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Wednesday, 04 September 2013 17:03

Why Commercial Playground Equipment Needs to be Inspected

The recent incident in Fern Tree Gully Park is another horrific reminder why we need to regularly inspect commercial playground equipment. According to the Herald Sun, a four-year old girl was playing in a spinning runabout when her hand got caught in the equipment. The accident resulted in a severed finger and she needed immediate medical attention.

Surely this isn't the first accident to happen in a playground. Even when Australian Standard 4685 is in effect, it only implements a minimum benchmark that playground equipment need to meet. This is still dependent on how strictly it is enforced by legislation. The initiative has to come from the people/ organisations who own and maintain playgrounds.

Playgrounds are used mainly by our children, and they are the number one reason why we should take that extra step in ensuring that these are safe places. The Australian Standards for Playgrounds acknowledges that playgrounds are not meant to be completely without risks. But then again, a commitment to their regular inspection can go a long way in minimising untoward incidents.

Types of Playground Inspections
There are different types of playground inspections; a playground owner/ operator's responsibility does not stop at its installation. Owners and operators should coordinate with fully trained and accredited safety inspectors, such as Star Structures, to insure compliance with current safety standards.

It all starts with a Playground Compliance Audit. This comes after playground installation and before it is opened to the public. The inspection ensures that the new playground meets the Australian Standards for Playgrounds guidelines. Suppliers and installers should be held to their work and it is always a good idea to fulfill final payments to them only once their work passes the audit. The audit can also be done for operating playgrounds that have not been subjected to it, and places like the Fern Tree Gully Park playground that have questionable safety compliance.

This should then be followed up with regular inspections: routine inspection, operational inspection and comprehensive inspection; which differ in time interval and depth.

Routine inspection is the most basic and it should be done at least once a week, depending on how often the playground is used. This involves a simple visual checkup of all equipment to see if there are hazards and risks caused by the weather, daily usage and vandalism. This can be conducted by a certified safety inspector. Or, the owner/ operator can opt to get training from inspectors or registered training organisations so they can do routine inspections themselves.

An operational onspection should be conducted at least once per quarter. For heavily-used grounds, a once a month inspection is advised. This type of inspection checks the stability and operability of equipment, and if these equipment still comply with general safety standards.

Once a year, a playground should be subjected to a comprehensive inspection. This checks the overall compliance of equipment to current safety and operational standards. It covers the quipment, foundation, surfaces and structures.

For Our Kids Sake
There is no more compelling reason to conducting regular inspection of playground equipment than our children. Playgrounds play an important part of everyone’s childhood. It is not just about play. It is where children first learn how to socialise. It is where they make their first friends. It is up to us to make sure these venues are child-safe.

Local Commercial Playground Examples
Here are some examples.

This is what an uninspected playground looks like:

The dangers are obvious and it is doubtful if any parent would allow their child to go to this playground.

But then again, this isn’t as shocking as what we found in playgrounds that are regularly inspected:

This worn-out bold came from a Flying Fox that was only 3 years old.

Without inspection, an accident would have happened within weeks.

Another example is this 1 year old playground.

Fatigued cast-iron brackets were found in one of its yellow tube tunnels.

These are usually not obvious to untrained personnel – what more to parents and children who frequent these ground.

Regular inspection of commercial playgrounds ensure the safety of children. Owners and operators can look forward to the continued patronage and trust of the people they built these playgrounds.

Read 1351007 times Last modified on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 18:07