What’s New: School Shade Sails
As Queenslanders, we are always working to better understand the dangers of UV radiation and learn how we can best protect ourselves and our children. Local, state, and federal governments have a range of regulations and recommendations to ensure that schools, early learning centres, and other childcare facilities are doing everything to protect children from the Australian sun. With new research and best practices constantly being developed here are some recent changes to school shade regulations affecting shade sails around Queensland.
The Ultraviolet Effectiveness Scale
Standards Australia recently updated their documentation on shade fabrics, including adding a new way of measuring the UV protection: the Ultraviolet Effectiveness (UVE) scale. See our article dedicated to the UVE scale to learn more about it and what it means. Government departments use the Australian standards for shade fabrics to set clear measurable guides for the quality of shade, and how much of it must be available to children at schools, and other education and care facilities.
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is already using the new standards and UVE rankings to describe best practices for shade. Other government departments are expected to follow suit soon, and high UVE ratings will go from a recommendation to a requirement.
Shade Sails vs. Shade Structures
Currently, the Queensland Government leaves most of the specifics of shade structures to the discretion of the local government and the school or childcare facility. The Queensland Department of Health outlines design considerations for local councils when it comes to creating shade. Recently many schools and local councils have been looking for ways of making shade structures safer and less likely to be vandalised.
The South Australian Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) has phased out shade sails entirely in favour of independent roofed structures. These can still use shade fabric as the roofing material, but rather than a sail fixed to several posts, the shade structure is a permanent, freestanding, ridged or hipped construction. These structures require fewer posts, don’t need guy-wires, can more effectively shade large areas, and are usually distinctly separated from other structures, such as buildings, making it more difficult for someone to climb up onto the sail. The Queensland Government and local councils could be looking to South Australia to improve the safety of our school’s shade structures.
Safety and Risk Assessment
Shade structures are designed to protect children from harmful UV rays, but if not designed, installed and maintained properly they can create another hazard. Local and state government bodies have requirements and best practises to ensure children are safe outdoors. Assessment of the risks associated with a shade structure being accessible from play equipment or adjoining structures such as fences or buildings, including potential fall heights, fall zones and impact-absorbing material should be completed. The goal of these practises is to prevent the climbing of shade structures as much as possible and lower the severity of potential injury if someone were to fall from the structure.
Compliant school shade structures from Northside Shade Sails
Northside Shade Sails understands that a lot of work goes into creating safe environments children enjoy learning and playing in. Our custom shade structures are designed to fit into your space and provide the shade you need while meeting government requirements. With a range of high-quality and easy to maintain UVE ranked fabrics and local expert installers, we make it easy to put safety first. Northside Shade Sails also offers ongoing repair and maintenance services to help keep your shade structure compliant and looking great for years to come.