Sportsafe leading the way with ground-breaking accredited inspection

Europe Uncategorized

Sportsafe has become the first organisation to be accredited by The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) in accordance with ISO/IEC 17020:2012 for the inspection of Physical Education, sports, gymnastic, cardio vascular, resistance and outdoor playground equipment.

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the sole national accreditation body for the United Kingdom. UKAS is recognised by the UK government, to assess against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services.

Accreditation by UKAS demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of these organisations. In short, UKAS ‘checks the checkers’

UKAS is a non-profit-distributing private company, limited by guarantee. UKAS operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government, through the Secretary of State for Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Sportsafe, the leading Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity (PESSPA) Inspection Company, based in Colchester, has been working to achieve UKAS accreditation for the last three years, and were proud to gain accreditation for ISO/IEC 17020:2012 in May 2019.

Andy Bickerstaff, Technical and Quality Manager at Sportsafe, said: “It has been really confusing for clients to know who to trust when it comes to inspecting their sports equipment.

“For the last three years, Sportsafe has been working hard to gain UKAS accreditation and we are proud to say we are now the only provider in the UK to have achieved ISO 17020:2012 accreditation for those activities detailed on our UKAS schedule of accreditation which can be accessed via the UKAS website “

“This accreditation will give schools, councils and facility management companies confidence that Sportsafe work to an internationally recognised standard and are competent to undertake inspections.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has worked tirelessly to prevent accidents since 1914 and was the first to introduce a variety of playground inspections and indoor soft play which support the BS EN1176 recommendation of an annual inspection.

Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII) took it one step further by introducing the inspection for Children’s Fully Enclosed Play Equipment (FEPE) and Inflatable Annual inspections.

The advantage of being a UKAS accredited inspection body is we are routinely assessed in accordance with ISO/IEC 17020:2012 which in turn provides an assurance of our competence, impartiality and integrity. 

Using Sportsafe can save you money

We believe that by using Sportsafe we can save schools money by combining indoor and outdoor inspections and passing that saving back to the school. Facilities with both indoor and outdoor equipment can combine their inspections to take place at the same time by the same inspector and save on the travel costs involved in two separate inspection visits by two separate companies.  

It also saves clients the time calling out two different companies to ensure their users’ safety and saves administration costs of managing two suppliers. It also saves the PE teacher or Headteacher time having to review two different indoor and outdoor reports and repair recommendations.

Unlike other companies, Sportsafe can quote for, and undertake, any remedial work identified during the inspection themselves, ensuring the work is carried out quickly and correctly. Any work undertaken by Sportsafe will be conducted by personnel not involved in the inspections process in order to maintain impartiality.

Combine indoor and outdoor inspections can help to reduce your school or leisure centres carbon foot print

Finally, combining indoor and outdoor inspections helps save the environment and can help reduce the carbon footprint.

Sportsafe Inspectors drive on average three times round the world every year, visiting in total 10,000 schools. By combining indoor and outdoor inspections this initiative will allow us to reduce the carbon footprint of each school’s inspection. This together with the move to hybrid vehicles will hugely reduce the environmental impact of customers’ inspection and repair programs.

Claire Hunt, Sales and Marketing Director, said the changes would see primary schools save on average £150 and secondaries £350 by working with Sportsafe.

She said: “It’s fantastic that Sportsafe customers are actually going to see the difference in terms of inspection quality but also in terms of time, money and environmental savings.”

Further changes Sportsafe has innovated under ISO 17020:2012

The requirements of ISO 17020:2012 mean that all Sportsafe inspectors undergo rigorous training and formal examinations with a set pass rate to ensure they are competent to undertake inspections Sportsafe has rewritten the inspection manual, with thorough information on how to inspect each piece of apparatus so clients can be assured their equipment is safe for their users.

Mr Bickerstaff, Technical and Quality Manager, said: “Currently, the scope of inspection written in tenders and the afPE handbook is very basic and, in some areas, vague.

“Sportsafe has rewritten the inspection process for all the equipment found in an educational environment. It goes into much more detail on how to inspect apparatus.

“For example, the scope of inspection for a wooden PE bench is usually no more than a few sentences. The new written inspection process for PE benches to be used for this standard is two A4 pages and details the inspection process of each bench component.

“We are really looking forward to the much-needed changes this brings to the industry.”

Sportsafe is based at Eastgates, Moorside, in Colchester, and has offices in Manchester and Scotland.

Employing more than 95 people, it serves more than 12,000 customers across the UK.

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Interview: What changes are Sportsafe Inspectors seeing?

Aaron Owen, 28, has been trained and evaluated by Sportsafe in accordance with our procedures which have been assessed by UKAS as meeting the requirements of ISO/IEC  17020:2012.  Aaron has been with Sportsafe for four years.

He said: “I have noticed a lot of changes since being trained to deliver an ISO 17020:2012 compliant inspections”.

“We also have that level of detail to hand at all times through our inspection manual. Because we have that much detail now, when we have new people joining Sportsafe and asking questions we can reassure them with thorough answers.

“I’ve had some great responses from customers since we brought ISO 17020:2012 in.

“Previously clients were handed an inspection certificate. But thanks to the new accreditation we instead issue a Health and Safety Certificate once any remedial work has been carried out.

“It’s really helpful to go through the inspection results together in person so the customer completely understands how to make their equipment safe for their users, which is what we all want.

“And clients are finding it really reassuring to know we are there to answer their questions and walk them through the process. It’s all about making sure their users are safe at the end of the day.

“In my opinion we have been at the top of PESSPA inspections for a long time, but this will only help us to go further.

“It’s been an accreditation which is very hard to get and which the industry has really needed. It’s great we can finally offer it.”

  1. RoSPA’s play safety courses are undertaken by Play Safety Limited, which is more than 75% owned by RoSPA Playground Management Ltd.
  2. RoSPA Playground Management Ltd is, in turn, controlled by the majority family shareholding of RPII.
  3. RPII, which sets the standards for examinations and accredits exam centres allows RPII tutors to examine their own pupils.
  4. RPII shares directors/nominee directors with RoSPA Play Management Ltd who in turn are majority shareholders in Play Safety Limited. This company controls one of 17 examination centres accredited by RPII in the UK and is entitled to accredit its own staff as well as accrediting other independent inspectors within the RPII rules.
  5. The Play Inspection Company is also accredited by RPII to run its own examination centre, one of 17 in the UK. The Play Inspection Company like other RPII accredited examination centres can therefore accredit staff within their own company as well as accrediting other independent inspectors within the RPII rules.
  6. Sportsafe is audited by UKAS as part of the ISO 17020:2012 accreditation. UKAS standards demand that teaching and invigilation of exams must be carried out by different staff not involved with the commercial operation. This demonstrably creates independence, separation, objectivity and an audit trail in the accreditation of individual ISO 17020:2012 inspectors.
  7. Sportsafe offers installation, service and sales of sports and fitness equipment to more than 12,000 customers across the UK, including private schools, sports centres, care homes and more than 120 county councils and fire, police and NHS authorities. 
  8. For interviews and photo opportunities, please contact the marketing team on 01206 795265,


Sportsafe Inspectors celebrate the launch of ISO 17020:2012
Sportsafe's Aaron Owen, ISO 17020:2012 trained Inspector
Sportsafe's Technical and Quality Manager, Andy Bickerstaff