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A Specialist Speaks about Playground Safety
The Executive Director of IPSI

A Specialist Speaks about Playground Safety

The International Playground Safety Institute, LLC is a committee under the National Recreation and Park Association. Kenneth Kutska, CPRP, CPSI formed the institute because a new standard was going to come out and he wanted to set up a new training program to inform people on safety requirements to be incorporated into new playgrounds.

The following is a summary of an interview that Ken Kutska, CPRP, CPSI and executive director of the International Playground Safety Institute, LLC, gave to LandscapeOnline Weekly:

One of the greatest challenges when developing a playground is budget. The cost that goes into the design and construction plays a determining factor in the playground's end result. Multi-million dollar "Mega" playgrounds are being built throughout the country and with the inclusion of landscape and site amenities, the cost of playgrounds increase. The demand to meet the desires of children can clash with the limited funds provided. It can also lead to safety issues. For example, kids want to climb high objects, and often, they want to climb higher than the equipment warrants. Of course, there is a desire to design equipment that is unique, has high-quality value, and invites "risks and challenges" for kids' enjoyment. But to what degree? These efforts can present other issues.

Playgrounds are lasting longer because they are better maintained and better built. "The play area becomes an outdoor laboratory, learning environment for kids to observe and explore and do things at their own pace," said Kutska. So, how do you create the "Wow" factor for kids who learn and experience at different paces in a mostly unsupervised environment like a playground? To provide exposure to satisfy children's appetite for adventure can run the risk of equipment that could cause injuries or liability issues. On the other hand, to "dumb down the playground," or simplify the playground's equipment because of the cost and fear of exposure is not as appealing to kids.

Kutska encourages annual and thorough safety inspections from a qualified person dealing with equipment and compliance. One of the most important aspects when inspecting playgrounds is making sure to record the inspection notes and information for reference and safety. Furthermore, Kutska desires accreditation for continuing education units for architects (especially young architects) so that they can receive baseline information on factors such as budget, maintenance and safety.

NRPA offers the Certified Playground Safety Inspector course to instruct on how to identify hazards on playgrounds and equipment, as well as training on how to apply the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) standards and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) guidelines in the playground environment.

To learn more about IPSI's role in playground safety, visit For more information on NRPA's certification program, visit

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September 22, 2019, 10:47 am PDT

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