Soft landings: encouraging compliance with safety standards in Local Government Authority playgrounds
by Shauna Sherker, Jan Ritchie, David Eager and Rebecca Dennis
Issues addressed: Consistent with health promotion principles of good practice, addressing playground injury necessitates the creation of a supportive environment for the enhancement of wellbeing and the prevention of injuries. This study aims to survey local governments to: determine compliance with playground safety standards; establish frequency of playground inspections and maintenance; and identify motivators and barriers to compliance with safety standards.
Methods: A survey of key informants for playground safety in all 152 local government councils in New South Wales (NSW) was undertaken.
Results: Of 152 local councils in NSW (43 metropolitan and 109 non-metropolitan), 71.7% (n=109) completed the survey, 12.5% (n=19) refused to participate and no response was received by 15.8% (n=24). Self-reported compliance with key aspects of the standard was generally high. However, only 55% of councils complied with surface impact attenuation <200 gmax and <1,000 HIC. Further, only 14.7% of councils reported impact testing the playground surface during inspections. The main motivators to compliance included: reducing risk of litigation or liability; enhancing community and child safety, and minimising the risk of injury. The main barriers included a lack of: time; personnel, and a lack of adequate and appropriate funding.
Conclusions: Local Government Authorities have a duty of care to ensure the safety of playgrounds in their jurisdiction. They require time, personnel and adequate and appropriate funding in order to achieve this aim.
Key words: playground falls, safety standards, compliance.
Health Promotion Journal of Australia 2009; 20:31-36