Help park visitors stay safe outdoors with these park maintenance safety tips
Your tribe’s parks and playgrounds are ideal places for adults and children to spend recreational time together, and you can ensure their safety with these park maintenance safety tips. If not properly maintained, these venues can pose more of a hazard than a help. If your enterprise has these risks, be sure to read through the following safety steps to ensure your patrons and their children remain safe and happy on your premises.
Park maintenance safety tips for outdoor venues, parks and landscaping
- Make sure there are no potholes or other tripping hazards, such as cracking or buckling cement or pervasive root systems from nearby landscaping.
- Ensure that paved paths are even and well-maintained, free of cracks, and have appropriate signage for any hazards or rules patrons must know about. Natural paths should have appropriate underlay such as gravel or packed dirt, even and free of obstructions, and not washed out by recent weather events.
- Check that sidewalks are in good condition and free of the above as well.
- Eradicate any known noxious weeds or other hazardous plant life growing on premises, such as poison oak, nettles, etc.
- After severe weather events, send groundskeepers to inspect landscaping and to look for any additional hazards created by the weather such as large puddles, buckling earth, mud or washouts. The same should be performed seasonally to monitor the effects of the elements on outdoor facilities.
- Implement a regular maintenance and inspection schedule so that no outdoor facilities fall into disrepair or pose hazards to the public. Ensure that maintenance crews are made aware of any hazards as soon as possible.
- If there are any water features, such as ponds, lakes, or fountains, inspect them regularly for leaks. Ensure that appropriate signs are in place to prevent misuse and potential injuries (e.g., “no swimming or diving” signs, “swim at your own risk,” etc.)
Related: Playground safety: How you can reduce injuries on your tribal lands
Park maintenance safety tips for outdoor furniture or facilities
- Regularly inspect and maintain outdoor furniture or facilities such as benches, chairs, tables, bleachers, or restrooms.
- Ensure that any wear and tear on furniture and facilities is not excessive in any way. Watch out for items such as sharp edges, exposed bolts or hardware, or general disrepair such as broken or missing pieces. Make sure the structural integrity of all furniture and facilities is sound.
- Check that furniture or facilities are firmly bolted or secured in place.
- Inspect furniture and facilities for graffiti or other vandalism. If furniture or facilities become vandalized, institute a maintenance program to combat the effect, e.g., repair, clean up, fresh coats of paint, etc. Once an item has become vandalized, it will only become a target for further vandalism if it is not repaired or addressed promptly.
Park maintenance safety tips for any play equipment or structures
- Inspect structures using the same quality controls listed above for outdoor furniture and facilities – no sharp edges, exposed hardware or elements where children could potentially sustain injuries. Head entrapment is a particular concern.
- Play equipment should conform to national safety standards, such as those prescribed by the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS).
- Make sure all playground equipment is SAFE:
- S – appropriately supervised, if applicable
- A – Age-appropriate
- F – provides an appropriate Fall surface to minimize injury
- E – has the appropriate Equipment maintenance conducted regularly
- All playground equipment should be appropriately installed and should conform to manufacturer guidelines. Refer to the user handbook in the case of any questions or call the manufacturer for guidance.
- Make sure all equipment is regularly maintained and inspected by a certified playground safety inspector.
- Safety rules should be clearly posted, especially if the area is unsupervised.
A last note to consider is that when patrons are using outdoor venues for rest and relaxation, the odds are good that the patrons themselves may not be viewing their surroundings with the same risk-mitigation approach they might normally use in other situations and surroundings. That is why it’s important to use these park maintenance safety tips: remove as many hazards as possible from these areas and notify patrons of any possible hazards they may encounter. These tips will help you prevent accidents before they can occur.
Related: Top ways you can reduce tribal government risk
For more information on how to minimize these risks, please contact your broker or your Arrowhead Tribal risk manager, Mark Sherwood, at email@example.com.