When it comes to play, playground safety is the most important factor in preventing injuries to children. Every year an alarming amount of children across Canada get injured on playgrounds, most of which are preventable.
It is extremely important to ensure that playground manufacturers adhere to the Canadian safety standards before they are purchased. Playgrounds should be installed by certified playground installers to ensure that they meet the manufactures specifications in order to comply to the CSA standards. The most important factor in keeping playgrounds at a safe level is to maintain and upgrade them on a regular basis. This is key to preventing playground injuries.
Unfortunately there is no law in place that governs the regular maintenance and safety checks of existing playgrounds. Playgrounds should have safety inspections performed on regular intervals by a Canadian Certified Playground Inspector in order to avoid preventable injuries. Certified Playground Inspectors have been trained to find hazards in playground structures and surfacing that may not be obvious to the regular bystander.
One of the most important factors in preventing injuries on a playground is the playground surfacing. Over time, engineered wood fibre compacts down and becomes a very unforgiving surface for children to fall on. The engineered wood fibre needs to be raked out and topped up on a regular basis in order to meet safety standards. Many older playgrounds do not have adequate play surfacing, which is causing concussions and broken bones when children fall. Rubber tile play surfacing also needs to be maintained and checked on regular intervals in order to repair or replace pieces, or upgrade it once shows signs of wear and no longer provides adequate fall protection.
Over time pieces on the play equipment can start to wear or break and therefore it is equally important for maintenance checks to be performed on all playground equipment at regular intervals. Certified Playground Inspectors may find safety concerns that are potentially fatal such as entanglement hazards, as well as non-fatal issues that have occurred with time and use that need to be dealt with immediately. Repairs may be performed to bring the play equipment back up to the required safety standards, but if deemed unsafe, the playground should be taken out of commission immediately until it can be repaired or replaced.
It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to keep playgrounds at a safe level for children to play at. The majority of injuries occur on playgrounds when play equipment and play surfacing has not been kept up to safety standards, thus making them an unsafe place for children to play.
These preventable injuries are showing an increased need for mandatory safety inspections to be performed by Certified Playground Inspectors on regular intervals on all play spaces across Canada.