Why playground maintenance is critical for keeping children safe
Each year, nearly a quarter of a million children visit the emergency room as a result of injuries sustained on playgrounds at home, at school, and in parks, while an untold number of less urgent injuries go unreported. Organizations that maintain play structures are left to weigh the proven, fundamental benefits of play against the potential for injury. Reducing risk through proper design, installation, maintenance, and inspection of play structures is, then, a significant responsibility for such organizations.
In response to the needs of parks and recreation agencies that maintain built play structures, the national Playground Maintenance Technician (PMT) Program, managed by the Eppley Institute at Indiana University, teaches the basics of playground maintenance to grounds/maintenance staff. After completing the program, participants should understand and be able to execute the four steps of the
Playground Maintenance Diamond of Care:
- identify safety hazards and needed repairs,
- conduct inspections,
- take corrective actions,
- and document these actions
The two-day PMT program builds the skills necessary to address safety concerns on playgrounds effectively, helping to increase playground safety and reduce liability for agencies. The overall goal of the PMT training is to improve playground safety by reducing the number and severity of injuries.
Regular playground inspection and maintenance is not required by most agencies across the country. According to the National Program for Playground Safety, lawmakers (often urged by the public) in only a few states have passed legislation or regulations related to playground safety. To date, 15 states have adopted guidelines on playground safety, but even among these states, the stringency and enforceability of guidelines varies greatly—that is, in some places, the guidelines are simply suggested rather than required.
Download the full report: Playground Maintenance Policy Brief.