SALT LAKE CITY — While some injuries are expected with trampoline use, many of the more serious injuries that occur at trampoline parks could be prevented if the popular attractions operated safely, according to Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo.
Thurston is sponsoring HB150, which would require trampoline park operators to receive a specific business licence and follow safety standards including rules, trainings and annual inspections. Currently there are no safety regulations in much of Utah.
The bill passed through committee with one nay vote, and will move to the House.
Kim Santiago, former Provo councilwoman, helped present the bill in the House Political Subdivisions Committee. She worked to create a similar law in Provo after seeing a large increase in trampoline park-related injuries. Santiago said Utah County has had more than 130 serious incidents in the last eight years.
"We're really trying to reduce the severity and the occurrence of these injuries with the bill that Representative Thurston has put forward," Santiago said.
Thurston clarified some injuries are inherent with trampoline sports, but the more severe injuries his bill is addressing happen almost exclusively when trampoline parks or their patrons are not following rules and procedures.
"The kinds of injuries they're seeing were injuries that were associated with not-normal use of a trampoline, they were more like things that you would see in a high-velocity car crash," Thurston said.
Misty Paxton, one of the owners of Lowes Xtreme Airsports, said she has not seen many severe injuries from the trampolines. She agrees severe injuries are more common when rules are not followed, but trampoline park injuries are normal.
"There are people that are injured, even following all the rules," Paxton said.
According to Thurston, the number of trampoline park injuries went down in Provo after the city passed a bill addressing the problem.
Paxton said she would attribute the decline to people becoming familiar with trampoline parks and safety rules.
"We were the first park to open in Utah … and when the public doesn't have knowledge we have to spend a ton of time educating," Paxton said. "Now everyone knows what a tram-park is, and so I think a lot of that is what brought injuries down."
Thurston said this bill is a proactive measure to make sure any new trampoline parks in the state will have a set of safety standards already in place.
"It is my belief that every park that is operating in the state today would meet the requirements of HB150, at least in terms of their operating procedures," Thurston said.
Jacob Goodell, CEO for Get Air Trampoline Park, said he does not agree with the lack of patron responsibility in the bill and the requirement for parks to have insurance at a level that is determined individually by local business licensing offices.
"I don't think that insurance is what keeps people safe when they walk into a trampoline park," Goodell said.Comment on this story
Goodell said he does agree with other aspects of the bill, including the inspection and regulation.
"We realize that there is risk in our industry … things can happen, and they will happen, and having a level of inspection, having a level of overall rules and monitors and everything like that is really, really important," Goodell said.
The bill was first presented in 2017. Lawmakers decided to hold the bill to do more research and make sure it was not overregulation. The committee discussed the bill in interim meetings and a report was presented in August 2018.