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Trust but double check

19 Mar 20214 min readBlog

People who have become parents know very well how our attitudes to danger change over time. As children, we were all pretty crazy. We climbed where we shouldn’t have climbed, picked up what could have been left untouched, and secretly tried to do everything our parents would have forbidden. But now, in the role of a parent, we keep a keen eye out for well-fastened seatbelts, crossing roads in right places, for not climbing trees that are too high or not stepping on ice that is too thin. But if the child is in a place that is actually meant for children, be it a kindergarten, a school or a playground in the courtyard, we don’t worry at all. And why should we?

However, sometimes things happen even in places where everything should be safe and in order. On playgrounds. When it comes to attractions meant for children, we assume – as if by default – that they are safe and that nothing bad can happen. But what is this assumption really based on? On trust? On first visual impression? Where do we get the confidence that nothing can happen? True, you can have an unlucky fall or a slip even on the safest of attractions. That being said, it is paramount to ensure that every playground is safe and that nothing can happen to any child because of the characteristics or the condition of the product. How to ensure that?

This is how things work from the playground manufacturer’s point of view. When the attractions are installed, we provide the customer with instructions for use and maintenance, and teach them how to perform regular visual inspections. In kindergartens, for example, this could be done every day before children are allowed to play outside. The manual states whether the products have been tested, certified and are in compliance with the applicable safety standards. Absolutely every playground needs regular inspection and maintenance, and the inspection frequency depends on the playground’s frequency of use. A slightly more thorough serviceability check is carried out in every 1-3 months, and the main inspection must be carried out once a year, highlighting every last defect, fault, sign of wear, etc. If any inspection reveals that an attraction is not safe, its use must be ruled out immediately!

In theory, all this may seem very complicated. In reality, such regular inspections ensure that even the slightest fault is detected immediately and that accidents do not happen. By the way, the attractions under warranty also need regular scheduled maintenance. That should not be forgotten, otherwise your warranty will expire. To keep the story from becoming too scary, let’s sum it up into a recommendation: public playgrounds should be inspected and maintained depending on their frequency of use. For example, the recommended maintenance requirement for kindergartens and schools is once per quarter. The recommended maintenance requirement for playgrounds installed in public parks is once or twice per month (one of the inspections needs to be the annual main inspection).

Let’s now come back to being a parent. You are walking with your child and you reach a playground. You let your little one go and climb, scramble and have fun on the slides. Before doing so, however, take a critical look for any broken, rickety, sharp, or otherwise suspicious details. If you notice anything like this, inform the owner or the manager of the playground, whether it is the kindergarten, the district government, the municipality or an apartment association. Do not allow your child on the playground before you are sure it is safe. If you are responsible for the maintenance of a playground yourself but do not know if and when the attractions were last inspected, and whether the products are certified, get in touch with us.

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