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Playgrounds and Care

By Dr. Arthur H. Mittelstaedt, Jr., Ed.D, Recreation Safety Institute, LASN associate editor






The owner/operator shall prepare and maintain accurate catalogues of all machinery and equipment so that historical data is available from previous years pertaining to the operation of equipment. These catalogues shall indicate the age of the equipment, condition, value, the severity of service, safety requirements, hours of operation, exposure to contaminating materials and alignment of component parts.
Photo by P.M Blough, Inc., Frog Hollow Park, Wyoming, Mich.


Playgrounds require maintenance to sustain their condition, appearance, integrity and other aspects of their original state as manufactured and installed. Safety is the most important aspect of maintenance as it affects the well being of children. A maintenance plan and program must be available to every playground owner/operator and implemented by a custodial crew or technical personnel.The preventive maintenance program has as its objectives:

  • Regular care of all equipment, surfaces, buildings and grounds to assure proper maintenance.
  • Minimize, as far as possible, the frequency of unscheduled repair work.
  • Lower the overall cost of maintaining equipment and surfacing, as well as buildings and grounds.
  • Provide more efficient service with the least amount of inconvenience to participants.






The maintenance plan and programs corrective efforts are simple, requiring the component, if in disrepair or missing, be removed, repaired or replaced. Such efforts should the component be secured or purchased from the original manufacturer. Parts, unless permitted in writing from the manufacturer, should not be pulled off the shelf or purchased at the local hardware store.

Any repair work should result in a product conforming to the original specification. Most manufacturers will require that the part be returned to them rather than attempt a repair.






A playground maintenance plan should be preventative, corrective and address the deterioration of various parts. The corrective efforts are simple. It the component is in disrepair or missing, it must be removed, repaired or replaced.
Photo by P.M Blough, Inc., Frog Hollow Park, Wyoming, Mich.


The Maintenance Program Should Include

Meetings: The owner/operator should require preventive and corrective maintenance be discussed with all personnel involved. At meetings of managers and supervisors it shall be stressed that briefing of employees on proper procedure is necessary.

Clinics: The owner/operator shall give particular attention to the off-site clinics for personnel in all aspects of the preventive and corrective maintenance program. Many of the details of this program require knowledge and experience coupled with good judgment for their successful handling. This can only be obtained by careful comprehensive coverage of all types of problems that may be encountered.

On-Site Workshops: The owner/operator should have on-site training for new maintenance workers plus in-service refresher courses shall include training methods so that supervisors can instruct employees under their supervision.






Any repair work should conform to the original specifications. Most manufacturers will require a damaged part be returned to them rather than attempt a repair.


These courses shall also be designed to acquaint supervisors and others with the latest developments in methods of maintenance of playgrounds, plant and equipment. Included in the training program shall be the requirement that purchasing be immediately advised of any problems encountered with new equipment purchased on purchase orders or bidding.

On-going Training: The owner/operator shall train the maintenance staff, identifying and instructing in that which is to be expected and to submit suggestions for improvement in machinery, its operation, inspection methods, the use of tools, or any procedure which would make for more efficient operation. As a means of eliciting suggestions, the staff is instructed to indicate the known or probable cause of any defect they report and to recommend remedial action.

Controls: The owner/operator shall prepare and maintain accurate catalogues of all machinery and equipment so that historical data is available from previous years pertaining to the operation of equipment. These catalogues shall indicate the age of the equipment, condition, value, the severity of service, safety requirements, hours of operation, exposure to contaminating materials and alignment of component parts. From these catalogues, maintenance schedules can be prepared as needed. Dates of purchase shall be compared with the project inventory sheet so that the owner/operator will know when to replace obsolete equipment.

Audits: The owner/operator should have audits that provide a periodic, irregular check on the status of measures employed by the agency.

Checkups: The owner/operator should have checkups of the playground to provide a routine, regular format and analysis on different components or elements of the playgrounds such as ancillary equipment, its personnel, its activities and other aspect.

Checklists: The owner/operator should establish procedural forms which are then set up as checklists. However, more currently, performance oriented criteria is used and it is set up in formats that can be computer adapted.

Time Tables or Schedules: The owner/operator schedule should have a time sequence of events associated with the tasks as necessary.

Records: The owner/operator should become an important part of justifying and documenting the validity of the maintenance program.







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December 7, 2019, 4:29 am PDT

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