(from nrpa.org document 5141)
The Why... In the time that it will take you to surf our website and learn about playground safety, a child will be severely injured and admitted to an emergency room as a result of a playground accident. It is estimated that each year, over 205,850 such injuries occur in the United States. This year, approximately fifteen children will die from injuries as a result of a playground accident.
The National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) has identified twelve of the leading causes of injuries on playgrounds, and have subsequently published The Dirty Dozen - A Checklist for Safe Playgrounds, a brochure that identifies and discusses these twelve most common safety concerns of playgrounds. By familiarizing yourself with The Dirty Dozen, you can inspect your local playground to see how safe it is.
As parents and caregivers, we are responsible for providing safe play opportunities for our children. Should you identify any of the issues brought up in The Dirty Dozen, notify the owner/operator of the play area of the condition so that they may take steps to eliminate the hazards.
Being knowledgeable about the 12 most common hazards found among play areas gives you the upper edge in the fight to help keep children safe. However, this does not give you the right to "inspect" playgrounds to the point where you've now become a "playground cop".
This is where Certified Playground Safety Inspectors come into play. Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI's) are trained professionals who have the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to complete playground audits and inspections once hired by an owner/operated to do so. The role of the CPSI is to provide an insight into unsafe conditions, and provide recommendations on how to alleviate and correct potential problems. This is generally done in the form of a written report. It is then up to the owner/operator of the play area to make the corrections.
The How... CPSI's inspect and perform audits on PUBLIC playgrounds only. This does not include residential or "private" playgrounds. What defines a public playground, are two things: Generally, a public playground is anchored into the substrate or surface - as opposed to the playground equipment pieces that simply 'sit' on top of the ground.
Generally speaking, if there may be 2 or more children who are not related to each other in one play area, the playground may be considered "Public". Often times, public playgrounds include daycare facilities, church or religious facilities, schools, and more.
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