A playground audit is an initial or follow-up comprehensive examination of a playground. The purpose of an audit is to review a playground for compliance with:
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Guidelines
- Public Playground Safety Handbook (Publication #325)
- American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standards
- Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use F1487-17
- Standard Guide for ASTM Standards on Playground Surfacing F2223-15
Audits should always be conducted by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI). This certification is available from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).
What are the benefits to your organization?
People often assume that a newly manufactured and installed playground will always meet the requirements, but playgrounds might be installed by contractors who are uneducated about playground equipment, accessibility, or surfacing.
For example, a playground may be correctly assembled and installed, but the use zone around the equipment may be inadequate. The playground could then be installed too close to a fence, parking lot, other playground equipment which could then lead to frequent injuries or a fatality.
A playground audit will improve your peace of mind about a new installation or renovation. In addition, audits provide safety documentation from an independent third party.
This type of survey quickly identifies items such as broken parts, loose-fill surfacing that needs redistributing or vandalism that needs to be addressed on a daily or weekly basis. This type of survey may not be written and is usually conducted by someone who is very familiar with the location. Problems noted during high-frequency inspections may include examples such as missing hardware or worn S-hooks located at the top of the swing sets. A written checklist should be utilized for this type of inspection. The low-frequency survey is typically done quarterly or annually. This process also examines the overall playground setting and may address accessibility, environmental factors, and age appropriateness.
These inspections are a more comprehensive and thorough analysis. By looking at, under, inside, and around the equipment, this type of inspection will result in the discovery of needed repairs that may otherwise be overlooked.
A Playground Audit differs from all other types of inspections because it is the most thorough review available to identify any problems with each playground. An audit includes a review of the equipment, layout, accessibility, and surfacing. The written documentation of an audit should always be completed and on file before accepting a playground and allowing children to play on the site.