Each year 200,000 children visit hospital emergency rooms for playground-related injuries. Sadly, fifteen of those children will die as a result of those injuries. The vast majority of playground related injuries resulting in a trip to an emergency room were caused by falls. Statistics show that up to 79% of playground-related injuries could be prevented by eliminating injury-producing falls.
These injuries can and should be reduced. Most playground injuries are not the fault of the child or improper adult supervision. On the contrary, 66% of all playground injuries are the result of poor playground maintenance, improper equipment, faulty installation and poor layout and design. This means that approximately 132,000 children are needlessly injured on playgrounds each year and another ten lives are lost due to the negligence of others.
These injuries are occurring at commercial child care facilities, apartment complexes, parks, restaurants, resorts, schools and public recreation developments. These injuries will be reduced when these entities address the hazards frequently found at their facilities. A playground hazard is something that is hidden, unforeseen, or unexpected to the child or his parents. They are not hidden to those properly trained in inspecting and maintaining a public playground.
Any entity that provides a playground for public use has a duty to provide the following with regard to the design of the playground: proper layout, age-appropriate safe equipment, proper surfacing, appropriate materials, proper playground assembly and installation. There are many factors that go into each of these issues and each should be appropriately addressed at the design stage to reduce the number of playground injuries. Currently, two out of three playground injuries are a result of these design and assembly factors resulting in 87,120 injuries each year.
The duty does not stop at the design of the playground. Many entities that provide playgrounds hire outside corporations to design and assemble the playground. At that point, they feel their responsibility ends. Yet, poor maintenance is responsible for one in three playground accidents or 43,000 injuries per year. Any entity providing a public playground has a duty to inspect and correct the following hazards: broken or damaged equipment; hazardous debris; loose anchoring; surfacing problems; user modifications; vandalism; worn, loose or missing parts; wood splitting; rot; rust; tripping hazards; sharp points, choking hazards, entanglement or impalement risks; crush or shear points; and head entrapment.
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