If you own or are in charge of playground equipment, you’re responsible for creating a safe environment for children to play. Properly maintained playground equipment minimizes the risk of injuries, extends the life of your equipment and keeps your school looking its best!
Thankfully, you will have an easier time maintaining your play equipment if you have a playground maintenance plan in action. All you have to do is follow your plan and give your equipment the attention it deserves throughout the year. Below you’ll find five tips for maintaining your commercial play structures.
1. Conduct Inspections
Inspections should be done on a regular basis. During inspections, check for excessive wear, exposed footings, deterioration and potential hazards that could leave a child injured. Plastic equipment should be checked for cracks and breakage, while metal equipment should be checked for rust, missing or loose hardware and other defects.
If you do not have a certified playground safety inspector (CPSI) on staff or your district is unable to regularly inspect your playground equipment, there are third party inspection companies that can be contracted to do so. Additionally, there are inspection software programs, like Playground Guardian’s Park Protector, that can make your inspection and maintenance process easier and more efficient while reducing risk and liability.
2. Assess the Safety Surfacing
Safety surfacing does not last forever. The rule of thumb for loose-fill playground mulch is 8-12 inches depending on the type of equipment. If the engineered wood fiber (EWF), more commonly known as playground mulch, is running low, be sure to add a new layer. Keeping areas underneath swings and slide exits raked will extend the life of your safety surfacing and keep it from being displaced.
Even poured-in-place rubber that people assume is maintenance free requires some attention. Every two to three years, these surfaces should be sealed with a top coat, and cracks patched and repaired immediately.
3. Check the Bearings
Play equipment that has moving parts deserves special attention because the bearings can get dirty or suffer wear and tear. When this happens, the equipment can’t move freely without noise. Checking the bearings doesn’t just keep the playground safe, but it also prevents you from having to make expensive repairs.
4. Make Repairs Quickly
Once you do spot an issue or damage, no matter how small, make sure you schedule a repair right away. Otherwise, the damage will continue to get worse and may eventually become unrepairable. Even worse is that a child can hurt themselves on the equipment. If the repair is too difficult to handle on your own, you’ll need to hire an expert or outside playground maintenance company.
5. Take Advantage of School Holidays
On holidays when the kids are out of school, use this time to provide your elementary school playground with upkeep. You can repaint fences, do a low-frequency inspection and top off playground mulch. Summer is also a good time to get this basic maintenance done so that everything is fresh and new for when the kids return.
These tips will help you maintain your school playground equipment so that it remains safe year-round. With regular inspections and timely repairs, you can extend the life of your equipment, which means more funds when you plan your next project!