The Importance of Safety Guidelines for Café Umbrellas.

Awnet is the original Australian manufacturer and supplier of large outdoor umbrellas, commonly referred to as Café Umbrellas or Market Umbrellas. The original Awnet market umbrella had aluminium arms and cogs and was assembled with stainless steel bolts.

…the ultimate aim of making umbrellas safe for the public.

In the past Awnet have experimented with and tested wooden umbrellas but were never satisfied with the safety (or lack thereof) of timber and bamboo umbrellas [see a wooden cafe umbrella get destroyed in a wind tunnel]. Awnet decided against manufacturing or selling wooden umbrellas. Instead, Awnet have strived to improve all aspects of their aluminium umbrellas with the ultimate aim of making umbrellas safe for the public.

Cheap imported umbrellas are unable to withstand moderate winds encountered in every town and city across Australia. Timber umbrella frames are made from either bamboo or mulched wood mixed with glue then moulded into shape. Imported aluminium frames are extremely thin and low grade. Not at all up to expected Australian quality. Watch this video to see how cheap cafe umbrellas survive in winds up to 70kph.

With this in mind Awnet designed and engineered their umbrellas to consist of custom extruded aluminium arms, aluminium cogs, a thicker grade aluminium pole, high tensile stainless steel fixtures and acrylic canvas covers bolted onto the umbrella frame with stainless steel bolts.

…warning of the potential dangers of cheap café umbrellas…

Since this reinvention Awnet has been campaigning with many city councils, warning of the potential dangers of cheap café umbrellas, in an effort to improve the standard of café umbrellas in public streets. In 2008 Melbourne City Council agreed to implement a standard for cafe umbrellas to be used in the City of Melbourne. A few councils have since followed but unfortunately this did not have the desired flow on effect to all municipalities throughout Australia.

Over the years Awnet has continued to improve their umbrellas in the interests of customer and public safety. Concerned that their standard (but superior to the opposition) aluminium umbrella was structurally insufficient Awnet, once again, revised and redesigned their umbrella. What Awnet now calls the ‘interlock system’ consists of a much stronger, custom extruded arms and interlocking brackets. Further strengthening the already superior frame to withstand winds in excess of 120kph.

The umbrella came free in the wind and speared the child in the head resulting in her death.

Prior to Christmas 2012 newspapers reported on the accidental, but completely avoidable, death of a nine year old girl at a public swimming pool in Bundaberg, QLD, fatally injured by a flying umbrella. The umbrella was not adequately secured, came free in the wind and the exposed wire arm speared the child in the head resulting in injuries which led to her death.

Click here to view the news article


View the Awnet wind tunnel comparison video here to see why you’re in danger:

There is substantial anecdotal evidence that flying umbrellas are a common occurrence and each one of these incidents can cause injury or, as now proven, has the potential to be fatal.

Awnet will continue to strive for safety standards for café umbrellas on the streets.

Although Awnet has been working closely with councils they will continue to strive for safety standards for café umbrellas on the streets. Awnet strongly believes that this is an issue that should be dealt with at a state and federal level under Workplace Health and Safety guidelines as it concerns the safety of workers employed in cafes and outdoor areas as well as the general public who are at risk of injury or, potentially, death.

Not a second thought is given about putting a safety guard on a saw. But not a single thought is given about safe and secure umbrellas in public places. The little girl was just sitting down eating lunch with her class mates when she was killed. A completely avoidable occurrence.

Click here to see the results of the tragic accident

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