Preventing Playground Injuries
Playground injuries result mostly from inadequate direct supervision, though inappropriate age or skill-level equipment and improperly maintained equipment often contribute to the problem. All staff members must recognize that they are fully responsible for the children who participate in JCC programs.
Some key points to review with all staff members who interact with children:
- Children's playtime is NOT staff break-time! Whenever children are located on the playground, whether on or not on playground equipment, the staff should be actively supervising the children. Required ratios should be maintained. Actions of and interactions between the children should be carefully scrutinized at all times. Control of the circumstances and events is the staff's responsibility.
- If the JCC utilizes schools, parks, churches, or other sites for any children's activity (before or after school programs, field trips, etc.), the staff should inspect the equipment and grounds before use, daily. If regular use is made of the site, regular documented inspections should be made. If the staff has doubts regarding the safety or age appropriateness of any equipment then the children should be prohibited from using the equipment until appropriate corrective action is taken.
- Children should be allowed to utilize only age appropriate equipment. That determination arises from the experience of an appropriately qualified staff member, not the desires of the children. Increased supervision is not an acceptable substitute for inappropriate age-usage.
- Before the outdoor season begins, safety maintenance inspections should be performed at all sites, whether JCC-controlled or not. If the JCC does not have the authority to correct deficiencies at a site, it should not be used. Issues to address include the following:
- Older equipment should be checked to make certain that it is safe for the children. Any worn “S” hooks or “U” bolts on swings should be replaced.
- Weight bearing and contact surfaces such as slides, decks, etc. should be thoroughly checked for rust or corrosion. Hidden areas, such as undersides should not be overlooked. Abrasions may result when only minimal pressure is applied to areas of seemingly insignificant corrosion.
- Resilient materials should meet CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines (see www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/playpubs.html and www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/reg3a.html respectively for details, but expect governmental jargon).
- See our documents the Playground Safety and the Playground Safety Guidelines on our web site.
Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about JCC risk management issues.