A Playground Safety Update

By Wallach, Frances | Parks & Recreation, April 1998 | Go to article overview

A Playground Safety Update


Wallach, Frances, Parks & Recreation


The concern for promoting safety on the playgrounds has been escalating since 1975, when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) began work on the development of its Handbook for Public Playground Safety. The handbook, finally published in February 1981, was categorized as a "guideline," not a "standard," and there were many conflicting opinions about the necessity to adhere to an advisory publication that was not a legislated mandate.

The handbook existed for 10 years without revision and in that time, since it was the only existing federal document promoting playground safety, it became the state-of-art reference in parks and playgrounds. Seminars were held across the country promoting the handbook's recommendations, the contents of the publication began to appear consistently in lawsuits, and the interest in reducting the number and severity of playground injuries slowly grew. By 1988, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) had undertaken a project to develop a voluntary national standard for public-use playground equipment. And, by 1991, CPSC had issued a revised handbook, while the National Recreation and Park Association developed a National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) to certify National Playground Safety Inspectors. These inspectors would be qualified to audit and inspect playgrounds and to identify hazards, so that measures could be taken to upgrade the safety levels for children.

The NPSI Institutes have been phenomenally successful, starting with a single institute and growing into more than 30 institutes in 1997. Training sessions were held across the country, and at least 30 more will be scheduled this year. There are now more than 2,500 Certified Playground Safety Inspectors in the U.S. some of them having already re-certified after three years. …

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