Football Goalpost Safety Standards

FOOTBALL GOAL POST STANDARDS – THE FACTS

As a founder member of the original EN748 football goalpost standards committee, we have been involved in the introduction of goalpost standards and safety from the start. Prior to this, no standards were in force to regulate goalposts in any way. The death of a young lad named Jonathan Smith from a heavy steel freestanding goalpost was the catalyst to drive this safety issue to the forefront. At that time before we started to make goalposts, we had just two main suppliers of goalposts Harrods based in Lowestoft and Edwards Sports based in Bridport. The introduction of safer plastic football goals by our company completely changed the goal post industry and junior football.
We as a company still campaign to ban all heavy freestanding goalpost as weight is the common factor causing serious injury when using freestanding football goals. The goalpost standards however still to this day allow such goalposts to be made and used. We as a company always make the lightest and strongest freestanding goalposts possible. We have always designed and tested football goals to the relevant standards to ensure they are fit for purpose and offer higher safety parameters. The BS 8462 goalpost standard was withdrawn in 2016 and is no longer applicable. Our campaigning with the help of Mark Pover of the Football Association ensured lighter safer freestanding goals would be added into the BS EN 16579:2018 standard. Without our input and campaigning only heavy freestanding goals would have been included in the 2018 standard omitting safer lighter products. Madness!

Football goal testing

As all our football goals are designed with the latest standards in mind. Strength and toppling testing are done using specific Newtons required by the standard. It is a common misunderstanding that independent testing is required as it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to confirm if the products they make comply. It is a requirement occasionally when grants are being awarded that independent certification be provided but this is not a general requirement. Many goalposts made in the past have not considered head, foot and finger entrapment however this is now highlighted as being a requirement in the new standard. We use the correct weight equivalent in newtons to test our goals as tension machines may not be calibrated correctly to ensure, they are compliant. The correct weight is the best way in our opinion to test goals correctly. All our testing is videoed to corroborate results.

The new BSEN16579:2018 standard has specific slightly lower tests for goals over 10kg, but less than 42kg are tested at 1000n and 700N and football goals over 42kg are tested to 1800n and 1100 N respectively. This new classification that we helped introduce highlights that lighter goals are less likely to cause injury. We would like to see all freestanding moveable goals used around children be made lighter and to a lower mass. Adult goals are made to a different standard EN748 and testing on these goals is higher: 1800 N (crossbar strength test) and 1100 N (topple test) respectively.

Probes are used to simulate head, torso, limb, and finger to ensure all areas of the goal is compliant. Many goals in use around the country may not comply especially folding goals with steel side frames and aluminium post extrusions with open slots bigger than 7.9mm.

Net fixing attachments are required to conform as is the net. In our opinion, the net should be tested separately as these are replaced over the lifetime of the goalpost. Football goals are also with and without nets, so this is out of the control of most manufacturers. A point we made but that seems to have been ignored.

Nets are tested to 800 Newtons horizontal force and any net fixings need to remain in place and show no signs of failure. The square net mesh has also been reduced from 120mmx 120mm to 100mmxx 100mm again something we have campaigned about for many years. We have always used the smaller mesh nets from day one, we used twenty percent more net, but it was safer around children.

A new feature of the BSEN16579 standard is shear and crush point testing. This has shown that many previous freestanding goalposts did not take this into account. Old lever mechanism on moveable freestanding goals used everywhere may not pass. Finger entrapment uses an 8mm probe to replicate a child’s finger and is applied to all areas of the goal where this could be an issue. The probe should not enter or become lodged. We have designed a special test rig that uses the correct equivalent weight required to match the Newtons requirements. To convert kilograms into newtons, divide by 9.81 – twenty newtons would be equivalent to 2.04 kilograms.

These changes to the standard are not new to us as we have been making safer lighter goalposts for years within the entrapment and crush guidelines now required by all manufacturers. There is one anomaly now and that is regarding size tolerance on goal posts. The standards have tolerances on the sizes of the goal post openings, however, FIFA law one does not. BSEN 16579:2018 states that the goalposts should comply with the governing body and law one determines the sizes and shapes of goalposts that can be used. Elliptical posts were recently changed in that the longest part of any elliptical post (when one side is longer than the other-not round) should be across and not along the goal line. Many manufacturers are still supplying goalposts that do not conform and if so they in turn cannot conform to the goal post standard. Please check before you buy.

safe goalposts

The image above demonstrates testing on
an elliptical crossbar previous to the FIFA change.

BS EN 16579:2018 – GOALPOST SAFETY STANDARD

This is the current standard that all football and rugby posts should be manufactured in accordance with as BS 8462 has been withdrawn. It is crucial that the end user should take responsibility for the installation and correct use of all goal post products. Users should follow the relevant guidelines and pay particular attention to the care and maintenance instructions provided. In particular heavier free standing  movable goalposts must be adequately anchored at all times in use , during storage, Installation or movement. Installation should always be carried out under the supervision of a competent person using due diligence and risk assessment.   Installation of sockets must be solid, not allow any movement and installation should be carried out by appropriately qualified personnel with grounds care experience. Children should not be allowed to assemble or move goalpost products under any circumstances. Do not install fixed position steel goalposts with children present. Any joints on the goalposts  including welds should be checked regularly for signs of wear. Any goalposts damaged in any way should  not be used and appropriate remedial action should be carried out before they are brought back into use. Paintwork on goalposts should be checked regularly especially steel posts and damage should be treated promptly as set out on manufacturer’s care & maintenance information.  IF IN  DOUBT ABOUT THE SAFETY OR STABILITY OF AN ITEM OF EQUIPMENT – DO NOT USE IT. You can contact the technical director at ITSA GOAL for help and guidance at any time. (mobile 07974745768)

DRIVING SAFETY STANDARDS

ITSA GOAL are the oldest plastic football goal manufacturer in the world . They are the leading innovator in football goal post safety and design. The company was the first goal post manufacturer to represent the U.K. on the European Normalisation (CEN) Safety Standards. Prior to this committee being set up no one in the industry had looked into the issues surrounding goalpost safety. The introduction of plastic football goals for children by ITSA GOAL made a huge difference and ensured young children at long last could play football in proportional safe football goals.The EN748 and subsequent BS 8462 safety standards were eventually put in place after the death of Jonathan Smith in 1991 when the BBC program “That’s Life” highlighted the serious injuries caused by heavy and poorly designed goal posts. BS 8462 has now been withdrawn and the new standard BS EN 16579:2018 has replaced it. The momentum and drive towards safer lightweight football Goals by our company has gone a long way towards reducing serious injuries to children around the world. Sadly fatalities continue with heavier goalpost frames that are still in use, and that is why we are fighting to remove all heavy freestanding steel goalposts used by children. Our company has been involved more than most to try and introduce safer football goals. When you have a distraught mum crying “if only my son had been playing with your goals he would still be alive” it does focus the mind somewhat. The lessons have still not been learned and other young footballers are still being fatally injured by heavy freestanding goalposts.  We commissioned a University report on the dangers of football goal posts toppling and the overwhelming conclusion was that the mass of the goal and the falling force generated by that mass from the fulcrum point was the main reason why goalposts cause fatalities. Our mission has been to reduce this total mass on all goal posts and in particular free standing movable goalposts to a safer limit. We put safety before profit.

The main dangers with football Goalposts as we see it are:

Fixed position goalpost storage

Fixed position heavy steel goalposts being removed from the ground intact (usually as bolts get rusted up and cannot be easily removed) have crossbars still attached to uprights and if they are stored against a wall, fence or shed then it is possible they could topple forward. This has been the cause of fatalities around children. This is extremely dangerous. Even intact goalposts when stored with crossbar to the floor can still be dangerous especially when multiple sets are lent and stored together as heavy steel falling uprights can be just as dangerous. Such goalposts must be separated (uprights from crossbars) dismantled, made safe and stored away securely preferably at ground level or as low as possible.
Fixed position goalposts in sockets that are bolted need to have the crossbars secured from the sides to the uprights and not dropped onto the top of the uprights and bolted.  Goalpost crossbars secured in this way to the side are safer as nuts and bolts cannot be removed without the whole frame being lifted out of the ground sockets which is something a child cannot do without lifting the whole goal frame.
Steel goalposts that have crossbars that just drop into uprights and only rely on nuts & bolts to keep crossbars attached can be easily undone by vandals allowing the crossbar to be lifted off and dropped and the weight of a steel crossbar is heavy enough to cause serious injury or a fatality. The other common problem with this design is that the ground movement and upright position changes making hole alignment difficult. If numerous fixed position goalposts are used then it is imperative that every goalpost upright goes in the right hole at the right end of the pitch at the right side of the goal and on the right pitch every time they are re installed. This is why all over the country goalpost crossbars are not correctly bolted and in some case we have seen dropped on without any nuts & bolts at all. Unlike the anti-vandal goal which allows any upright or crossbar to be used anywhere It only takes one mix up with one upright to ensure all nuts & bolts may be unable to be fitted on the remaining goalposts. Ground sockets for steel goalposts need to be secure and lockable in open areas especially council pitches not just left open for rubble or animals or children to step into. Every goal should provide a secure lockable socket cap system that ensures nothing can be put inside and nothing can fall or become trapped inside.

Heavy steel Free standing goals – dangers

Heavy steel freestanding goalposts toppling forward onto the stomach, head or chest is one of the major factors that cause serious injury.(See our blunt trauma research) The accidents often show this happening whilst goalposts are being set up or moved around and at times when they may not be anchored. We  have experienced this type of accident however as we make light weight free standing goals nothing more than a slight bump resulted. (See comments at the bottom of the page from Denis Hickford )
ITSA GOAL are the only football goal post manufacturer in the industry pioneering lighter freestanding goal posts. This type of lightweight freestanding goalpost should be the first choice for Junior Football clubs. It seems a ridiculous state of affairs that these were outside the BSI safety standards yet heavier less practical freestanding goal posts were included.
Strong, sturdy long lasting alloy freestanding goals to a weight/mass that cannot fatally injure a child can be manufactured. The goalpost industry has to change. We as a company have never had one of our lightweight crossbars bend or break and we argue to the standards committee and the Football Association that it is not necessary to use heavy steel post sections for children’s freestanding goalposts.

Football goal hand, finger, head, torso & foot entrapment

Entrapment, especially on swinging hinged sided goal frames is a problem. A business colleague lost three finger ends with such goals when heavy steel sides swung in wards and the goal collapsed on top of him during a game. According to the Football Association’s own report it states hundreds of accidents a year are reported in Accident & Emergency departments that are caused by football goalposts. These accidents must be serious enough to need medical attention so whatever is currently  causing these incidents shows why radical improvements were needed to  BS 8462. We are glad to report that finger entrapment is now included in the new standard BS EN 16579:2018 and that BS 8462 has been withdrawn.
Folding goals that have sides that dislodge and swing about are unstable and may be unsafe. Buttons, pins and spring sided frames are just not good enough. All side frames need to be securely locked especially around children during play, whilst being moved and when stored.

Freestanding goalposts with un-welded corners.

A number of freestanding goal frames expand apart and leave dangerous sharp corners that need constant tightening and alignment of nuts & bolts. Our influence has meant that many have changed and now weld corners yet the mitred versions are still  being sold as they are less expensive to make. Heavy freestanding goals with integral weights or rollers on the rear of the goal frame are designed in such a way that every time they are moved the nets may become entangled, the structure is weakened as nuts & bolts become loose. These goals in our opinion need to be tested over a much longer period than the one minute required in the standards. Integral weighted goals may need better designed frames that do not work apart as the stresses on these freestanding goals when moved  is much more than other types of goals. In our opinion a radical re think about this type of goal needs to take place. We do not make or supply such goals and would never have one on our football pitch as it would compact the surface and may well rut and damage the playing surface.

Football Goalposts with wheels

Wheels on freestanding goals appear to be inadequate for the job as many just buckle over, puncture  or lose a rubber tyre at which time they may leave knife like edges. We believe that wheels should be always be removed from goalposts prior to play as they are often located in dangerous positions, have numerous finger and foot entrapment areas and players can collide into them and sustain serious injury. Goalpost wheels buckle and bend outwards and collapse due to the fact that freestanding goals are pulled from side to side more than they are pushed backwards and forwards. This is why you see missing wheels, punctured wheels and dangerous exposed wheel brackets.

Free standing Goalposts – Counterbalance Weights

The main problem as we see it  are sandbags as these can split and the weight can become less than is required to hold a goalpost securely. The actual weight can vary from bag to bag as they are often left to users to fill and secure. Any form of counter balance weight that can change should be discouraged so the use of water and sand should be avoided. These types of weights may leave users with a false sense of security that they are using the correct weight when they may not be. Only weights that cannot be adjusted should be used so that users know the weight is correct at all times. Slot in water holders into back ground frames will add weight to the frame but may well not meet the test requirements of the BS EN 16579:2018 standard. In our opinion  the topple test is far too high for children’s goals which leads to more weights being used than are actually needed and this results from our own experience that users only using two weights on each corner as it is too much trouble to use more. They see that two well-designed weights will do the job if they are sufficiently heavy and are correctly positioned .The topple test in our opinion, if the maximum weight of the goals is reduced, should be much less on children’s goals  and should equate to the same force that say four young lads could exert by swinging on the crossbar. This would probably equate that the two counterbalance weights on the rear corners are actually sufficient to do the job but only on the lighter safer freestanding goalposts. At the moment this seems to be happening at clubs and it seems to be seen as the accepted way of doing things.

On the heavier freestanding goal posts over 45 kilos in weight this is potentially dangerous.  With lighter safer goalposts that cannot kill the weights would be used on hard surfaces more to stop the goal from moving around rather than to be the main force to prevent toppling.

Counter balance  weights can be heavy and they should be designed in such a way as to allow them to break down to the maximum health & safety lifting limits which is around 25Kilos. They should always be stored at ground level if possible. Around 112 kilos of weight on the rear ground frame is needed to pass the current safety toppling test.

Hi John,
I have just read an article on the new guidelines for goalposts and note that  some of your lighter aluminium goalposts do not now meet the proposed current  BSI safety criteria. This is ridiculous!
As you know we purchased several goalposts from you over the last five years and to date we have not had a single serious accident or problem with your football goals. We try to stop kids jumping up onto the crossbar, but it is very difficult, especially when away team goalkeepers do it during a game. However, out of all the sets we have, not one crossbar has even the slightest bend in it. We always get complimented on our goalpost and it is a  fact that our club appears to have the best equipment in the area. Last year we did have an accident where a goalpost fell onto a youngster. This was because the children started playing in the football goal while it was still being erected. I am pleased to say that although the youngster got hit on the head he only had a slight bump and an ice pack quickly sorted it out.
I would also like to let you know that a few years ago we were sued by a dog walker. We play in a public park and his dog got its leg down a goalpost socket after the socket cap had been stolen by vandals. (not your goalposts I might add) .The dog broke its leg which resulted in hefty vets bills. I’m glad to say that the dog recovered but we had a large claim on our insurance. After this incident we decided to switch to free standing goalposts and fill in all sockets on the park which has proved to be a great decision. This was quite an expense for us but we purchased your freestanding folding goalposts that lock and have not had any problems since. Our goalposts have to be carried nearly 100 yards every Saturday and Sunday and a lightweight goal is essential to make this feasible.The ITSA GOAL posts are the only goalposts light enough and safe enough for a few children to carry them out on their own supervised by an adult.
If the standard is changed we would be faced with purchasing heavier goals in future which is going to affect our finances, as I assume they would be much more expensive, but also would be completely   unnecessary.  The goalposts from ITSA GOAL are safe and more than adequate to do the job.
Regards, Dennis Hickford  –  Woodbank Junior Football Club. July 2012  
 

BS EN 16579:2018 NOW INCLUDES LIGHTER SAFER GOALS

Common sense has prevailed in the new standard over the manufacturers who only want to offer heavier free standing goalposts.
Clubs no longer have the problems of constant maintenance, the additional work and dangers of moving heavy frames about, constant wheel problems, levers that are tensioned so much they can strain the wrists to release them, finger and foot entrapment areas, constant punctures, ruts in pitches from moving heavy goals around and the worry if one ever did come apart and fall on a child what damage it may inflict. Lighter safer goals are now available within the goalpost standards thanks to our campaigning for change.