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Understanding Playground Assessments, Inspections & Audits

Understanding what you need to know

Maybe your school is one of the hundreds in Australia that hasn’t yet caught up with the latest playground inspection requirements. 

We often hear questions like:

  • What are playground inspections?
  • Why are playground audits needed?
  • Who can conduct playground inspections?
  • How often should a playground be audited?

Australian Playground Standard AS 4685.0 requires regular inspection of playgrounds and this blog will help you make sense of these complex requirements.

Firstly, why it is important to keep up to speed with playground inspections? Here is why:

  • Should anything happen that involves legal action, there is documentation and supporting evidence that shows the playground operator has taken their responsibilities seriously and fulfilled their duty of care.
  • An assessment highlights maintenance issues, identifying any hazardous playground equipment before it leads to an accident.
  • By identifying maintenance issues and fixing immediately, the life span of the playground equipment can be extended.
  • Identifying wear and tear, and any maintenance issues, it can also help in budgeting and planning for new playground equipment.
  • An assessment gives playground operators the peace of mind that they’re complying with government and Standards guidelines and requirements.

Types of Playground Inspections

Routine Visual Inspection
The Australia Standard explains the purpose of this inspection is to ‘identify obvious hazards that can result from wear and tear, vandalism or weather conditions.’ This inspection should include checking debris in the playground that could be hazardous, loose fill surfacing levels, damage to equipment etc.

It should be carried out regularly, however the local conditions, frequency of use and the manufacturer’s instructions should be taken into account. Playgrounds that are heavily used or prone to vandalism may require daily inspection.

Operational Inspection
An Operational Inspection is more detailed than a Routine Visual Inspection and checks the operation and stability of the equipment. For example, it includes checking for excessive wear of moving parts, security of bolts and fasteners, and protrusions and sharp edges.

The Standard states that this inspection should ‘be carried out regularly, on a monthly or quarterly basis unless there are compelling reasons to deviate from this inspection frequency.’

Comprehensive Annual Inspection
In addition to checking all the items covered by the Operational Inspection, the Comprehensive Annual Inspection determines the conformance of the equipment with relevant parts of AS 4685, and establishes the overall level of safety of the equipment, foundations and playground surfaces. This inspection assesses things such as whether the equipment is free of head and neck entrapments, finger entrapments, crush points and guardrails are the correct heights, to name a few.

Who should conduct Inspections?
The Australia Standard specifies that less complex inspections that are conducted frequently ‘can be undertaken by ground staff who may be also carrying out maintenance tasks during the same visit.’ Comprehensive inspections typically conducted less frequently, require more expertise. For example, the Comprehensive Annual Inspection should be performed by a person that has training and experience that enables them to perform a full conformity check to AS 4685.

We believe that even persons with an engineering or safety qualification will only be regarded as competent to conduct comprehensive inspections if they have had specific training and experience in the relevant playground standards.

By choosing adventure+ to undertake inspections for playground equipment, you have the assurance that all our inspectors are experienced, trained and have a Level 3 Playground Auditor’s Certificate.

To find out more about the playground assessment services adventure+ offers, download our Playground Assessment Brochure.

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