JA2015 Playground equipment inspections

Children are the most precious gift and parents’ number 1 concern is their health and safety. There is no suprise therefore that products used by children feature prominently in PROSAFE Joint Actions. Joint Action 2015 includes a review of 3 groups of products used by children: child care articles, toys and playground equipment.

This project follows a similar one, Playground Equipment 1, which took place under the Joint Action "Safe play on the Playground!". Most of PROSAFE Joint Actions involve reviewing the safety of new consumer products. This project is different since Member States will assess the safety of playground equipment that is already in use. The reason is that this type of equipment degrades through use and exposure to the elements. Although each swing, roundabout or see-saw may have started life by conforming to the relevant safety standard, EN 1176 - playground equipment, it may have been poorly maintained or become unsafe since it was installed.

This project focuses on reviewing the safety of equipment in both indoor and outdoor playgrounds in 8 Member States, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Slovenia and Slovakia. Rain, frost and snow take a heavy toll on equipment in outdoor play areas. Regular maintenance is, therefore, a key element in ensuring that each item of equipment is safe to use.

The project started in April 2016 and has already had 2 meetings and will be undertaking its first market surveillance exercise on indoor playgrounds during January/February 2017. Each participating Member State will check the safety of equipment in at least 10 playgrounds. The results will be reported at the third Project Group meeting, set to take place in March 2017. After the first inspections, the Member States will undertake 3 further market surveillance exercises, this time on outdoor playgrounds.

To ensure consistency of approach when assessing safety of each item of equipment the Group has prepared a special manual based on EN 1176 to guide members when undertaking their inspections.

The photos show members of the Project Group assessing the safety of a number of items of playground equipment in a park in Brussels, close to the Belgian Parliament building. The various probes being used are those specified in the playground equipment standard.

The project is due to be completed in the summer 2018, after which a report will be published on the key findings from the inspection programme.