Play It Safe on the Playground!

The following 10 playground hazards may be hiding on your child’s playground area. Children are severely injured and admitted to an emergency room as a result of a playground related accident.

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), through its National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) has identified the below hazards as the leading causes of injury on playgrounds.

Should you identify any of the following hazards on your playground, notify the owner/operator about the condition of the play area, so that they may take steps to eliminate the hazards.

  1. Trip Hazards - created by play structure components or items on the playground. Common trip hazards include: exposed concrete footings, abrupt changes in surface elevations, tree roots, tree stumps, and rocks.

  2. Lack of Supervision - the supervision of a playground environment directly relates to the overall safety of the environment. Parents and/or Caregivers must supervise children at all times on the playground.

  3. Age-Inappropriate Activities - in an effort to provide a challenging and safe play environment for all ages, it is important to make sure that the equipment in the playground setting is appropriate for the age of the intended user.

  4. Improper Protective Surfacing - The surface or ground under/around the playground equipment should be soft enough to cushion a fall.

    Special Note: Improper surfacing material under playground equipment is the leading cause of playground-related injuries.

  5. Inadequate Use Zone - is the area under and around playground equipment where a child might fall. A use zone should be covered with protective surfacing material.

  6. Lack of Maintenance - in order for playgrounds to remain in “safe” condition, a schedule of systematic, preventative maintenance must be present.

  7. Crush, Shearing and Sharp Edge Hazards - components in the play environment should be inspected to make sure there are no sharp edges or points that could penetrate skin.

  8. Platforms with No Guardrails - elevated surfaces such as platforms, ramps, and bridges should have guardrails to help prevent accidental falls.

  9. Protrusion & Entanglement Hazards - component or piece of hardware that is capable of impaling or cutting a child, if a child should fall against the hazard.

    Special Note: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission does not recommend the use of drawstrings on children’s outwear because of the potential strangulation hazard.

  10. Insufficient Equipment Spacing - improper spacing between pieces of play equipment can cause overcrowding of a play area, resulting in unsafe play conditions.

Further resources information on playground safety:

International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA)

National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM)

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)