Sign up to receive regular updates about children’s play and playwork

Communication Preferences

Please state how you would prefer to be contacted.
To view our privacy policy, click here.

Back to News

HSE promotes a balanced approach to children's play


The Play Safety Forum (PSF) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published a joint high level statement to promote a balanced approach to managing risk in children's play.

The statement emphasises that when planning and providing play opportunities, the goal is not to eliminate risk, but to weigh up the risks and the benefits - no child will learn about risk if they are wrapped in cotton wool.

PSF and HSE urge all organisations to embrace the recommendations and principles in the statement: Children's Play and Leisure: promoting a balanced approach.

Judith Hackitt, Chair of the HSE said:
'Health and safety laws are often wrongly cited as a reason to deny children opportunities, contributing to a cotton wool culture. I welcome this statement which brings clarity and focus to what really matters when managing the risks associated with children's play. Whilst HSE's main focus is on health and safety in the workplace, it is clear that attitudes to risk are formed long before young people enter the world of work. Play outdoors teaches young people how to deal with risk and without this they are ill equipped to deal with working life.'

Mike Greenaway, Director of Play Wales said:
'Growing risk aversion fuelled by a fear of being sued means that as a society we've stopped looking at the quality of provision for play and focused just on its safety. This statement will enable us to give children more freedom to play and to experience the joy of taking risks, like we did when we were children.'

More information

Download the statement - Children's Play and Leisure: promoting a balanced approach

In response to the statement Tim Gill posted It's Health and safety gone sane! on his blog.

The statement has also received the following attention in the national media:
The Telegraph: Cotton wool culture stops children playing
The Independent: Overprotected children 'need to learn about risk'
Daily Mail: Cotton wool culture is damaging our children says Health and Safety Executive (but didn't their rules and regulations create the problem in the first place?)