Last month I gave my perspective on how playground-related injuries and the different severity of injuries do not necessarily correlate with the notion a currently compliant playground will eliminate or substantially reduce the frequency or severity of injuries. The question which needs to be answered is whether or not performance requirements for both equipment and impact attenuation surface systems are addressing the level of injury, specifically life-threatening and debilitating.
Two months ago I ended my column with the following statement: “Assuming the ISO TC 83 terminology paper “Injury and Safety Definitions and Thresholds” is approved and published, I will discuss the definitions for different types of injuries and break down each type into various levels of severity.” As of end of 2013, the document has not been voted on.
Just a few weeks ago I received an email alert about a 7-year-old girl’s death on a playground in the State of Washington. This recent death of a young girl has once again placed our public playgrounds under the microscope of media scrutiny. I have a concern with how the media and public playground owners are reacting to this story. Some public agency governing boards and administrators have already taken action even though the facts of the case are still under investigation.
You cannot even begin to design an inclusive playground if you have not dealt with that most basic concept of ensuring that everyone can access your space. The number one barrier to a playground is surfacing. When I was traveling this summer, I saw many instances of non-maintained surfacing that impacted not only the accessibility of the playground, but also the safety.