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North Carolina Day Care Centers / Child Care Centers – What Standards Apply to Surfacing Materials for Playground Areas?

By John Jensen, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network


In North Carolina day care centers /child care centers, outdoor learning environments / playgrounds are regulated by the child care rules set forth at the North Carolina Administrative Code Title 10 A – Health and Human Services – Chapter 9 – Day Care Rules.

As to playground safety, it is important for day care centers to pay close attention to details and regulations as they apply to the ground surfacing of the playground area. North Carolina day care regulations provide the following as acceptable materials for playground surfacing – wood mulch, double shredded bark mulch, fine sand, coarse sand, and pea gravel. The depth of the ground surface is dependent on the height of the playground equipment. Children jump off of playground equipment and often have falls while playing on playground equipment. Proper ground surfacing can help cushion the force or trauma caused by a fall. This, in turn, can help avoid or reduce the extent of child personal injuries on North Carolina day care center playgrounds.

Under Rule 605, Conditions of Outdoor Learning Environments, all outdoor / playground equipment must be in good repair and maintained in a useable condition. The equipment should be sturdy and stable. Inspections and periodic maintenance are important to keep the equipment free from sharp edges, loose nails, splinters, pinch points, and crush points. All broken playground equipment should be removed from the playground or otherwise made inaccessible to the children. Playground areas should be fenced and kept away from bodies of water and other dangerous areas. With proper maintenance of playground equipment and supervision of the children, incidents involving serious personal injuries can be avoided or reduced. If a child is injured as a result of the negligent maintenance of playground equipment or negligent supervision of children, a parent may be able to pursue an insurance claim or civil case against the day care center / child care center. A North Carolina child personal injury attorney / lawyer can help advise parents as to the myriad of legal issues that arise when a child is injured.

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