Any manufacturer of commercial playground equipment will tell you that they build their equipment in compliance with the relevant standards or guidelines, and for the most part, they do. After all, no company is looking to cause any injuries to their playground users. However, building compliant products is only the beginning when it comes to having safe play equipment in the park.
After the equipment leaves the factory, it arrives in the hands of the playground installer. Depending on the purchasing process, this may vary from a factory-trained playground specialist to a general contractor who is building the entire park and surroundings. The best route to a playground which meets standards is to make sure the installation team are certified in the relevant playground standards that apply to your region, such as CPSI or CCPI. In North America, the International Playground Contractor’s Association maintains a list of playground installation contractors who are certified. Assembling playground equipment is like putting together a very large jigsaw puzzle. It is therefore very important to have a playground builder that is used to seeing and assembling play equipment and knows how to make sure it is built in compliance with the standards and with the manufacturer’s instructions.
The final lynchpin of a safe and compliant playground is the maintenance aspect. In today’s economic climate, certain regions are finding that funding for performing maintenance isn’t as available as it used to be. However, performing regular maintenance on playgrounds is extremely important to ensuring the playground stays safe and compliant, as well as increasing the longevity of the equipment itself. While some manufacturers are doing their best to make equipment as low-maintenance as possible, no commercial playground equipment is completely maintenance-free and it is up to the organization responsible for the playground to establish a reasonable maintenance program based on manufacturer’s recommendations, how much use the equipment receives, the age of the equipment and the resources available to the organization.
Having safe, reliable playground equipment isn’t hard, but it takes all three aspects – design, installation and regular maintenance – working together to ensure that the playground stays safe for years to come.