Playground safety awareness: five measures & five tips

HONG KONG, Aug. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Changhua County government takes child safety seriously. To improve playground safety, the county government has launched the "Hi Five for Playground Safety: Having Fun and Staying Safe" campaign. The five measures (safe equipment, thorough inspection, careful play, happy children, parents' peace of mind) and five tips (reading of instructions, watching out for dangerous gaps, usage of protective ground matting, avoidance of clothing with tie-strings, constant parental supervision) serve to highlight Changhua County's determination to conduct thorough safety inspection of all playground equipment. TUV Rheinland Taiwan is assisting Changhua County with the inspection of more than 500 children's playgrounds, including at parks, restaurants, medical facilities, kindergartens, elementary schools, tourism factories, and leisure farms. The inspections should be completed by March next year, ensuring that safety never takes a holiday.

Playground safety awareness: five measures & five tips
Playground safety awareness: five measures & five tips

Changhua City's Huayang Park is a popular place for parents to spend joyful hours with their children. It contains a variety of playground equipment, including special slides, a jungle gym, swings, and large climbing nets for physical training. These fun free-usefacilities make it a perfect destinationfor family outings. TUV Rheinland playground equipment inspection expert Bryan Lee recently used the park to demonstrate several common types of playground accidents -- climbing without sufficient padding for falls, parts of the body becoming trapped in gaps, clothing wrapping around the neck, or injury from by sharp angles/points. These are among the key potential dangers to watch out for in a children's playground.

In January 2017, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced the CNS 12642 and CNS 12643 standards governing play equipment used in children's playgrounds. These include safety rules on playground paving, play equipment, safety signs, and surrounding environment. Apart from compliance with standards in design, proper maintenance of playgrounds is another important point. For example, some sites don't use neutral cleaning agents. Instead, high-strength industrial cleaning agents are used to more effectively remove grime. These can make plastic more brittle, and create a risk factor; some protective mats become dented, meaning that their protective capacity is reduced or even eliminated. Special care should be taken, and corrective action taken. Loose or protruding screws must be re-screwed and secured in place as well. Many years of experience with playground equipment inspections led to Lee's statement that "Reinforcement doesn't equal safety. Improper reinforcement and maintenance can in fact lead to secondary injuries. Proper maintenance is more than just making sure the equipment looks to be in one piece. It must ensure the safety of users."

Parents must be made aware of playground safety in advance, or they may regret it later. For careful parents, Lee offers the following tips on selecting a safe and reliable playground environment. These include: avoid using old and worn play equipment that makes strange sounds during use, make sure that the protective sand on the ground is spread even, check the ground mats for signs of age, wear, warping, or lichen, avoid clothing with tie-strings for children, and check the playground to see if it has passed regular inspections. These all help to ensure children's safety while at play. In addition, paying attention to the age-appropriate signage on play equipment and reading the playground rules will help a great deal in reducing accidents. 

The best way to prevent playground accidents is to raise safety awareness. Using the five measures and five tips, safety awareness can be established from initial designers to operation managers, to parents and caregivers, and to children themselves, ensuring that children grow up safe.

TUV Rheinland Taiwan Ltd.
Sally Chang

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