I updated my tree climbing risk assessment to include rocks after rocks were incorporated into some climbing activities by the children. This is more about supporting children to climb rather than introducing rocks into a play space but may be of use.
The 1.5m limit mentioned is imposed by my insurers, not by me!
Thanks for this info - the thoroughness of your tree climbing RBA is great. Incidentally, the outdoor nurseries here in Scotland all seem to have insurance for their 2-5yr olds to climb up to 6ft - the height of outstretched adult hands (assuming a person my size)
I've got some info on the placing of boulders in play spaces but quite a few of us are scrabbling around for something more comprehensive. Hmm. Lots of links, but nothing absolute.
Oh yes - welcome to C&NN Connect! Please do join the Scotland and International Groups here too. There's some interesting discussions here too.
I would check with your school board (if that is where you are putting them). Each board will have their own regulations.
We put boulders in our garden and the concerns that we had to take into consideration were that they couldn't be small enough that someone could pick up and throw around... although, we did stepping stones and river rocks and that wasn't a problem.....
And the second thing was they has to be far enough apart that the children couldn't hop from one to the other.
Most of our rocks are big boulders that we asked a trailer park if we could take 20 off thier property. They had no problem with allowing us to do it and even let us borrow their backhoe to dig them up.
My motto for getting donations and such is "don't ask, don't get" People are usually more than willing to give. And Scotland I am sure has amazing looking rocks.
Quite strangely perhaps, this request has come from our equivalent of a school board who have a nursery who are putting in boulders and who have a very bureaucratic health and safety team to satisfy. The schools I know with boulders tend to have had them in situ for a long time and therefore don't have a risk assessment for this process.
I've put a couple of call outs for information and the others involved are using their links too. Then the information will be pooled and shared. We're finding this happens fairly frequently right now as with natural play features, people are reluctant to be too specific. This is the sort of information I've pulled together so far....(please chip in - ANYONE! LOL!)
... The difficulty is that there is a lot of by-the by talk about boulders and very little about the risks and how to manage them. I did briefly cover this in one blog post in June
The location of boulder needs some thought...
- Far away from a building where a roof could be accessed by clambering onto the boulder or a wall that's dangerously high
- Considering an informal boundary around the boulder to prevent children running into them, yet far enough away so that children can't fall off the boulders onto the boundary! This could be tyres filled with plants or loose materials, for example.
- Checking the boulders (depending on rock type) for weathering. This happens slowly. Best done after winter is over. Unlikely to see much change other than the occasional chip which can be polished down.
- Removing algae/fungal growth on rocks - this is unsightly and can get onto children's hands and into their eyes. Again, this risk may be small depending on the local area.
- Routines - children learning that wet rock can be slippy so more care is needed in wet weather or after precipitation.
I do agree with you - the schools with boulders that I know - one got them donated by a local building company who were creating a car park near the school and the siting of the boulders was free. The other school has created the "mother of all geology trails" over a nine year period. The head teacher took any opportunity to source the amazing stones.
Both of the above schools I will be blogging about within the next couple of months, so I'll add links to this discussion.