This article was originally published in NYSIR News – Winter 2011/2012
Plan Now to Ensure a Smooth Process in the Spring
To relocate a playground, (or build a new one), select a site with an adequately sized footprint for the items. The space required for different types of playground equipment is explained in the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Public Playground Safety Handbook Guidelines (www.cpsc.gov). These guidelines are referred by New York
State law. Check the new site for traffic, driveways, overhanging trees, retaining walls, drainage problems and security. Will lighting, cameras and fencing still be adequate to protect this new location and keep the users safe?
Have a Contingency Plan
A contingency plan is important because a playground move is an uncertain process. The equipment
being moved can become damaged beyond repair during the removal process, replacement parts may be difficult to find, or deterioration may be found once the process is underway. If problems occur, there could be an increased downtime for users or unplanned costs associated with the move.
Thoroughly Inspect All Equipment
Ensure that the current playground is in good condition before scheduling a move, and that it meets the US CPSC Public Playground Safety Handbook Guidelines and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standards for Playgrounds (www.astm.org). If the playground has any existing head entrapment hazards, extensive deterioration, or is reaching the end of its lifespan, it would be best to consider purchasing new equipment. Contact the playground manufacturer, because if replacement parts are not available for the unit or it will be difficult to repair, you will not want to go through the time and expense of moving it. Purchase in advance all new replacement hardware of like kind and quality, and replacements for any damaged or worn parts.
Consider what the best surfacing selection will be for the new location. Depth guidelines may have changed and new materials may have been developed since the original installation. Compliance with new guidelines is essential for a new installation.
Playgrounds are a major cause of accidents for children, and for this reason, it is not recommended that volunteers build or relocate playgrounds unless they are under the direct supervision of a playground manufacturer’s representative. Let the experts design the playground, select the location, install major elements (such as support posts), and evaluate the fall zones. If hiring a contractor, be sure it is one who works with playgrounds on a regular basis.
Require that the contractor provide certificates of insurance and references from prior installations before the job begins. The certificate of insurance must provide proof of general liability insurance, excess insurance and workers’ compensation. It should list the school as an additional insured.
Playgrounds and ADA Laws
Whether or not the current playground is accessible, once it is altered it will be required by law to be accessible, per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An accessible playground means that it is as easy as possible for everyone to play, regardless of his or her abilities or disabilities. See the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Play
Areas website for more information (http://www.access-board.gov/play/finalrule.htm).
During and After
Be sure there is a plan to close off the playground(s) and post signage that the area is off limits during relocation and construction.
Once the playground is relocated it must be re-evaluated to verify that it is installed properly and meets all requirements. All playgrounds must be set at the proper height, with adequate clear space around the equipment and proper depth of resilient surfacing provided. Consult with your insurance company’s NYSIR’s risk management department, or hire a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) to conduct a compliance audit before re-opening the playground to the public. File all documentation, at the completion of the playground, including all documented inspections and a letter stating that the playground surfacing and equipment was installed to the contract and manufacturer’s specifications. This process will reduce future liability exposures if the design, installation or construction is an issue with a future incident or injury. Post an illustrative playground rules sign at the entrance to the playground. The proper age group for the playground should be listed to designate if the playground is designated for children who are 2-5 or 5-12 years of age. Translate all signage to other languages if appropriate for your community.