Sport surface safety

Changes in climatic conditions and improvements in artificial turf products, particularly over the past two decades, have resulted in artificial turf becoming an increasingly popular choice for sports fields and ovals in Australia for a variety of different sports. Despite the growing popularity of these surfaces, there are unanswered questions regarding the potential effects on athlete performance and safety. Two issues that are currently acting as barriers to the adoption of artificial turf surfaces include high surface temperatures and a perceived increased risk of injuries.

The surface temperatures experienced on artificial turf in the dry, hot Australian climate and the environmental and product-related factors contributing to the heat have been established. A PhD project could focus on developing a greater understanding of differences between elements of the artificial turf systems; the effects of the increased radiant heat on participants; and whether this may result in serious heat related health problems.

The perceived fear of abrasion injuries on artificial turf playing surfaces has also significantly impacted on the adoption of these surfaces, particularly in sports which involve frequent player-surface interactions. Research is needed to: fully understand the testing of abrasive properties of artificial turf; ascertain the incidence and nature of abrasions on such surfaces; and determine the effect of these injuries on playing behaviour.

Supervision: Dr Dara Twomey (Principal), Dr Lauren Petrass (Associate)

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