Students must be taught to play safely. Falling from playground structures and
colliding with equipment or other students can result in head, face, oral, and
other musculoskeletal injuries. More than 200,000 playground injuries are reported
each year in the United States. Approximately 75 percent of these injuries are
attributable to falls, mostly from slides, jungle gyms, and other climbing equipment.
Other causes of injury include running into equipment, various collisions, burns
from hot surfaces or equipment, and strangulation. Student conduct related to
playground safety must be also be addressed (Guideline
Schools should follow CPSC
and ASTM International safety guidelines to prevent these types of injuries to
International was formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials.
Guidelines are fairly specific (e.g., do not wear bicycle helmets on play equipment,
details on equipment hardware, inspections for sharp edges) and there are multiple
ways to retrieve this information (e.g., videos, checklists, brochures, instruction
books). Major focus areas include separation of playground areas for different
age groups, installation and maintenance of safe and developmentally appropriate
equipment, use of appropriate surface materials, appropriate fall zone areas,
and adequate supervision at all times. Playground equipment and play surfaces
should be inspected and maintained. Records should be kept of all playground injuries
and reviewed. Injury data should be carefully analyzed and used to guide preventive,
intervention, and education strategies. Inspections should take place on at least
an annual basis (more often depending on life of equipment and surfaces, such
as plastic equipment) and adjustments should be made on the basis of injury cause
data, updated guidelines, and repair records.
American Society for Testing and Materials. Annual Book of ASTM Standards. Vol 15.07. Conshohocken, PA: American Society for Testing and Materials; 2001: Standard consumer safety performance specification for playground equipment for public use. (pp 472-526); Standard specification for determination of accessibility of surface systems under and around playground equipment. (pp 861-867).
Bowers L, Gabbard C. How safe is your playground? Risk factor two: age-appropriate design of safe playgrounds. J Phys Educ Recreation Dance. 2000;71:23-25.
Bruya L. How safe is your playground? Risk factor one: supervision on a safe playground. J Phys Educ Recreation Dance. 2000;71:20-22.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. School health guidelines to prevent unintentional injuries and violence. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2001;50(RR-22):1-73.
Kalinowski LB, Bowler T. Risk factor four: equipment and surfacing maintenance on safe playgrounds. J Phys Educ Recreation. 2000;71:20-24.
Laforest S, Robitaille Y, Dorval D, Lesage D, Pless B. Severity of fall injuries on sand or grass in playgrounds. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2000;54:475-477.
Mack MG, Henderson W. How safe is your playground? Risk factor three: fall surfacing on safe playgrounds. J Phys Educ Recreation Dance. 2000;71:17-19.
National Program for Playground Safety. Summary of Action Steps: Local Level; State Level; National Level. Cedar Falls, IA: University of Northern Iowa; 2001.
Powell, EC, Tanz RR. Cycling injuries treated in emergency departments: need for bicycle helmets among preschoolers. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000 Nov;154(11):1096-100.
US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Handbook for Public Playground Safety. Washington, DC: US Consumer Product Safety Commission; 1997.