Safe playgrounds that allow our keiki to participate in a variety of activities that support their development physically, emotionally, socially, and creatively are key in building aloha in Hawaiian communities. Understanding how to properly plan and implement a playground maintenance routine will increase the safety of your playground and extend its lifetime.
Benefits of Playground Maintenance
The National Recreation and Park Associations CPSI Course states that an estimated 33% of playground accidents are avoidable with a properly planned maintenance program. Our Kuleana as playground professionals and providers is to ensure every child has a safe place to play, learn, grow, and thrive.
Along with cultivating a safe space that promotes healthy habits for communities, keeping a regularly maintained program also provides the following benefits:
- Protects Your Investment
Maintaining the integrity of your playground’s equipment, surfacing, and landscape ensures the highest return on your investment.
- Reduce Risk
Routine maintenance increases the opportunity of identifying a hazardous situation before an injury occurs, reducing the risk of accidents on the playground.
- Optimize the Play Experience
Ensuring a playground is fully functional maximizes a child’s enjoyment by providing them the highest opportunity for play when they visit a playground site. A consistently well-maintained playground also allows children to trust they have a safe place to interact with friends and express themselves through play.
- Promote Connected Communities
“Maintained and groomed play environments are a source of pride for the community. Taking good care of the playground equipment and maintaining a beautiful environment is an expression of your community’s values.” – GameTime’s “Playground Maintenance Guide, Safety Resource Series”
- Manage Expenses
Implementing a maintenance routine designed to catch hazardous situations before an accident occurs creates a system for accurate budgeting and reduces replacement costs.
Planning a Playground Maintenance Routine
Team Management Suggestions
Your Playground Maintenance Routine will be most successful when everyone associated with the playground, from vendors, manufacturers, owners, and participants, has a role to play in keeping the play site well-kept.
When planning your playground’s maintenance routine, ask the following questions:
- “How do we create a consistent routine with instructions and resources for all contributors to make on-time reports with actionable follow-up steps? “
- “How do we provide necessary information and educators so that all contributors can make informed decisions during their playground inspection?”
- “When will provide opportunities for supervised practice inspections?”
- “What documentation systems will we utilize to record, store, and share play inspection reports?”
- “How can we guarantee that hazardous reports will receive immediate resolution?”
Brainstorm answers to these questions with your Playground Maintenance Team and share the answers somewhere easily accessible for the team’s quick reference.
The purpose of playground inspections is to ensure the proper maintenance of the play area is provided in a timely manner. Regular inspections check for hazards; hazards are anything with the potential to hurt someone. All hazards should be addressed immediately with the minimum currently available solution and followed with a work order to immediately repair or remove the hazard.
Inspection types include:
- Low Frequency: Often performed quarterly or semi-annually, low frequency inspections are in-depth investigations of the playground equipment, surfacing, and landscaping looking for wear and tear. Persons with extensive mechanical knowledge of play equipment and surfacing standards are required for these extensive inspections. With low frequency inspections, the inspector conducts preventative maintenance, repairing damaged equipment or removing the equipment altogether to remedy potential hazards.
- High Frequency: Often performed daily or weekly, high frequency inspections look at the changing conditions of the play area caused by use, weather, and/or vandalism. During high frequency inspections, appointed personnel check the quality of the playground conditions such as loose-fill surfacing depths, sanitation issues, and the presence of trash and debris, correcting these issues throughout the inspection. Upon the discovery of hazards, appointed personnel should follow the school or organization’s procedures, including, but not limited to, completing necessary documentation, taking the area out of use, and/or correcting the problem.
Play environments are constantly changing and your playground maintenance routine needs to be able to change with them. Implement a mix of Low-Frequency and High-Frequency Inspections. Want to make your maintenance routine even more effective? Create a simple system for consumers to notify playground personnel of any damage or potential hazards they notice at the site.
Understanding the difference between a playground audit and a playground inspection is important in securing your investment as well as the safety of playground participants. A playground audit is a one-time event, generally performed before a new playground build project begins, after installation of new equipment or other major repairs and modifications, after catastrophic damage occurs, and whenever industry standards change. Audits are meant to check the playground’s compliance with industry standards and identify potential safety hazards. Playground audits must always be conducted by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI).
Playground inspections, like your maintenance routine, are conducted at regular intervals and focus on immediate hazards. A person does not have to be a playground professional to conduct a high frequency inspection, however, they must be completely educated and trained on the protocol for the playground they are inspecting. Low frequency inspections require a trained playground professional to ensure accurate reports.
When your playground needs an audit, call InspiredPlay Hawaii for assistance in securing a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI). If you have any questions about playground safety and maintenance, drop a comment below and one of our play experts will be happy to answer!