Playground Safety Checklist

Each year in the US, over 200,000 children go to the emergency room with injuries they sustained on playgrounds. While not every injury is preventable, many are, and it’s up to playground owners and operators to ensure their playgrounds are safe, navigable, and free of common safety hazards.

At, it’s our business to help simplify playground safety, which is why we’ve come up with a list of ten considerations that will help kids on your playground to avoid accidental injury. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it will give you a better idea of what to look for in terms of potential safety risks on your playground.

1: Surfacing depth of at least 12 inches

Whether you’re using wood chips, rubber mulch, sand, or pea gravel, improper surfacing depth leaves your playground-goers prone to accidental injury, particularly from falls. Having a surface depth of at least twelve inches around your playground will help safeguard children from serious injury in the case of accidental falls.

2: Surfacing should extend at least six feet in all directions from play equipment

Along with surface depth, one should also hone in on surface breadth. More specifically, every inch of ground within a six foot radius of swings, play structures, climbers, etc. should be properly covered by surfacing material. Failing to address surface breadth increases the likelihood of serious injury in the case of kids falling or tripping.

3: Ensure play structures and other equipment taller than three feet are spaced at least nine feet apart

Perhaps the cardinal rule of laying out a playground is to ensure proper spacing between equipment. By allowing for nine feet of space between each piece of playground equipment, you enable kids to move to and from structures without fear of inadvertently running into equipment or each other.

4: No potential entrapment spaces

Particularly on play structures and climbers, it’s vital to make sure that spaces that could trap children (e.g. those between guardrails or ladder rungs) aren’t present. More specifically, make sure these spaces measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.

5: No loose or protruding hardware

Regularly checking for and addressing dangerous aspects of your playground equipment will help preclude the sorts of cuts and abrasions that come as a result of faulty, dangerous playground equipment. From open “S” hooks to jagged bolt ends, there’s no shortage of ways for kids to hurt themselves when playing on faulty playground equipment.

6: No sharp points or edges in equipment

If not properly maintained, conventional playground equipment like swing sets and play structures can wear and weather to the point where they gain sharp edges, presenting obvious dangers to kids. Especially for playgrounds that are frequently used, it’s important to maintain equipment and check it for potentially dangerous parts.

7: Examine playground area for tripping hazards

One crucial aspect of proper playground surfacing is to hone in on potential tripping hazards. Some common examples of tripping hazards include exposed concrete footings, tree roots, and rocks.

8: Ensure all elevated surfaces feature intact, functional guardrails

When it comes to preventing accidental falls, perhaps no aspect of a play structure is more effective than guardrails. For this reason, make sure all your guardrails are properly installed and that no loose nuts or bolts are present.

9: Regularly maintenance checks to ensure that playground equipment and surfacing are in acceptable condition

By examining your playground on a regular basis, you’ll be more capable of taking care of minor issues like excessive rust or sharp edges before they turn into bigger problems.

10: Supervise children on your playground to ensure their safety

As often as possible, supervise your playground while it’s at its busiest. This way, you’re not only able to respond in the event a child injures themselves, you can also get a better idea of which areas of the playground are more hazardous than others.