High-Frequency Playground Inspections

It’s important to realize the difference between high-frequency and low-frequency inspections, as well as safety audits, and their individual roles in playground safety. Although high-frequency inspections are highlighted in this article, they should be viewed as a way to help maintain safe playgrounds between the more in-depth–usually annual–low-frequency inspections that must be conducted by certified playground safety inspectors.

The low-frequency inspection:

·Involves a detailed, itemized inventory of all playground components

·Examines and evaluates the structural integrity and wear concerns of each piece.

Ideally, annual low-frequency inspections should follow a one-time, formal, comprehensive playground audit which:

·Identifies, evaluates. and prioritizes safety issues

·Addresses accessibility as reflected in the American with Disabilities Act requirements

·Provides a schematic design of the layout and use zones, and determines age/size appropriateness, environmental issues and border concerns.

Audits should be performed prior to children using new or renovated playgrounds. If an agency with existing playgrounds has only recently recognized the importance and benefit of inspections, an initial playground safety audit can be performed to establish a baseline report for low-frequency inspections in the future. Although every potential safety concern in a playground cannot be covered, such as child developmental differences, the most common safety concerns are addressed in these inspections.

Training employees to perform high-frequency safety inspections can provide that “ounce of prevention” for safer playgrounds and safer children.

Dr. Marilynn R. Glasser, CPRP, owns Parks and Pastimes, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in dog parks. She can be reached at (800) 967-2757 or via e-mail at www.parksandpastimes.com.

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