Surfacing the Accessible Playground

7 Commitment to Ongoing Care and Maintenance Maintenance is one of the greatest factors a ff ec Ɵ ng the accessibility of playground surfaces. The accessibility standards require ground surfaces to be inspected and maintained regularly and frequently to ensure con Ɵ nued compliance with ASTM F1951-99. Therefore playground owners should have a thorough understanding of the care and maintenance required for their selected surface systems. Some surface materials may only require seasonal maintenance, while others may require weekly or daily maintenance. The frequency of maintenance is dependent on the surface material and number of users. The NCA surface study showed there was a lack of installa Ɵ on/ maintenance informa Ɵ on provided by the manufacturer to the playground owner prior to purchase and there was a steep learning curve related to working with various surface systems. Each of the 16 par Ɵ cipa Ɵ ng municipali Ɵ es had maintenance personnel trained through either the Na Ɵ onal Recrea Ɵ on and Park Associa Ɵ on’s Cer Ɵ fi ed Playground Safety Inspector program or the Illinois Park District Risk Management Associa Ɵ on (PDRMA). The par Ɵ cipa Ɵ ng agencies recognized maintenance as a cri Ɵ cal need in order to provide a safe environment for the public to recreate. All of the municipali Ɵ es had “playground crews” responsible for visi Ɵ ng each playground site, making visual inspec Ɵ on of the area, collec Ɵ ng trash, and comple Ɵ ng repairs as needed. The playground crews ranged in number from 1-3 sta ff , usually with one full- Ɵ me employee and 2-3 seasonal sta ff during the summer months. At least 30 minutes was spent on site. However, the frequency of visits to each site varied among the di ff erent agencies. Large playgrounds at regional parks and sites where programming occurred were most o Ō en visited. Some were visited daily during peak summer months. Smaller neighborhood parks may have been visited 1-3 Ɵ mes per week or two Ɵ mes per month. Surface de fi ciencies were found to exist at each site regardless of the frequency of visits by the playground crew. Maintenance crews should receive training both on the accessibility standards and the care speci fi c to the surface material. Over the course of the longitudinal study, the research team found that where the playground crews became more engaged in the study, the maintenance speci fi c to accessibility began to improve. At least three EWF sites had improved accessibility where the surface material was observed as more level and be Ʃ er compacted than previous site visits. One site u Ɵ lizing PIP as the primary access route and EWF as the secondary access route was assessed with less than 1 percent slope at the transi Ɵ on between the two surface materials. This was observed as the most improved and maintained transi Ɵ on between surface materials of the sample. Over Ɵ me, the unitary surface may separate at the seams or from the border crea Ɵ ng gaps, openings or changes in level that will require repair. Loose fi ll materials, like EWF, may experience undula Ɵ on of the surface material and or displacement under heavy use areas with mo Ɵ on such as at swings, slides, sliding pools, climbers, spinners and teeter to Ʃ ers. This will require the surface material to be raked level, fi lled and compacted so that the clear ground space is level in all direc Ɵ ons for a safe transfer onto and o ff the equipment. 17

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