Playgrounds provide a key component to a child’s development, they offer a multitude of developmental opportunities for children to advance their skills and confidence. Whether it be emotional, physical, social or cognitive playgrounds are fundamental in helping children to play and practise their skills. With this in mind, skill-building and brain and body development can’t take place without safe, age and developmentally appropriate challenges.
As with all the playgrounds we design and install, we need to provide a safe environment that allows children to play freely whilst offering challenges that will not only test them, but in doing so teach them new skills. At PlayEquip we work closely with our clients and the prevailing safety concerns from parents, teachers and governors, along with increased regulations and standards, are at the forefront of our design process. This helps to ensure that all parties’ minds are at ease, but also offers as much fun and development opportunities for the children as possible.
Challenging yet safe
Incorporating more challenging elements within the playground shouldn’t come at the cost of a child’s safety. It is not something that needs to be compromised on, a one or the other conversation, but instead should be a balance that must be met by considering both. Arguably, the importance of providing developmentally and age appropriate playground equipment that helps children take risks takes just as high of a place as the safety of the equipment and child.
At PlayEquip we are committed to working with and complying with the EN1176 and other organisations to ensure that playground equipment products are safe for children. We’re also passionate about providing appropriate challenges to enhance a child’s development and truly believe that our site specific approach to playground design always gives a better outcome. Our playground equipment designs are key to making the balance between challenge and safety a possibility. We view playgrounds as a gateway to keep children away from dangerous hazards, whilst encouraging them to test their limits, learn to overcome challenges and take healthy risks
Our Robinia Climber Stack is a great example of how we offer children opportunities to challenge themselves in a multitude of ways by providing a piece of equipment and experience completely different from those offered by traditional play structures. This particular design offers a less apparent method of play and a more explorative way of use; this in turn allows the type of play to be more creative and help develop cognitive, social and problem solving skills.
We hope that designs such as this can provide appropriate challenges whilst ensuring safety, satisfying the children, parents and complying with regulations.
When working with clients; be it landscape architects, designers, schools or councils, we have a tried and tested process which has meant we can collaborate in a way that preserves the innovative designs whilst also ensuring safety and standards are kept to the highest spec. As we have been working with playgrounds for years we would consider ourselves to be experts in the field. When concepts are presented to us, we happily cast our eyes over the designs and are able to highlight any pitfalls and conflicting arrangements that may not be compliant with the EN1176.
At PlayEquip we find working closely with our clients ensures that we are able to complete projects to a premium specification, ensure customer satisfaction and often exceed expectations. We have found the perfect balance of listening to our clients’ needs, understanding and delivering exactly what they need to help enhance and improve their spaces, working alongside each other.
Of course, we would never be able to give complete professional judgement over this which is why once we have collaborated with our clients we then organise for the designs to be assessed by an unbiased independent play safety inspector on desktop. This occurs before any manufacturing or any contractors are commissioned to ensure that there are no errors and to keep each project cost and time effective.
For bespoke designs in particular, our process involves the design and development of play structures and equipment in 3D CAD. One of the reasons we do design work in 3D CAD is to help us and the independent play safety inspector to fully understand our design intent before fabrication. Sometimes 2D drawings don’t reveal potential pitfalls in the design, these 3D drawings are desktop assessed by the independent play safety inspector and ourselves to make sure nothing has been overlooked.
Once our projects are 90% completed we organise another inspection by an independent play safety inspector. This is where any snagging issues, questions or unforeseen issues may have arisen. We choose to undertake this before it has been 100% completed as this is often before any safety surfacing has been installed. In doing so, this allows us to move pieces of equipment should it be needed and in turn another great time and cost effective practice. This is particularly important if the surfacing chosen is from our wet pour or rubber mulch range – having to dig this up once it has been installed can incur unforeseen costs and can be incredibly inconvenient for a client especially as it can be prevented.
A pre-completion assessment is also a great chance for clients to see whether they are also satisfied with how their final designs are looking, whether they would like to add anything else or simply to help reassure everything is being completed to a safe and high standard.
Once all snags and potential safety risks have been amended we undertake a final post completion inspection via an independent play safety inspector. We ensure that a thorough examination of the playground is carried out and a final inspection report is given to our clients. This provides complete satisfaction and well-being on all sides, ensuring all parties involved are content with the project.
This is our tried and tested technique to reassure the client, landscape architect and ourselves that all the t’s are crossed, i’s are dotted and to make sure everything that can be done to make sure the playground is safe is achieved.
For help in designing a safe and challenging playground for your community, school or organisation, get in touch with us via email or phone, we will be happy to help!