slides at a playground

Each year, thousands of children are injured on playgrounds. Appropriate equipment, routine inspections and proper maintenance are imperative for ensuring safety.

There are few things in life more enjoyable then watching your children play. However, thousands of children are injured on playgrounds each year. Many of these injuries could be prevented if safeguards and routine maintenance inspections were effectively used.

Each year, playground accidents are responsible for sending more the 200,000 children to U.S. hospital emergency rooms for treatment.1 The most recent study of 2,691 playground equipment-related incidents indicates that falls are the most common hazard (44% of injuries) followed by equipment-related hazards, such as breakage, tip over, design, and assembly (23%).2 While adequate supervision is the best incident prevention method, it may not be feasible for some playground owners. Therefore, appropriate equipment, routine inspections and proper maintenance are imperative for ensuring safety.

Having age-appropriate equipment for the children is critical for playground safety. When selecting playground equipment, it is important to know the age range of the children who will be using the playground. Children at different ages and stages of development have different needs and abilities.

Age groups for public playgrounds:

  • Toddler: 6 months - 23 months
  • Preschool: 2 - 5 years
  • School-aged: 5 - 12 years

It is critical for the playground owner to conduct safety inspections and maintenance on the equipment and surrounding environment. Inadequate and ineffective maintenance programs result in many injuries to children each year. Formal inspection processes must be created and conducted by trained/authorized individuals on a routine basis. Damaged equipment or inadequate surfacing materials are serious accidents waiting to happen.

Following safety guidelines and establishing a quality playground inspection program can create a safe environment for children and contribute to reduced playground-related injuries and deaths. In addition, Nationwide’s self-inspection playground checklist can assist you with the evaluation and recognition of hazards associated with the playground.

[1] Public Playground Safety Handbook. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Bethesda, MD 20814. December 29, 2015
[2] O’Brien, Craig W.; Injuries and Investigated Deaths Associated with Playground Equipment, 2001–2008. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Washington DC, October 2009.
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