Those who are designers or manufacturers of various playground equipment meant for young children must be aware of a standard that they must follow. There are a few documents available about such standards that can be used as references by those who are commercially involved in manufacturing such playground equipment.
As far as a playground is concerned, it is generally defined as a certain landscape that will be designed for the playing of children where different playground equipment will be installed. The standards related to playgrounds will not include fitness equipment unless such type of equipment is also integrated within the playground.
Any Australian playground manufacturer can refer to a certain different standard when they are designing any outdoor play or fitness equipment. That separate standard is 16630:2020. This standard will not consider any equipment related to certain domestic playgrounds.
Natural elements included in the playground
These elements can be quite diverse as well as quite open-ended too. There is a certain scope where children are able to manipulate to have their own fun.
Such a natural environment can offer children to build their imagination, creativity, and also problem-solving skills. If children are allowed to access nature then it can improve their psychological well-being too.
In contrast to any manufactured products, it is not necessary that natural elements will always be predictable. Therefore, it is essential that children must be provided an opportunity to develop their own risk management skills while negotiating with any natural environment.
Various requirements for standards must consider the natural play elements and that should also be incorporated within the playground. Risk management must take into consideration of basic injury prevention principles, which are included in AS 4685 standard series.
Certain elements of a playground may occasionally fail to meet one or more of the playground Standards’ requirements. A risk assessment should be completed to evaluate if the deviation is acceptable or whether remedial action should be taken in the case of older equipment that does not meet current Standards or newer equipment that deviates from the Standards in some way.
A typical risk assessment entails identifying, evaluating, and estimating the degrees of risk involved in each event as well as the possibility of it occurring, comparing the results to benchmarks or standards, and determining an acceptable level of risk.
The value or benefit of the activity is factored into the risk-benefit equation when using a risk-benefit analysis. A risk-benefit analysis openly considers both the rewards and dangers of playing in a single decision. AS 4685.0 covers risk-benefit analyses, which have been demonstrated to be a useful technique in evaluating an acceptable level of risk.
Equipment not meeting present standards
While assessing any old equipment that is not complying with the entire requirements of present standards, the following steps must be taken:
- Examine areas of non-compliance against the appropriate Standard at the time the playground was built, as well as contemporary requirements that may have safety consequences.
- Determine the risk level of non-compliant items.
- Decide whether any need for replacing or upgrading is needed based on the assessment of risk/benefit or whether the equipment will be acceptable.
- If replacement is needed then decide a time frame as per the risk level.