On school playgrounds, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Unfortunately, if maintenance crews are not on their A-game when it comes to inspections, accidents and injuries can occur when they could easily be prevented.
An example is from North Carolina, where a lack of standardized regulations allows for inspection discrepancies from playground to playground. Because certain schools decide to slack on how often they examine their equipment, they could be leaving students susceptible to injuries that would be entirely avoidable - if their maintenance teams were more vigilant about their preventive maintenance tasks.
Playground injuries can be prevented
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that most - 44 percent - accidents occurring on playgrounds throughout the country each year are the result of falls. While maintenance teams cannot stop children from taking a tumble, they do play a critical role in inhibiting other incidents from happening by ensuring that equipment is in prime condition and playgrounds are up to code. Consider that nearly one-fourth of total cases in which children become hurt on the playground is due to faulty equipment. The importance of guaranteeing that all components of their recreational areas are secure will become evident.
Although it is inevitable that a number of children will experience some sort of injury while playing, there are ways in which schools can cut down on the likelihood of their equipment being at the root of these issues. In North Carolina, for example, people are pointing to thorough routine inspections as the best possible solution for staying proactive and ensuring that they can identify and address parts of their playgrounds that are in poor condition.
Routine inspections are the answer
As is the case with various states throughout the nation, North Carolina officials have established a set of explicit regulations that schools must follow when they are constructing playgrounds, but do not have any guidelines mandating regular inspections. Because there is no standard schedule for examining equipment across the state, the quality of maintenance varies considerably among different schools.
WRAL spotlighted Raleigh, which has made playground maintenance a top priority. This city boasts a five-person team that scrutinizes equipment a couple of times each week, pinpointing problem areas and shutting down subpar components until they can be repaired, so as these pieces no longer pose a risk to children at play.
"If you're not looking and you're not touching and you're not feeling, there ain't no way you can make sure all the bolts is tight," Darryl Gardner, inspection supervisor in Raleigh, told the news source. "There ain't no way you can be sure it's safe for the kids to be playing on."
Because there is no kind of standardization, this sense of diligence when it comes to preventive maintenance is not consistent across all of the counties in North Carolina. WRAL reported that there are some school systems that evaluate their equipment on a quarterly basis, while others have their teams assess their playgrounds once a year. As one can imagine, this leaves ample time for wear and tear to take a toll on equipment, making it unsafe for students and putting them in danger of becoming hurt - something that could be avoided altogether if maintenance crews made a commitment to conducting routine inspections.