Playground Design

Playground Safety Inspection Checklist

Your Playground Safety Inspection Checklist should be used regularly in order to maintain your playground in a safe condition. There is no such thing as the one checklist that will suit every playground. Questions will vary according to the number and types of playgrounds you have, whether the playground is in a park, school or early childhood centre. Ask your equipment manufacturer to supply inspection information for you to maintain your particular equipment and include it in your checklist.

Decide how often your inspections should be done. The amount of detail in your checklist will vary according to how often the playground is used

Daily/Weekly - is required to identify obvious hazards (eg. damage due to vandals or weather conditions) 

Monthly/Quarterly - is used to check equipment stability and wear in moving parts

Yearly - a qualified person should do an annual comprehensive inspection

Repairs should be prioritised according to the extent of potential exposure to injury and the location of equipment.

Planning your Playground 

Any play area available to the public, schools or child care centres should be well designed. A well-planned play area is the best way to minimise injury risk in playgrounds. A well-planned play environment should take in to consideration children’s social, emotional and intellectual stages of development, as well as their physical capabilities and needs. 

Seek professional design assistance with someone who is familiar with designing play environments for children.

Include all interested parties in preplanning to ensure that unnecessary hazards and expensive works to remedy hazards are avoided before construction. Any planning should involve the users themselves so don't forget to ask the children! Budget for the purchase of good quality equipment as well as ongoing maintenance costs.

Good planning also means that there is a system in place that can deal with problems as they arise. A system that reports on incidents and maintenance procedures needs to be established to ensure that the playground and surfacing is maintained to meet a level of safety that is affordable. Ensure that your playground safety management system complies with the current standards.

Design and Layout 

When planning a playground, before allocating a site area for the play space consider the following design and layout points to assist in creating optimal safety features:

  • Site playgrounds so that children can reach and use them safely and easily 
  • Shade provision – mature trees or a shade covering eg. shade sails or shade cloth
  • Allow for ease of supervision 
  • Areas which include water (ponds, lakes, rivers) are fenced and easily supervised 
  • No environmental hazards affecting the site (such as fast-flowing rivers, heavy traffic)
  • Future numbers of children using equipment 
  • Anticipate the flow of play 
  • Areas appropriately designed for specific age groups 
  • Areas which cater for underdeveloped motor skills and restricted or impaired abilities 
  • Access for prams, bikes, children with disabilities and car parking, maintenance and emergency services 
  • Utilise existing natural landforms - eg shade trees, gullies, slopes 
  • Good visibility to ensure children's social safety and reduce vandalism
  • All aspects of the site and layout comply with relevant Australian Standards 
  • Identify drainage or contaminant problems (including poisonous plants) which may require work to remedy 
  • Costs associated with any work involved to develop the site (underground services, clearing, drainage, shade provision etc)