The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Handbook for Public Safety estimates that more than 200,000 children each year are injured on playground equipment, and the cause is most often due to lack of adult supervision.
The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) says that nearly 40 percent of all playground-related injuries each year can be attributed to inadequate supervision, and recommends that the playground supervision ratio be equal to the indoor classroom ratio.
PTAs Step Up to Help Schools
As schools try to do more with less, concerned parents through PTAs are working with school officials to help improve playground safety.
Adults assisting on school playgrounds need playground safety training to understand supervisor responsibilities and know playground rules. They should be able to perform a daily check to make sure that equipment is not broken, surfacing is at the proper depth under the equipment, and that no trash is found on the ground.
Safer Playground Equipment Design and Maintenance
Playground equipment with crawl spaces, tunnels, and boxed areas need some type of transparent material present to allow a supervisor to see a child inside the space. Adult supervisors should bring reports of broken equipment and hazardous surroundings and surfaces to the attention of the school district to make repairs.
Rules and Guidelines for Playground Equipment Safety
The NPPS believes that all states should adopt the guidelines of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM). The CPSC has created guidelines for both public playground and home playground equipment. The ASTM develops over 12,500 voluntary consensus standards, some of which deal with playground surfacing and equipment.
Only a Few States Make the Grade
At this time, only states Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming have adopted all or parts of CPSC or ASTM guidelines. NPPS gives a grade of B for the states that have adopted the CPSC guidelines, and gives a C grade to those states that have not adopted the CPSC guidelines.