Playground injuries by the numbers…
- Each year 20,000 to 30,000 children in Canada are treated in hospital emergency departments for playground injuries.
- About 70% of playground injuries occur at public parks and schools.
- The majority of playground injuries (75-80%) are due to falls.
- The most common playground injuries that require hospitalization are broken arms (81%) and head injuries (14%).
- About 67% of falls involve falling off a playground structure to the ground. Most falls at school and public parks involve monkey bars, and most falls that occur at home involve swings.
The height that a child falls from and the surface they land on determines whether or not the child will get injured. Children are much more likely to get injured when they:
- Fall from a height of greater than 1.5 metres (5 feet)
- Fall from monkey bars
- Land on concrete, asphalt or grass
The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) publishes a voluntary standard for outdoor public play spaces (CAN/CSA Z614 “Children’s Playspaces and Equipment”) to decrease the risk of children getting injured at playgrounds. The standard specifies design, installation, inspection and maintenance requirements for public playgrounds. The CSA standard provides recommendations about:
- Hand rails on stairs, ramps and stepladders
- Guard rails and protective barriers on elevated platforms, walkways, ramps, and stairways
- Surface material, such as sand, pea gravel, wood/bark mulch, rubber or synthetics, and its maintenance
- Equipment design, such as fall protection from slides
- Labelling play equipment to state the age that it was designed for (2-5, 2-12, or 5-12 years)
- General drainage and layout of the play area
- Criteria for maintenance and routine inspections to identify hazards
In addition to playground equipment design and maintenance, parent and child behaviours can also affect injury risk. To keep children safer, parents should:
- Actively supervise young children by keeping them within arms reach at all times
- Select the right equipment for their child’s age, size and ability
- Teach children playground safety rules