Children’s playgrounds are a space for fun and learning, but if they are not designed and maintained with care, they can be very dangerous. It is estimated that there are about 40,000 injuries to children on playgrounds each year which end up with the child going to hospital. These injuries can include fractures, cuts and head injuries, which don’t happen as often these days, ever since concern rose around the rise in playground injuries in the 1970’s. This is when public and private playgrounds started to be improved in various ways, to help them become a safer place for children to play.
Health and safety has come a long way since then, but there are a lot of ways that caregivers, parents, educational facilities and public play space providers can make playgrounds safer for children. Overall, this could include:
- Choosing safe and trusted suppliers of playground equipment & installation
- Investing in regular professional playground checks
- Ensuring playground equipment is quickly placed off limits in the event it is found to be unsafe
- Ensuring playground equipment is quickly fixed if found to be unsafe
- Only ever having the safest play equipment installed into a playground space
- Putting strong supervision into place
- Keeping children on age-appropriate equipment only
- Ensuring kids are using play equipment correctly
- Keeping playgrounds safe and secure with fencing and quick cleanup of hazardous materials
- Keeping children from playing in unsafe weather conditions
- Ensuring children wear the correct clothing for play
Of all the above actions, though, the best thing you can do to maintain safety levels in your playground is to build awareness of risks, laws, regulations and other factors so that your preventative actions are as comprehensive and effective as possible. For law and legislation compliance, and the well-being of children utilising the playground space, we all want to keep kids safe as much as we possibly can.
Common Types Of Playground Injuries
There are a wide range of injuries that are common in playgrounds, such as: grazes, cuts and bruises. These injuries usually don’t require care from the GP or hospital and are expected when children play anywhere, even at home. Some injuries, however, are more serious and can include:
- Injuries to the internal organs
- Deep cuts/ lacerations
Sadly, there are also fatalities that occur in the UK, with around one playground equipment related fatality reported every 3-4 years.
Around 40% of injuries in a playground relate to the equipment being used, and over three-quarters of those injuries usually relate to falls, which are most commonly associated with swings, and are least likely with the use of fireman’s poles. These statistics can relate to the fact that some equipment, like swings, are more regularly used than other pieces of equipment, and therefore injuries are more probable because of the popularity of that particular structure.
What Causes Playground Injuries?
There are lots of different reasons that playground injuries can occur. Falls are a common cause of serious injury, as children might lose their balance, slip, trip or otherwise fall from the equipment. They can be injured falling from the equipment, being trapped by the equipment as they fall (such as strangulation), and by hitting the equipment as they fall.
Cuts are also common in the playground, often as children fall on, or touch broken glass that has not been cleaned away. Other similar injuries breaking the skin could be cuts from sharp surfaces or objects, splinters, and even dog bites where uncontrolled animals have been allowed to enter the space.
Sometimes children can gain an injury from trapping their fingers or hands in chains, or between the moving parts of a piece of equipment, resulting in bruising, grazes or even fractures. Occasionally, children can also be injured because they have been struck by another child using a piece of equipment, or by the piece of equipment moving.
Clearly, the more run down and under-maintained a playground is, the more likely a child will injure themselves in that play space. The addition of rubbish, hazardous materials and the degrading of equipment greatly enhances the chance of a child hurting themselves in the playground.
Preventing Injuries In Playgrounds
There is a lot to be done to ensure that playground injuries are as unlikely as possible. Here’s a quick overview of what you can do to prevent injuries in your playground space;
Choose A Trusted Playground Equipment Supplier
A trusted playground equipment supplier like Sovereign Play Equipment will be able to supply you with the highest quality play equipment, all meeting the latest laws, legislation and guidelines when it comes to safety. This service can include playground surface laying, playground design and the installation of additional security measures, as below.
Use Adequate Security Measures
To help reduce the likelihood of illegal trespassing and animals like dogs entering the playground (and the associated injuries related to these issues) consider using additional security measures like fencing.
Ensure Close Supervision
Close supervision by a caregiver like a teacher or a parent is very helpful in preventing injuries to children in the playground. Adults can ensure children are using the equipment in the right way, ensuring there aren’t too many children on one piece of equipment. Adults can also provide physical support/ guidance in the event a child requires it for the safest use of the playground.
Inspect & Have Regular Professional Inspections
Adults should regularly inspect a playground before children use it, looking out for any changes in the space, including:
- Any extensive rotting or degrading of materials
- Any broken pieces of equipment
- Any broken glass or other dangerous debris on the playground
- Hazardous spillages
- Degraded or damaged playground surface
- Any dysfunction in the way the equipment works
- Any extensive signs of wear
If an issue is detected, the area should be cordoned off until the problem can be effectively resolved. Additionally it is a really good idea to have a professional company like Sovereign Play Equipment inspect your equipment to ensure it stays in great condition. This also helps to keep the equipment safe, and if there is an issue, ensures it gets fixed quickly before the problem gets any bigger.
Any procedures, actions or guidelines relating to your playground space should be clearly outlined in employee handbooks, on signage, within online information packs and anywhere else that playground users can benefit from the information. With educational facility playgrounds, staff should be trained on correct playground procedures to ensure they know how to fully support safe play in that specific outdoor area.
Speak To Sovereign Play Equipment To Find Out More About Compliance
Sovereign Play Equipment can help you design the perfect playground, enhancing the aesthetic and function of your outdoor space, and greatly benefiting the children able to use the equipment everyday.
Please get in touch so that we can discuss all the safety measures we take in every aspect of our work, including the compliance inspection packages we can offer to help your equipment stay in great shape season after season. We’re proud to maintain such high standards with our work and hope that you will let us help you cultivate a fun, safe, beautiful play environment for the children in your care to enjoy day to day.