Three out of every four playground injuries are caused by FALLS. Falls to the surface account for 58% and the rest of the falls are onto other equipment. This is why it is so important to have appropriate surfacing and to comply with the Use Zone Guidelines of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Surfacing should be both resilient and accessible. Engineered Wood Fiber, Poured-In-Place Rubber and Rubber Mats are the most common surfaces being used today. Sand and pea gravel are no longer acceptable as they are not accessible. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a law that requires accessible surfacing on new or altered playgrounds.
Early elementary age children, ages 5-9, account for almost half of all playground accidents. Boys are injured more frequently than girls but not by much. Boys-54% and Girls-46%.
Inadequate or inappropriate surfacing is the first item. After that, look for loose footings where the play equipment is anchored into the ground and footings that are visible above the ground cover. Look for loose, missing or protruding bolts. Look for places where a child could get his or her head caught. Look for worn chain and open "S" hooks. If something looks like it could cause an accident, it probably can. Ask Playground Medic to train your staff on Hazard Identification.
A playground should be inspected regularly in order to eliminate any apparent hazards in the play environment that might cause an accident. Keeping playgrounds safe also increases the life of play equipment and protects playground owners and supervisors from exposure to costly litigation.
The daily or frequent routine inspections can be done by maintenance workers or playground supervisors on your staff. The in-depth inspections that are done less frequently, should be done by National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) Certified Playground Safety Inspectors. Playground Medic specializes in Safety Inspections and Compliance Audits for new playgrounds
The surface and the equipment should be maintained regularly. For a wood fiber surface, you should keep it level, especially in the heavy wear areas. The felt under liner should not show and there should be no vegetation growing in the area. The depth should be maintained at the level recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. On play equipment, all bolts and items that are considered part of the fastening system of play equipment should checked periodically and be tightened. The playground areas should always be kept free of litter and debris. If you need playground maintenance or a repair, call Playground Medic.
To protect yourself or your agency from a charge of negligence in case of a playground accident lawsuit, keep your playground as safe as possible by inspecting it regularly, keep a file with written proof of inspection and records of maintenance, have signs showing the appropriate ages of the users and be sure your playground supervisors have the proper training.
First, determine what level of supervision is needed. This depends on the amount and type of use that the playground gets as well as the age of the users. Have regular training for your playground aides so they can discuss situations that arise on the playground and agree how to handle them. Visit the web site of the National Program for Playground Safety and find out more about their supervision training.
Visit the "Links" page of the Playground Medic Web site. The sites that are listed will have more sites to visit. You can also go to the search engines (Google, Yahoo and others) and search under "Playground Safety".