Playground Safety- Protect your children and your Association
against a community association in a playground safety suit from a 2013 incident was awarded $20 million in damages).
Your community can and should provide a playground that is both fun and safe for your children by checking equipment for potential hazards and providing proper supervision and play rules.
The primary assistance a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) can offer to most Community Associations is the performance of safety audits. A safety audit is essentially a report detailing safety hazards observed on the existing playground facility(ies), and is the primary method through which a Community Association verifies the overall safety of its playground facility(ies). Safety audits are one of the most basic components of a diligent playground maintenance program. Upon complete installation of a new playground facility, before it is opened for use, the facility should be given an initial safety audit. In addition, existing facilities should be audited after significant alterations, renovations, equipment replacements, or new equipment installations. The safety audit should compare the installation to manufacturer installation instructions (if available), Uniform Construction Code requirements (currently 2010 edition of CPSC Publication Number 325, “Handbook for Public Playground Safety”), and the Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use (ASTM F1487), insofar as this standard can be applied to in situ non-destructive inspections, as well as creating a report submitted to the Association for its records and to act upon (if necessary). Please note that initial conformance to these standards is not a guarantee of continued conformance, the community must understand that the installation of a playground implies the acceptance of a continued responsibility to monitor, maintain, and possibly supervise the facility in order to keep the facility in compliance with safety standards. In order to verify continuing compliance with playground safety standards, every playground maintenance program should include regular safety inspections (preferable inspection frequency is dependent upon the types and ages of equipment and the usage patterns of the playground) – regular inspections of the existing equipment is the only way to verify that the equipment still adheres to the safety standard established during the safety audit. Every safety audit should include a detailed inspection of the equipment and play surfaces. These standards currently relate mostly to sharp edges, entrapment hazards, tripping hazards, and play area surface material, location, and installation depth. • A plan of the playground equipment layout and of any composite play structures. • Copies of all available documents regarding the warranties, manufacturer installation instructions, previous inspection reports, and maintenance activity reports/work orders related to the playground equipment. The Association should keep all of this information on hand, preferably in an organized fashion in a single location. The CPSI will also, of course, need access to the playground to inspect the equipment. Documented safety audits over the life of the playground facility are one of the basic foundations of a maintenance documentation trail that demonstrates due diligence and correct original installation of equipment in regards to a playground facility. In order to perform an effective safety audit, the CPSI should have: • An inventory of the playground equipment.
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