Code Enforcement

7. It may help installers, and the independent Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSIs) who check behind them, if misinterpretations of the rules were not so common. One installer stated that a protruding bolt was exempt since he could not get to it with his grinder or a bolt-cutter, even though it was an “accessible” bolt to fall onto!

Solution: Replace protruding bolts with shorter ones.

I’ve gone behind CPSIs who pass structures that should fail, and vice versa. Realize that, if you cannot find the violation in the ASTM Standards or CPSC Guidelines, it may become a matter of professional judgment. Unfortunately, this varies from inspector to inspector, depending upon their involvement in the field, the amount of time spent doing audits, involvement in the creation of the rules, etc. For example, an owner was told by an independent CPSI to remove a slide because it was too high, which is not a rule by ASTM or CPSC. That same CPSI said there was no problem with an 8-foot-high swing placed 9 feet away from a sidewalk in its swing trajectory (which requires it to be at least 16 feet away). Bad calls can be made by anyone. But, if the installer positioned it correctly the first time, it would not be an issue.

We can all learn from each other, and if we apply that knowledge in a useful way, we will find that someone else’s findings may alleviate liability for us. More importantly, it may keep a child from becoming injured. Isn’t that what matters most?

Scott Burton owned and operated a major playground/park manufacturing company and sold it to continue being an international safety consultant. In the industry since 1981, he now owns Safety Play Inc., and travels the United States as well as overseas. He is a Certified Playground Safety Inspector and is also S.A.F.E. Certified by the National Program for Playground Safety. Burton can be reached via e-mail at

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  3. High-Frequency Playground Inspections
  4. Playground Safety Is No Accident
  5. Safe Play

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