May 2023 Newsletter – Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments: General Playground Safety

General Playground Safety

Outdoor environments provide rich learning experiences and the chance for children to strengthen motor skills, refine muscle coordination, and burn some energy.  They also present several safety concerns unique to the outdoors.

Programs should develop systems that ensure that outdoor environments remain fun, engaging, and safe places for children to play.  Daily, weekly, monthly, and annual inspections should occur.  Programs should refer to their state’s licensing regulations and other child care safety resources to determine what items should be included as part of each inspection.

It is best if staff rotate these responsibilities to gain multiple safety perspectives. Once an inspection is complete, a plan of action should be developed to address any issues that were noted during the inspection.

Checks must be performed regularly to ensure that teachers, not children, are the first to discover hazards on the playground.


__ The equipment has adequate surface under and around the equipment (at least 12 inches of loose-fill fall-zone material or other approved surfacing).

__ Loose-fill protective covering is free from foreign objects and debris.

__ Loose-fill protective covering is not compacted (should not be hard or non−absorbent).

General Hazards

__ No sharp points and edges on the equipment.

__ All protective caps and plugs are in place.

__ No dangerous protrusions and projections.

__ No entrapment or strangulation hazards.

__ No trip hazards or pinch, crush, or shearing points.


__ No dangerous rust, cracks, or splinters.

__ No broken or missing components.

__ Equipment is properly anchored.


__ Fasteners (bolts, screws, etc.) are not loose or worn.

__ Bearings on spinning, rotating, or other moving parts are in good working condition.


__ Playground has proper drainage.

__ No standing water under swings or in high−traffic areas.

General Upkeep

__ The playground is free of litter and debris.

__ Trash receptacles are emptied on a regular basis.

__ The area is free of poisonous plants and harmful insects.

__ Shade is available and shade structures are in good condition.

Barriers and Gates

__ No holes or damaged sections in the fence.

__ Latches and hinges on gates are in good working order.

Here is another resource to review.


For the main article Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Active Supervision, CLICK HERE

For the article General Indoor Safety Considerations, CLICK HERE

For the article Maintaining Safety with Fresh Eyes, CLICK HERE