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Adhering to the Playground Code Playing it Safe

When the weather is warm and the days are long, nothing says Summer like the sounds of neighborhood kids at play. There's safety to consider along with all the fun, however.

While all fifty states have statutes on the books spelling out the particulars of safe playground equipment construction and maintenance, the national Playground Code is the governing document that contains the universal guidelines by which any playground facility—public or private—must abide by.

There's one catch, however: code only presents guidelines and strong recommendations for safety—its checkpoints are not technically mandatory, though failure to comply could result in injury, lawsuits or worse. A playground or some good pieces of equipment is a terrific amenity, both for kids and their parents. Making sure that equipment is properly constructed and installed and learning to play safely and abide by the guidelines is essential for any co-op or condo board.

Decoding the Playground Code

According to Bill Boyce, president of Boyce Associates, a play equipment manufacturer in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, "There are two documents governing the playground industry. The first is the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Guidelines, which was set up in 1981 as a cooperative venture between the National Recreation and Parks Association and the CPSC. Its purpose was to try to establish guidelines for playground safety." Boyce says that collaboration was in response to numerous accidents on public play equipment.

The CPSC guidelines were updated again in 1990, Boyce continues, and subsequent to that the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), a sanctioning organization, created an industry standard—called 14-87—at the end of the following year. "That is an industry standard that all manufacturers must be in compliance with." Boyce says.

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