The Dirty Dozen Checklist
Are they hiding in your child’s playground?
1. Improper Protective Surfacing
The surface or ground under and around the playground equipment should be soft enough to cushion a fall. Improper surfacing material under playground equipment is the leading cause of playground related injuries. Over seventy percent of all accidents on playgrounds are from children falling. Hard surfaces such as concrete, blacktop, packed earth or grass are not acceptable under play equipment. A fall onto one of these hard surfaces could be life threatening.
There are many surfaces that offer protection from falls. Acceptable surfaces are hardwood fiber/mulch, sand, and pea gravel. These surfaces must be maintained at a depth of twelve inches, be free of standing water and debris, and not be allowed to become compacted. Loose-fill rubber can also be added to a minimum depth of 9″. There are also synthetic or rubber tiles and mats that are appropriate for use under play equipment.
2. Inadequate Fall Zone
A fall zone or use zone is under the area under and around the playground equipment where a child might fall. A fall zone should be covered with protective surfacing material and extend a minimum of six feet in all directions from the edge of stationary play equipment such as climbers and chin up bars. The fall zone at the bottom or exit area of a slide should extend a minimum of six feet from the end of the slide for slides four feet or less in height. For slides higher than four feet, take the entrance height of the slide and add four feet to determine how far the surfacing should extend from the end of the slide. Swings require a much greater area for the fall zone: The fall zone should extend two times the height of the pivot or swing hanger in front of and behind the swings seats. The fall zone should also extend six feet to the side of the support structure. Continue reading 12 common playground hazards