News Room


The nuts and bolts of it:

Inspect pivot points, equipment and playground surfaces to ensure child safety


Travis Thompson, Director of Risk Management // Hylant Administrative Services


The coming of spring and warmer weather means kids will soon start spending more time outdoors after being cooped up all winter.


One of the first orders of business this time of year is for entities with parks and park districts is to inspect playgrounds to ensure the equipment and grounds are safe for children. You must make sure the equipment is safe and operational before kids start playing on it.


Playground equipment goes through physical changes because of the freeze and thaw cycle. You particularly want to check out pivot points for wear and tear, and that requires a visual inspection of the equipment and grounds — particularly for loose nuts and bolts, equipment whose integrity might have been compromised, and equipment that is broken or cracked. It is also important to ensure the proper amounts of surfacing materials are present.


The material of which the playground surface is composed is also important, and you need to make sure the material is at the proper depth relative to the height of the equipment.


All the federal recommendations for playgrounds can be found in the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Public Playground Safety Handbook. The book was first published in 1981 and focuses on playground-related injuries and mechanical mechanisms of injury.


Because falls from equipment remain the greatest hazard associated with playgrounds, the handbook recommends equipment not be placed on concrete, asphalt or other paved surfaces that could cause serious head injuries from falls. It also suggests which surfacing materials are best to mitigate the hazards presented by falls from playground equipment. Recommended loose-fill and unitary surfacing materials include wood mulch, pea gravel, sand, gym mats and shredded or recycled rubber mulch.


Your Ohio Plan risk manager is available to answer any questions regarding your entity's parks and playgrounds.