My staff and I conduct playground safety audits all over the country and we often find confusion (by owners, designers, users, and maintenance crews) on what type of equipment should be reviewed to the playground standards. My hope is that the following article can provide some clarification to the confusion. As with many aspects of life, there is a lot of gray and very little black and white on this issue, and I would strongly suggest contacting your equipment manufacturer to receive their opinions.
THE QUESTION: Which came first? The chicken or the egg. Man has been pondering this question forever and now I feel like I am in the middle of the same conundrum with regards to performance requirements for play equipment versus performance requirements for impact attenuation surfaces within the play equipment use zone.
Most child development centers and other early childhood facilities provide playground equipment for their attendees. PlaySafe, LLC conducts audits at many of these playgrounds, and we have found that it is common for the areas to be designed for children older than the intended users. When designing a playground for this type of learning environment, there are three age groups with vastly different needs to keep in mind. The Public Playground Safety Handbook – 325, written by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, covers all three groups and lists them as Toddlers (6 to 23 months), Preschool (2-5 years), and School Age (5-12 years).
In the city of Ocala, located in Marion County, FL, a new initiative around health, fitness, and wellness is proving beneficial to local residents. A new outdoor fitness park, the Health Happens Outdoor Fitness and Walking Trail, located at the Marion County McPherson Complex, is providing the community with an outlet to get fresh air and exercise in the park any time of day.