On hot sunny days, many councils see a rise in rope swing installations – an often overlooked yet significant hazard.

And while no one likes being the fun police, it’s crucial that councils balance enjoyment with safety and liability responsibilities.

Here’s our guide to help you do just that.

Swings and misses

For some, rope swings are nothing more than a bit of harmless fun. That’s why community members install them under bridges, over water bodies and in parks – without council knowledge or approval.

But rope swings also encourage high-risk behaviour. And that can lead to significant consequences, like severe injury or even fatality – which are even more likely when swings are installed in remote, unsupervised locations where emergency access is difficult.

At Statewide Mutual, we’ve seen unsanctioned rope swing injuries result in legal claims against councils on several occasions. These claims often hinge on the argument that the council failed to exercise a reasonable duty of care in ensuring the safety of areas under their jurisdiction.

So, it’s imperative that your council takes proactive steps to manage the presence of rope swings on your land – to maximise public safety and reduce liability risk.


How to reduce rope swing hazards in your council area

To reduce the risk of public harm and a liability suit, we recommend you do the following four things:

1. Discourage dangerous recreational activities wherever possible. Take a clear stance against the installation and use of rope swings – especially in remote, unsupervised, or inherently dangerous locations.

2. Install clear and informative signage. Signs play a crucial role in risk mitigation. So consider installing:

  • Prohibition signs against rope swings, swimming, diving or jumping
  • Warning signs that highlight potential hazards like shallow water, submerged objects or steep banks

3. Review and update response procedures. A clear plan for identifying and responding to rope swings is critical to help you stay on top of new and existing hazards. Specifically, ensure these procedures include:

  • An inspection regime that incorporates known areas for rope swings, which ideally aligns with high-use times like school holidays
  • A clear response time for inspecting rope swings identified by the council and members of the public
  • Detailed and approved removal methods

4. Prevent recurrences. In areas with repeated installations of rope swings, councils must consider additional measures like isolating the area or removing tree branches that facilitate the installation of these swings.

    Remember, it’s critical that councils act swiftly when notified of a rope swing. Adherence to pre-established procedures and response times is not just a matter of protocol. It’s also a key factor in mitigating liability risks.


    Keeping your community safe – and covered

    Unsanctioned rope swings aren’t just a public safety concern. They’re a liability concern, too.

    But by implementing a handful of risk management strategies, you’re being proactive in protecting your community – and reducing your council’s exposure to claims, fulfilling your duty to maintain public safety.

    Want to know more? Explore a rope swing case summary prepared by Mills Oakley for Albury City Council.


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