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Property managers should treat playground safety very seriously. Property managers are not only responsible for handling tenants, managing leases, and keeping records but are also responsible for the day-to-day physical management of a property, including emergency repairs and routine and preventative maintenance. A property manager’s maintenance duties are not limited to unclogging drains or replacing hinges; s/he must maintain a safe and clean community playground. Managers should routinely check that the communal playground, its surrounding area, and its access pathways are free of litter, dangerous objects, and that all playground equipment is free of damage.
A good property manager should start with a benchmark inspection on their playground area by a Certified Playground Inspector. A CPSI. The inspection will generate a report that lays out and priorities all the safety hazards found in the playground. The property manager can then decided which non-compliant issues to tackle first based on their priority rating. The manager can work with the playground inspector to develop a maintenance plan that is specific to the site.
Playgrounds are supposed to be fun! Inadequate maintenance of playground equipment can result in serious or fatal injuries to children. The equipment manufacturer’s installation instructions should always be strictly followed and a playground maintenance schedule should be developed. Managers should be on the lookout for cracks in plastic equipment, worn parts, displaced loose surfacing, corroded metals, rot and insect damage, flaking paint, and vandalism. An inspection by a qualified person will discover potential problems and hazards: entanglements which can cause choking, equipment and surfaces exposed to the direct sun that can cause serious burns, protrusions which can tear and lacerate the skin, and trip hazards. All problems should be noted and repairs made as soon as possible.
Managers should also be aware of the intended age groups of their communities’ playground users to ensure that appropriate equipment is installed. Warning signs and labels should be clear, visible, and legible and placed at entry points to the play area to provide guidance to those supervising children–parents, guardians, and caregivers– to alert, warn, and educate them about safe and proper use of playgrounds.
Keeping up with current trends and standards for playground safety will help property managers ensure that their playgrounds are better and safer places for their youngest tenants.