Why Are Playgrounds So Important?
In addition to improving the social and physical aspects of a child’s life, playgrounds also give children a sense of independence. They allow them to recognise their abilities and interests, and can increase creativity and a child’s willingness or ability to learn.
Playground Regulations in Ireland
Below is a brief summary of the playground regulations currently in place in Ireland.
Further, detailed information can be found by reading the remainder of this blog post.
- Equipment and surfacing must comply with ISEN standards.
- A post installation inspection and risk assessment must be carried out on all new playgrounds.
- Weekly inspections must be carried out by trained staff and records maintained.
- Equipment must be regularly maintained and replaced as required.
- Annual independent inspections carried out as recommended in I.S. EN1176.
- A protocol must be in place to deal immediately with playgrounds accidents.
Playground Space Regulations
The Parks Policy for Local Authorities (1987) states that playgrounds should be provided in a variety of areas; ranging from regional parks to residential and neighbourhood parks.
In urban areas, this local authority outlay the following criteria:
- There must be a local park (minimum of 2 hectares open space) per 1,000 population.
- There must be a neighbourhood part (minimum of 16 hectares) and 2 local parts per 10,000 population.
The neighbourhood park should be capable of including up to 6 football pitches, 10 tennis courts, 2 netball or basketball courts, 2 golf putting greens, 1 children’s playground, 1 athletic facility and 1 car park.
Additionally, the guidelines for Social Housing (Department of Environment and Local Government, 1999) state that playgrounds intended for small children should be provided within one minutes’ walking distance from their front door and should be overlooked from their properties.
Playground Safety – Equipment & Inspection
Safety standards applicable to public playgrounds were introduced in Ireland in 1998 by the National Standards Authority of Ireland. These regulations apply to all aspects of playground construction including equipment, inspection, installation and maintenance. They also outline that children under the age of 3 must be supervised by an adult when using playgrounds.
In relation to playground inspection, the Irish Public Bodies Mutual Insurance have set out documentation standards for the keeping of maintenance, inspection repair and testing records. Playground manufacturers are advised to provide instructions for the maintenance and frequency of inspection.
Children’s playgrounds should be inspected at least annually by an independent specialist to ensure safety of the playground equipment and the end user. This inspections will allow organisations to comply with their legal and insurance duties as well as complying with the regulations set out by the new European Playground Standards EN1176.
3 Forms of Inspection Routine
- Routine: Every day
In order to carry out these inspections, the playground management services company must be registered and authorised by RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) which is Europe’s largest and oldest safety organisation. Councils and site workers have a legal duty of care to provide a safe play area for children. They must have their site inspected by an independent safety inspector and use trained maintenance staff.
Browne Brothers provide a RoSPA inspection, which is carried out following the installation of playgrounds and equipment.
In addition the ensuring the safety of equipment, playground developers must also choose the correct surfaces depending on the type of area, playground style and the intended user. Equipment and surfacing used, must be in compliance with the ISEN standards.
Types of Surfaces
- Wet pour rubber
- Soft mulch
- Bark mulch
- Rubber safety tiles
We would like to hear your comments
If you have any comments on this blog, please use the comment form provided below. Also remember to share this blog post with your friends and colleagues through the various social media channels.