Don’t play-play with safety

Don’t play-play with safety
Playpoint managing director Jason Sim at the vertical playground. Its design conforms with safety standards.

In February last year, the team at Playpoint was proud of an accomplishment: It had built at Block 158, Bishan Street 13, the first vertical playground in Asia.

Some residents in the area were concerned that the structure was too high and that children could fall and hurt themselves.

However the company, which designs and builds playgrounds in public spaces such as parks and housing estates, had an easy way to allay their concerns.

The playground had been built to conform to local Safety Standard 457. This means that it had been assessed by independent safety inspectors for elements such as protruding parts and gaps, which might cause children to fall through or get limbs stuck or their clothes entangled.

Mr Jason Sim, 38, Playpoint's managing director, says it had been complying with safety standards in Europe and the United States even before the Singapore standard was introduced in 2007.

He says: "With these standards in place, we can explain that the playground has been designed and built based on safety standards, and assure those concerned that a safety audit has been conducted by a third party, so there is an objective evaluation."

He adds that a client will tend to query if a playground is safe, especially when the design is customised.

The Battleship Playground at Sembawang Park, designed to reflect the area's history as a British naval base, is one example.

"The client, NParks, said that it wasn't safe because the barriers were too low and children could topple over. So we referred them to the standard, which was for such barriers to be at least 0.9m high for safety compliance.

"The barriers in question were actually 1m high, so there was even an extra allowance. Having complied with the standards allowed us to resolve the matter easily and prevented it from becoming a matter of opinion."

Safety Standard SS 457: 2007 Specification for playground equipment for public use

What it is: The local guideline for safety measures for playground design, installation and maintenance.

This article was first published on August 6, 2014.
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