Category: Dirty Dozen

Lack of Supervision

The supervision of a playground environment directly relates to the overall safety of the environment. A play area should be designed so that it is easy for a parent or caregiver to observe the children at play. Young children are constantly challenging their own abilities, often not being able to recognize potential hazards. Parents must supervise their children at all times on the playground!

Trip Hazards

Trip hazards are created by play structure components or items on the playground. Common trip hazards often found in play environments include:

  • Exposed concrete footings
  • Abrupt changes in surface elevations
  • Tree roots
  • Tree stumps
  • Rocks

Insufficent Equipment Spacing

Improper spacing between pieces of play equipment can cause overcrowding of a play area, resulting in unsafe play conditions. Each item of play equipment has a use zone around it where protective surfacing material is applied. These use zones may overlap for certain types of equipment.

  • Equipment less than 30 inches in height may overlap use zones with six feet in between.
  • Equipment higher than 30 inches must have nine feet in between each structure.
  • The to-fro area of swings, the exit area of slides, standing rocking equipment and merry-go-rounds may not overlap use zones. This provides room for children to circulate and prevents the possibility of a child falling off of one structure and striking another.
  • Swings and merry-go-rounds should be located near the boundary of the playground.

Entrapment In Openings

Enclosed openings on playground equipment must be checked for head entrapment hazards. Children often enter openings feet first and attempt to slide through the opening. If the opening is not large enough, it may allow the body to pass through the opening but entrap the head.

Generally, there should be no openings on playground equipment that measure between 3.5 to 9 inches. Where the lower boundary of the opening is formed by the protective surfacing, the opening is not considered to be hazardous.

Pay special attention to:

  • Openings at the top of a slide
  • Openings between platforms
  • Openings on climbers where distance between rungs might be less than nine inches
  • Partially bounded openings such as seen on the top of a picket fence

Protrusion and Entanglement Hazards

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

Some protrusions are also capable of catching strings or items of clothing worn around a child’s neck. This type of entanglement is especially hazardous because it might result in strangulation.

Examples of protrusion and entanglement hazards include:

  • Bolt ends that extend more than two threads beyond the face of the nut
  • Hardware configurations that form a hook or leave a gap or space between components
  • Open “S” type hooks
  • Rungs or handholds that protrude outward from a support structure may be capable of penetrating the eye socket

Also, special attention should be paid to the area at the top of slides and sliding devices. Protruding hardware and some gaps may act as a hook and catch clothing. Ropes should be anchored securely at both ends and not be capable of forming a loop or a noose.