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There is a new safety standard in town for goalposts – but what does it mean?

Published in Sports Management 2020 issue 2
The new standard sets new guidance around entrapment
The new standard sets new guidance around entrapment

A new European standard has come into force, designed to improve safety of football goalposts. The BSEN16579 standard is set to replace two older standards – BS 8462 and BS 8461.

WHAT HAS CHANGED?
The biggest change is new criteria that allows mid-weight goals to comply to a recognised standard. This will give consumers a choice. They can opt for strong and robust goals, which are very heavy, or go for less robust but lighter goals. The latter are possibly more appropriate for secured sites where misuse can be controlled.

Another big change is the guidance around entrapment. The new standard aims to eliminate all danger of finger, head, and neck entrapments.

This in mind, the width of the opening/channel often found on the back of aluminium goals will no longer be allowed to be between 8mm and 25mm to avoid finger entrapment. Meanwhile, the maximum size of the football net mesh has been reduced from 120mm to 100mm in order to avoid head entrapment. The new guidelines are based on standards devised for gymnastic equipment (BS EN 913) and are also very similar to existing standards for playground equipment (BS EN 1176).

Another major aspect is the inclusion of wheels in the new standard. Until now, wheels have been seen as accessories and weren’t necessarily tested. Now, as wheels are included in the standard, they too will have to undergo a testing process – if they are supplied as part of a transportation system.

The new standard will also cover rugby posts. This is significant, as there has never before been a safety standard for rugby posts.

The new standard replaces the old ones (BS 8461 and BS 8462) and will sit alongside the existing BS EN 748 standard. The BS EN 748 will continue to be used for senior and 5m x 2m goalposts over 42kg in total weight, while the new standard will cover every other size of goal – such as junior goals (21ftx7ft) and the 12ftx6ft mini soccer goals and senior and 5 x 2m goals under 42kg.

FOR OPERATORS
The changes are currently being adopted by manufacturers, with a number of SAPCA member companies already having completed a redesign of product lines. If a facility operator wishes to receive Football Association (FA) support for a project, new goalposts being bought will need to have been tested by an independent test laboratory to demonstrate compliance.

The good news is that the FA has issued a statement, confirming that the governing body still considers goals certified to the previous standards as “good”. Therefore, there is no need for facility owners and operators to automatically replace their existing goalposts, providing that the usual, regular inspections are carried out.

However, as manufacturers are updating their products in line with the new standards, buyers of new goalposts should ensure that they are certified to BS EN 16579 (or BS EN 748 depending on the type).

While the new standards aren’t enshrined in law, operators have a duty of care to their clients and SAPCA recommends that all facility equipment conforms to the latest standards.

The easiest way to ensure any newly purchased goalposts conform to the latest standards is to choose a SAPCA member company and ask for advice on each individual product.

For more information, visit sapca.org.uk

BS EN 16579 at a glance

Why is there a new standard?
Up until 2018, individual countries across Europe had their own standards unique to each country. The new standard will now allow free trade within Europe. It is worth noting that Brexit does not affect the status of the standards.

Are there still two standards for football goals?
Yes. The existing BS EN 748 will still outline the requirements for senior and 5m x 2m goalposts over 42kg. The BS EN 16579 will be in place for all other football goals – such as junior goals which are 21ftx7ft and the 12ftx6ft mini soccer goals.

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