More than 100 Australian children have been seriously injured by treadmills at home. Most injuries happen when a baby or toddler moves to the back of the treadmill where they are out of sight and either touch the moving belt or gets their hand caught under it. This can cause severe friction burns that can take many months to heal, possibly requiring skin graft operations and even plastic surgery when the child is older.

In one case, a two-year-old girl accidentally touched the moving belt of the family’s new treadmill. In just a matter of seconds she had suffered friction burns so intense they removed tissue from the inside of three of her fingers, as well as leaving a burn across the inside of her palm. Her shocked mum remembers; “There was no blood – it was all just white”. As a result, the child needed treatment that included a skin graft operation, frequent bandaging, a splint and weekly visits to hospital. Almost one year later the treatment was continuing with a chance she may need plastic surgery in the future to straighten her fingers. The accident occurred in seconds but the consequences will continue for many years.

Safety tips for treadmills users:

  • If you can, use your treadmill in the room away from young children.
  • If this is not possible:
    • use safety barriers like a playpen to keep children away from the treadmill
    • do not use your treadmill when young children are around
  • Always keep your treadmill unplugged when not in use.
  • Store your treadmill well away from children’s reach.
  • Always supervise older children if they are using a treadmill.
  • When you buy a new treadmill choose one with protective covers and a safety stop switch.

Treadmills must comply with a mandatory safety standard. All new treadmills must have a specific warning label to remind treadmill users to keep children away from machines when they are in use.

Go to the treadmills page on the Product Safety Australia website for safety tips and more information.

If you become aware of an unsafe situation or item, whether or not anyone has been injured, you should alert the supplier about the issue. You can also report it by lodging a complaint on our website or via the Product Safety Australia website.

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