By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network
The U.S. Product Safety Commission publishes guidelines and recommendations for the set up, maintenance, and supervision of children in playgrounds in the publication – Public Playground Safety Handbook. Because playgrounds are present in virtually every school, community, day care center, and park, it is important that guidelines and recommendations are considered and followed when reasonable and practical to do so.
As noted in the Handbook, not all playground equipment is suitable for a particular age group or for children using or having access to the playground site. In order to determine if a playground is appropriate for a certain age group. The following guidelines are set forth in the Handbook:
Toddlers (Children in this group range in age from 6 months old to 23 months old.)
Playground equipment should include ramps, stairways, and swings with bucket seats. If ladders are in place, ladders should be single file / person ladders. Climbing equipment should be under 32 inches high.
Pre-School (Children in this group range in age from 2 years old to 5 years old.)
If ladders are in place, ladders should be single file ladders. Climbing equipment should be less than or equal to 60 inches in height for children ages 4 years old and 5 years old.
Grade School (Children in this group range in age from 5 years old to 12 years old.)
See Public Playground Safety Handbook for what equipment would be appropriate for this age group.
While it is important to have children playing in an age appropriate playground, it is also important for there to be adequate and appropriate supervision. Children often times will misuse equipment or engage in dangerous stunts. Because of the curiosity of children as well as the developing motor skills, supervision should be present at all times. Supervision of children on playgrounds should include the following:
Check the surface of the playground;
Inspect the playground for broken or damaged equipment;
Check the playground for unsafe modifications including but limited to ropes that are added to the equipment but are not part of the original design and are not provided by the manufacturer;
Removing any broken glass or other items that may cause harm to the children;
Require that the children wear appropriate foot wear; and
Keeping children in the playground area so that they do not wander away or subject to abduction by strangers.
The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Playground Injuries, Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, and other topics.
The book was written by David Wolf, an attorney who has dedicated his entire legal career to the protection and enforcement of the rights of children. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.