Playgrounds provide important opportunities for children’s physical and cognitive development, encourage social and interactive play, and contribute to reducing the risk of obesity and other health conditions related to physical inactivity. While playgrounds provide safer environments for children when compared to other outdoor areas, they are still associated with a risk of injury.
Kidsafe WA has recently released the Childhood Injury Report: Playground Injuries 2015-2020. This report shows an average of 1,046 children presenting to the Perth Children’s Hospital Emergency Department for a playground related injury each year. With playground related injury accounting for just 5.7 percent of all injury presentations seen at PCH during the same time, this is a relatively low contributor to the overall child injury burden.
Children aged between five and nine years are at a greater risk of playground injury. Other risk factors can include lack of supervision, misuse of equipment, the use of equipment not suitable for a child’s age, poor playground design, overcrowding of equipment and a lack of regular playground maintenance. To reduce the risk of serious injury, playgrounds should be designed, installed and maintained to meet the minimum requirements outlined in Australian Standards. This includes the following recommendations:
- The maximum free height of fall for equipment should not exceed 1800mm in early childhood settings and 3000mm in all other settings.
- All equipment over 600mm in height, and equipment that creates forced movement (e.g. swings) should be surrounded by certified soft fall surfacing.
- Handrails, guardrails and barriers should be provided on certain equipment to reduce the risk of fall injuries.
- Equipment should not present any entrapment hazards that could trap a user by the body, part of the body, hair or clothing.
- Playgrounds should be regularly inspected and maintained, including visual, operational and annual comprehensive inspections.
While some playground injuries can be associated with behavioural risk factors, many playground injuries can be prevented or their severity reduced by good planning, design and maintenance. Considering the benefits of outdoor play and the opportunities that are provided for children’s development, it is essential that children have access to safe playgrounds and steps are taken to reduce injury risk factors where possible.
To view the full report visit: https://www.kidsafewa.com.au/professionals/wa-childhood-injury-bulletins-reports/
For further information: Kidsafe WA’s Playground Advisory Service provides a range of services to help create and maintain play spaces that support children’s development, learning, health, and wellbeing while reducing the risk of serious injury. Kidsafe WA provides advice, consultation, comprehensive audit services and professional development workshops and is not affiliated with any playground equipment manufacturer, retailer, or ancillary business.
Phone: (08) 6244 4880