Playground Safety Guidelines
I can not over emphasize the growing awareness and attention for public playspace safety. This would include areas provided by the various levels of government, school boards, Provincial park agencies, conservation authorities, public funded housing and daycare facilities.
Since their initial publication in 1990, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) document Z-614 - A Guideline for Children's Playspaces and Equipment has gained identity as the 'governing bible' for the designers, manufacturers and Provinces. In addition, those in the legal profession have quickly recognized the importance of this document when involved in relevant torts. The importance of awareness and implementation has not been achieved without some significant hurdles. A prime example is the misconstrued interpretation of the reference to "voluntary." Initially, some manufacturers promoted this reference to weaken the intent in hopes of clinching their sale(s). In fact, the preface of the publication clearly states that anyone claiming to meet the guidelines must be prepared to verify so where and as requested according to the requirements specified.
The CSA is to be applauded for their commitment to keeping the document current. Recently, the technical committee was recalled to consider the need for a review to update and improve the 1990 efforts. The overwhelming majority present agreed that this should be the direction. Further, the committee immediately approved the following:
* To change all reference of " Guideline" to "Standard;"
* To establish separate sub committees to address:
"Harmonization" which will endeavor to bring together a common document between us in Canada and the American Testing and materials Society (ASTM) thus attempting to create a North American standard, with the ultimate goal being the creation of an International standard.
"Surfacing" which will clarify and improve on this key safety component
"Accessibility" which will serve as a proactive element to promoting integrated social, emotional, physical, and intellectual opportunities for children of all abilities.
From the role of provider we must keep ensure that we keep abreast of this important issue. Further, that we participate and involve relevant associated staff in the training and development opportunities to unsure safe and rewarding play experiences for our play users.
Vic Hergott is a recognized parks and recreation practitioner, with 18 years of progressive experience in the field. A graduate of the University of Guelf, Ontario, Diploma of Horticulture in Parks Management, Vic has served on the executive and boards of a number of professional associations including the Park and Recreation Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Parks Association where he served as president in 1989/90.
In 1986 he joined the Canadian Standards Association as an executive member of the technical committee responsible for producing Canada's first national standard aimed at improving children's playspaces and equipment. Four and one half years latter, A Guideline On Children's Playspaces and Equipment was published and released by the C.S.A. Vic then proceeded to author and deliver a workshop entitled It's Time To Stop Playing Around. To date this popular workshop has been presented at a number of functions across Ontario, in the Maritimes and in Western Canada. Vic is also regularly called upon to present sessions at a variety of seminars and workshops, to contribute articles to association and trade publications and to offer advice or opinion to peers, consultants and those in the legal profession.
In 1993, Vic was awarded the Award of Merit from both the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association and the Ontario Parks Association for meritorious achievement and in recognition and appreciation of his significant contributions and continued commitment to the profession.
Written by Vic Hergott
Parks, Recreation & Leisure Facilities Risk Management Auditor
P.O. Box 28013
Brantford ON, N3R 7X5