Playground Equipment Injuries: "A Lot of Fun, But Too Often Dangerous"

Jacob, a 10-year-old, fell from the crossbars of a fast food restaurant playground and suffered a serious brain injury when his head struck the floor tile. Jacob will require lifetime care. It was established that several serious injuries had previously occurred at that location, and that the "monkey bars" had an unsafe design.

A two-year-old was playing outside at her childcare center when she stuck her head through a hole in the playground equipment, slipped and was strangled.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that over 200,000 serious injuries occur each year to children on playgrounds. Many of these injuries are the result of unsafe equipment. The U.S.C.P.S.C. provides guidelines on how equipment can be safer, including making sure surfaces around playground equipment have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch or other soft materials to prevent hard falls. Play structures more than 30 inches high should be spaced at least 12 feet apart. Dangerous hardware like "S" hooks on protruding bolt ends should be eliminated. There should be no sharp points or edges in equipment. Tripping hazards, ramps or platforms without guard rails also present a high risk.

There is a high burden on the designers or owners of playgrounds or areas where playground equipment is provided to make sure that the risk of injuries is minimized. Too often, instead of being a welcoming location for fun and safety, playgrounds present dangerous risks to the children who make use of them. Violations of safety codes or standard guidelines for safety, including those promulgated by federal and state agencies, can impose liability on those persons who fail to make sure that the playground equipment is safe.


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