Sunday, October 1, 2017

According to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Public Playground Safety Handbook, there are 200,000 injuries on playgrounds annually in the United States that results in children needing emergency room treatment. The majority of those injuries are the result of falls from equipment. The CPSC Handbook provides guidelines for impact absorbing materials, fall zones and equipment. The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) recommends that programs follow the CPSC Handbook as a way to reduce the number of these injuries. EEC has developed this policy based on the recommendations of the CPSC and the requirements of 606 CMR Standards for Licensure so that children in care will be provided an outdoor environment that is safe, age appropriate, challenging and promotes healthy growth and development. The regulations that impact outdoor space, surfacing, fall zones, equipment, entrapments, hazards and supervision are:
 6.06 CMR 7.07(7)
Outdoor Space The licensee must maintain, or have access to, an outdoor play area of at least 75 square feet per child who is outside at any one time.
(a) The play area must be accessible to children with disabilities.
(b) The outdoor play space must be appropriate for each age group served.
(c) The outdoor play area must provide for both direct sunlight and shade.
(d) The outdoor play area must be free from hazards including but not limited to: a busy street, a parking lot, poisonous plants, water hazards, debris, broken glass, chipping, peeling or flaking paint, dangerous machinery or tools, and weather related and environmental hazards or small objects that could present a choking hazard to young children. Any such hazard must be removed or fenced by a sturdy, permanently installed barrier which is at least four feet high or otherwise protected or removed, as appropriate.
(e) If the outdoor play space is located on a roof, it must be protected by a barrier at least seven feet high, which cannot be climbed by children.
(f) The outdoor play space must not be covered with a dangerously harsh, abrasive, or toxic material. (h) Suitable barriers, including but not limited to bulkhead doors, must be installed to prevent falls into outdoor stair or window wells.
"I pay your salary"  responding to difficult situations with residents, patrons and customers.

From time to time, we all have to deal with people and situations that we find challenging; public service employees certainly face their fair share. While getting the job done efficiently and safely, the public service employee is expected to retain a positive public image for their department and municipality. When confronted with a resident’s disappointment, anger or entitlement, what one wants to say and what one should say are often two very different things. Participants in this seminar learn specific techniques for defusing and resolving difficult situations with residents

the above should be required training for LOTs.
Do not grandfather; make them safe!

Safe playgrounds can help to reduce municipal liability

Playgrounds provide opportunities for children to explore their environment, develop motor and social skills, and gain confidence. Yet some present hazards that could be avoided with proper design, maintenance, and supervision.

Each year nearly 200,000 children are injured in playground accidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Seventy percent of these accidents occur in public parks and schoolyards; roughly 45 percent of the injuries are considered severe, and several are fatal.

Federal law does not mandate playground safety standards, but safe and well-maintained playgrounds can help to reduce exposure to lawsuits.

MIIA, in partnership with the Massachusetts Recreation and Park Association, offers members the most comprehensive program for playground hazard identification and risk management training programs: the National Playground Safety Inspector Course.

After completing 12 hours of training and an exam, participants become certified playground safety inspectors, ensuring that they meet guidelines set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Society for Testing and Materials. (Together, these guidelines are the internationally recognized standard of care for playground safety.)

In addition to mitigating the risk of accidents and lawsuits, MIIA member municipalities that complete the training receive MIIA Rewards credit on their property and casualty insurance premiums.

Another resource, the CPSC Public Playground Safety Handbook, is available at The handbook lists voluntary safety guidelines as well as suggested maintenance checklists and equipment testing procedures for playground safety audits.

Although the state’s recreational-use statutes provide a strong defense for municipalities, it is important to accurately document playground inspection and maintenance in order to protect against any potential charges of negligence. Records of any accident or injury reported on any playground should also be retained. This will help to identify potential playground hazards or dangerous design features that need to be corrected.

Key factors in evaluating playground safety include the following:

• Surfaces. Roughly 60 percent of playground injuries are caused by falls, so it is especially important to have surfacing that is designed to absorb impact. Hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt are unacceptable, as are grass and packed-earth because weather and wear can pack them and reduce their ability to absorb impact.

Acceptable surfaces include loose-fill materials like wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel or shredded rubber. Safety-tested rubber surfacing mats or rubber-like materials, such as poured-in-place unitary surfacing systems, are also safe. These surfaces, along with engineered wood fiber – the only loose-fill material that meets Americans with Disabilities Act standards – allow the best access for people in wheelchairs. Loose-fill materials should be a minimum of nine inches deep and extend across the entire use zone of the equipment.

• Design and Spacing. Playground equipment should be designed for three age groups: infants and toddlers; 2- to 5-year-olds; and 5- to 12-year-olds. In the safest playgrounds, play areas for younger children are clearly separated from those meant for older kids. Children should be able to move safely from one activity to another, with proper spacing between equipment.

Play structures should be spaced in accordance with their use zones. Use zones typically extend six feet from the equipment, but slides and moving equipment such as swings require more space.

Stationary equipment, less than 30 inches in height, may be located within six feet of each other. Stationary equipment greater than 30 inches may be located within nine feet of each other.

Among the many other areas to check are spaces that could trap children. Openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs should measure less than three and one-half inches or more than nine inches apart. These dimensions will ensure that fully bound openings will pass the head-torso probe test.

• Maintenance and Inspection. Playground equipment should be regularly inspected to make sure that it is clean and well maintained. Playground inspectors should check for equipment that is securely anchored and made of quality, durable materials that won’t break down as a result of weather.

Equipment should show no signs of weakening, or splintered, rusted, chipped or peeling surfaces. Hardware such as S-hooks and bolts, hinges and other moving parts should be checked for sharp edges, pinch points or areas for entanglement.

Sandboxes should be covered overnight to prevent contamination from cats and other animals. Sight lines from benches should be unobstructed, and fencing should be secured to prevent children from leaving the area.

Playgrounds should be free of trash, standing water and objects that could cause kids to trip, such as rocks, tree stumps and roots.

• Supervision. Although the design and condition of equipment are important, the most critical safety element is supervision. When a public entity is responsible for supervising children, liability becomes a significant consideration. The responsibility of recreation department and school employees to supervise activities is where the true liability exists. Playground supervisors should be trained before being given this enormous responsibility. This is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of playground safety.

Information about the next National Playground Safety Inspector Course can be found at Additional information is available at the website of the Massachusetts Recreation and Parks Association (
Playgrounds anyone?

Section 14: Playgrounds; acquisition; use; management

Section 14. Any city or town may acquire land and buildings within its limits by gift or purchase, or by eminent domain under chapter seventy-nine, or may lease the same, or may use suitable land or buildings already owned by it, for the purposes of a public playground or recreation centre, and may conduct and promote recreation, play, sport and physical education, for which admission may be charged, on such land and in such buildings, and may construct buildings on land owned or leased by it and may provide equipment for said purposes. Land and buildings so acquired, leased or constructed may be used also for town meetings, and, with the consent of, and subject to the conditions and terms prescribed by, the officer or board in control of the land or building, may be used by the municipality, or by any department thereof, or by any person, society or other organization for such other public, recreational, social or educational purposes as the said officer or board may deem proper. The foregoing provisions shall apply to land and buildings acquired for playground purposes, or for park and playground purposes, but shall not apply to land and buildings acquired solely for park purposes. For the purposes aforesaid, any city or town may appropriate money, and may employ teachers, supervisors and other officers, and may fix their compensation. Except in Boston and except as to the making of appropriations, the powers conferred by this section shall be exercised by the board of park commissioners, or by the school committee, or by the planning board, or by a playground or recreation commission appointed by the mayor in a city or by the selectmen or town moderator in a town, or elected by the voters of the town at a town meeting; or may be distributed among the board of park commissioners, the school committee, the planning board and such playground or recreation commission, or among any two or more of them; or they may be exercised by a committee consisting of one member each designated by all or any one of said boards or commissions, together with two or more members at large appointed by the mayor or selectmen or town moderator, or elected by the voters, accordingly as the city council or the town may decide. Any municipal officer or board authorized to exercise any of the powers conferred by this section may, within or without the city or town limits, conduct its activities on property under its control, on other public property under the control of other public officers or boards, with the consent of such officers or boards, or on private property, with the consent of the owners. Two or more towns may severally vote to establish co-operative arrangements between those towns for the provision and operation of recreational facilities and programs of mutual benefit to their citizens. The management and control of such facilities and programs and the apportionment of the expenses for their maintenance and support shall be provided for by the authorized recreation agencies of the participating towns. The provisions of section fifteen or sixteen shall not be construed to apply to any city or town because of any action taken under this section.