Keep playgrounds safe with regular, thorough inspections
While regular inspections are critical for playground safety, there are a few specific things to look out for. Hiring a Certified Playground Inspector will help you make sure you’re covering all your bases.
Regularly check for hazards such as damaged or missing equipment, sharp edges, pinch points, cracking or peeling paint, and so on. Report and document any issues immediately.
Don’t place advanced equipment (like trampolines, merry-go-rounds, arch climbers, sliding poles and see-saws) in areas accessible by very young children, and make sure all equipment has enough space in between. Face slides away from south or south-west so they don’t get too hot. Maintain protective surfaces under swings and other heavily-trafficked areas. Put up signs that clearly indicate hours and rules, including equipment instructions and which age group the playground is intended for.
Risk management is about more than just assessments. Planning and responding is important. Prepare a budget and implementation plan for repairs, upgrades and improvements. Spread this over a few years if necessary, but make sure hazards are addressed immediately.
Between municipal maintenance and encouraging parents or guardians to inspect the grounds before allowing kids to play, you’re likely to have an enjoyable, problem-free year.
Identify and remove lead paint in older playgrounds
Some older playgrounds can contain lead paint, and identifying and addressing the issue now will protect kids and reduce risk down the road. Contrary to some theories, applying low-lead paint to surfaces that have lead paint on them isn’t enough to control exposure. Don’t use lead-containing paint on any structures accessible by children. Let parents know about the potential risk of eating paint chips.
Use a lead testing kit to test older equipment. If the test detects more than 0.5% lead, remove the equipment, or strip it carefully offsite with a solvent (heating or sanding risks contaminating the area around it). Treat any rags used to remove flaking and chipping lead paint as hazardous waste.
When you repaint the equipment, make sure new paint contains less than 0.5% lead. Or, for your safest bet, replace metal structures with plastic ones.