Playground play is important for healthy, active living and can contribute to child development. Parents and caregivers often assume that injuries are a natural and unavoidable consequence of play. Yet playground injuries can be serious, ranging from broken bones to head and spinal injuries, largely from falls. Deaths are rare and almost always caused by strangulation. Playground injuries can be prevented by using equipment that meets current safety standards, by ensuring there is a deep, soft surface under the equipment, and by actively supervising children at play.
Solution: Education, Enforcement and Engineering
Playground injuries can be prevented by using safer equipment and meeting current Canadian safety standards. Fall injuries can be prevented with design features including barriers, guardrails, adequate surfacing and safer fall heights. The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) developed the nationally recognized standard for children’s play spaces and equipment. This standard specifies numerous design and maintenance criteria to reduce the risk and severity of injury, such as hand rails and barriers and a deep, soft surface under equipment. Appropriate surfacing can reduce the severity of the injury compared to a fall on a harder surface.
Recent research by The Hospital for Sick Children showed that school playgrounds in Toronto that had been upgraded to the CSA standard had a 49 per cent decrease in injuries compared to schools whose playground equipment had not been upgraded. The researchers concluded that an estimated 520 injuries may have been prevented during the four year study period. These results highlight the significant role of engineering and design in preventing playground injuries.
Additional information on playground safety is available at The Canadian Standards Association: Playground standard.