Prior to Use Inspections
A Prior to Use Inspection is an inspection that is completed right after the playground is installed but before it is opened to the public. Often people are surprised to hear that a brand new playground may not actually be compliant with the current standards but this is more often the case than not.
The reason new playgrounds are not fully compliant is generally due to installation or assembly problems. This can leave a new playground having serious hazards on it. Common problems include improper layout of the equipment resulting in inadequate space between playground components, equipment installed too close to the surfacing borders, railings improperly installed causing head entrapments, swing hanger bolts installed upside down, inadequate depth of protective surfacing, loose or missing bolts, decks installed too high without railings, slides installed higher than designed due to site grades, and a variety of other issues.
Once we have carefully checked a new playground and if there are no problems we will issue a letter of compliance which indicates that the playground was installed to the CSA Z614 Standard. The owner can then confidently put the playground into service. If problems are found a letter of non-compliance will be issued with a list of deficiencies requiring correcting is provided. After the issues are addressed a follow up inspection can be completed to ensure the deficiencies are corrected. We then can issue a letter of compliance. This letter of compliance is required by many municipalities and school boards prior to use of the playground whether it was community installed or commercially installed.
Not only are monthly inspections required to be compliant with the CSA Z614 Standard but it can increase the amount of time in which a playground remains useable. Something as simple as a lose bolt could result in a large component like a rail falling or being broken. Rather than just needing to tighten or replace the bolt now the whole component would need replacement resulting in higher cost and possibly an injury and liability. Monthly inspections can reduce or even eliminate these potential costs, hazards and issues.
Protective Surface Testing
Also known as Surface Impact Testing (SIT), this refers to testing the surfacing under a playground in which a child may fall upon when playing on the playground. Studies show that 70 percent of playground injuries are caused by falls to the playground surface. CPI is one of the only firms to offer Surface Impact Testing using the state of the art Triax 2000, which is an apparatus that uses mechanical and electronic systems to simulate the effects of a child falling from a playground. It measures how much injury a child would sustain from impacting the surface under a playground. With so many factors affecting the performance of a surface, the Triax 2000 can provide you peace of mind knowing that your children are safe playing on the equipment.
An annual audit is just as important as the prior to use inspection, but will give you a comprehensive understanding of what the playground consists of and what is needed to maintain it for the full extent of the playground. An annual audit is a three stage process which contains, a comprehensive inspection using the CSA Z614 Standard, an inventory of play components with a life expectancy report and a maintenance plan recommendation. To be compliant with the CSA 614 Standard this inspection should be completed once a year.
Playgrounds are used a lot and as a request they require maintenance. Swing seat get cut, moving components wear out, bearings need grease, bearings rust and if left unmonitored these items can result in a serious injury. To reduce the chance of serious injury it is recommended to perform bi-annual maintenance on a structure in addition to proper monitoring.
We can provide either regular scheduled or emergency maintenance. For regular scheduled maintenance we can create a maintenance plan which to prioritize problems which allows the owner to plan and manage maintenance costs and build future years budget. Knowing the state of your playground inventory can prevent large unexpected maintenance costs.
Something as simple as surfacing maintenance through roto-tilling and weed removal, installing additional surfacing to increase the surface safety rating can really reduce playground injuries on equipment. We can connect you with contractors that are known to do this sort of work quickly and cost efficiently.
With the current budget challenges in the recreation industry it is important to ensure that money is spent in the right places. A needs assessment is a great way to measure the need for the size or the type of playground required. We are familiar with current trends and options in playground equipment and can assist in navigating what makes sense for your project. Certified Playground Inspections can provide you the information to ensure that your decision meets current needs.
PlayEXTEND is our comprehensive playground management program. This program ensures 100% compliance for all inspection, maintenance and documentation requirements of the CSA Z614 standard, while ensuring you get full value of your playground. PlayEXTEND also forecasts important information such as when critical components need to replaced, when fall surfacing needs to be replenished or when an entire playground is needed for replacement. The PlayEXTEND program is designed to be proactive about the planning for repairs and replacements, and we will assist in setting budgets and determining costs associated with managing your playground inventory.