Playground Safety- Protect your children and your Association

PLAYGROUND SAFETY: Protect your children and your Association. LYLE HOFFMAN, CPSI - THE FALCON GROUP Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment provide children with enjoyment, fresh air, and needed physical exercise, but they can also pose as safety hazards. Faulty equipment and/or improper surfaces are conditions that could result in injury to children who are enjoying their time at these playgrounds. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides these following statistics for the years 2009 to 2014: • 3,014 incidents involving playground equipment were reported to the CPSC (including 1,239 incidents involving recalled see-saw seats); of these 66% occurred at home and 26% occurred at restaurants (if the incidents involving the recalled see-saw seats are removed from consideration, 42% of remaining incidents occurred at home, 41% at restaurants, 5% at parks, 4% at schools, and approximately 0.6%, or 10 incidents, at apartments and community associations). • Of the 1,165 incidents where the victim’s age was reported, 542 (47%) reported the victims as being less than 5 years of age and 475 (41%) reported the victims as being between 5 and 9 years of age. • 2,430 (81%) of the reported incidents involved falls or equipment failures. • 2,181 (72%) of the reported incidents involved swings, slides, see-saws/teeter totters, and composite play structures. • 77 (3%) of the reported incidents involved injuries requiring hospitalization. • 34 incidents involving a fatality were reported to the CPSC; victims ages ranged from 13 months to 52 years, with an average age of 7 and a median age of 5. 19 of these deaths involved asphyxiation (hanging/strangulation), including 5 incidents involving slides and 5 incidents involving swings; 12 of these asphyxiations involved a second product (in 3 cases a jump rope, 4 cases a rope, 2 cases a clothing drawstring, 1 case a helmet, 1 case baler twine, and 1 case a toy vehicle). 8 of the reported deaths resulted from head or neck injuries, including 3 incidents involving swings, 2 incidents involving composite play structures, and 1 incident apiece involving a platform, a see-saw, and a football sled. The remaining reported fatalities include two fall incidents, two drownings, one equipment breakage incident, and one incident where a 52-year-old male fell to a concrete surface after the safety harness of a mall rope course attraction became disconnected. There are known to be many more incidents than those reported directly to the CPSC. Those interested in more detailed information regarding injury statistics can go to the CPSC website (https://www.cpsc.gov/Research--Statistics/Injury- Statistics/#playgrounds) to find the original CPSC report “Injuries and Investigated Deaths Associated with Playground Equipment 2009 to 2014” (and the preceding report for 2001 to 2008). Some playground injuries result in litigation against the playground owner (i.e., a Community Association) for negligence, and such litigation can become very costly very quickly. Most of these injuries are preventable with proper supervision and correctly designed, installed, and maintained playground equipment and play area surfaces. Playground safety is an issue that is occasionally forgotten in an Association’s budget for more immediate or political concerns. This sometimes becomes a serious mistake. Notwithstanding the tragedy of an injured child, the potential liability (i.e., the sums that can be awarded from playground safety violations in a court of law) involved in the possession, operation, and maintenance of playground facilities can be immense (in one fairly recent case in Nevada, a claimant -

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