With all that it takes to manage a playground, it is easy to understand how an inspection or maintenance check could fall to the bottom of the list of priorities. However, regular care and maintenance of your playground is not only important, it is a necessary safety requirement.
Well-made commercial grade playground equipment should last a considerable amount of time, especially if properly maintained. Regular maintenance means that the equipment and surfacing are inspected at least once a year, or more often if needed. Having an inspection ensures that the equipment and surfacing continue to meet all federal and safety standard guidelines.
At the time of installation, the equipment should meet all the safety guidelines, but over time and with regular use, it is possible for connections to become loose or even break. Broken equipment can lead to accidents, injuries, and increased liability. Community members may report a broken piece on the playground, but there is a possibility that problems may not be reported as well. Regular inspection can ensure that issues are noticed and fixed.
The same can be said of surfacing. Over time, surfacing can become non-compliant. Engineered wood fiber is particularly susceptible to falling out of compliance. Engineered wood fiber requires a yearly top off to continue to meet fall height requirements for playground safety. Other types of surfacing such as pour in place rubber (EPDM), tiles or rubber mulch can also wear or breakdown and require inspection to maintain compliance and safety.
When considering playground inspections and maintenance checks, advance planning is key. Budgeting time and money for inspections on the front end will ensure that compliance is maintained. It can be helpful to establish an annual time for playground and surfacing inspections and to maintain that schedule over time. Allocating budgetary funds for safety surfacing replenishment and potential playground repairs will make staying compliant as painless as possible and make it more likely that issues are addressed quickly. Finally, designating a person or department that is responsible for any inspections or maintenance will also ensure that there is someone responsible for regularly scheduling the maintenance.