Outdoor Playground Equipment Safety
If you have backyard playground equipment, you’ll want to make it a fun and safe place for kids to play. The good news is that you can help prevent many of the potential hazards that could possibly pose an injury risk.
We will provide you with some important safety information you need to know about planning, constructing, and maintaining an outdoor home playground. As well as a simple reminder to supervise children and teach them how to play appropriately on the equipment. Common Sense is now all that's required!
Plan Your Play Area
Choosing a Site
When you plan a backyard playground a location away from roads and driveways; and readily visible from inside the home and outdoor areas, is important. So, keep the following points in mind:
Plan and prepare a site free of obstacles that could cause injuries – such as low overhanging tree branches, overhead wires, tree stumps and/or roots, large rocks, bricks, and concrete.
Choose as level a location as possible for the playground equipment. This can reduce the likelihood of the playground equipment tipping over.
Play equipment should be placed approximately 2 metres from any structure or obstacle, such as a house, fence, sheds, trees or poles. Swings will need to be placed further away from structures to the front and rear of the swings – a distance equal to twice the height of the top bar from which the swing is suspended.
Providing Play Areas
Children can not only injure themselves when they fall, but also when they run in and around play equipment. to help minimise the risks, you can do the following:
Plan the placing of play equipment so that there is enough room for children to use each piece safely and unimpeded, while not impeding or posing a danger to other players. For example, a playground slide should not exit in front of a swing.
Place each piece of play equipment so that it has about 2 metres of play area around it. The areas in front of and behind swings need even more clear space - a distance equal to twice the height of the top bar from which the swing is suspended.
Where possible, it is a good idea to separate younger children's quieter activities from the more busy activities. For example, place sand-pits and/or play-house entrances away from swings and slides.
Consider using shock-absorbing surfacing material underneath backyard play equipment to about 2 metres beyond the edge.
Pick the Right Construction Materials
Whether your play equipment is made of metal, wood, or plastic, keep the following in mind:
Steel should be painted, powder-coated, galvanised or otherwise treated to prevent rust, corrosion and deterioration – Do not use paint containing lead!
Wood, intended for outdoor use, should be naturally rot-resistant and insect-resistant (e.g; macrocarpa, cedar or some hardwoods), Rough sawn timber is not suitable for use on playground equipment.
Hardware is an important component in assembling a play set. Protruding bolts and open hooks can cause cuts and scrapes or can tangle clothing – a possible strangulation hazard. To avoid these potential hazards:
Use corrosion-resistant bolts and screws NOT nails!
Fasten all play equipment bolts, screws, washers, and nuts tightly. To prevent bolts from loosening, always use lock washers, self-locking nuts, or other locking means.
Protruding bolts are a potential hazard. Cover exposed bolt ends with plastic caps, or counter-sink bolts sufficient to be flush with surface.
All hooks and “S” hooks should be completely closed. Open-ended hooks may be used in the case of Swing Hangers only. Unacceptable hook closures create a potential clothing entanglement hazard.
Anchor, Assemble, and Maintain Your Play Equipment
It is recommended that Play structures be anchored to keep from tipping over while in use.
Where applicable, follow instructions supplied with play equipment for anchoring.
Be sure anchors are buried or otherwise covered with protective surfacing. Exposed anchors, hooks, bolts, etc. can create tripping hazards or lead to other injuries.
When not building your own Play fort, Play-house or Swing Set, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for correct assembly.
Wherever possible, install your play equipment on level ground and anchor in place. Use proper hardware, and tighten all connections.
Place any swings connected at a single point in separate swing bays. These swings are capable of 360-degree rotation, for example: Disc Swings and Tyre Swings are not compatible in the same space as other swinging accessories.
Disc swings should be suspended from rope that cannot be separated to create a strangulation hazard.
WARNING: Adults should be aware of the strangulation hazards associated with ropes and take precautions through supervision and instruction to ensure children do not become entangled.
Keeping a play set in good condition is essential to reduce injuries. The following maintenance schedule is recommended: