Playground

01 Overview

Playgrounds give children a place to socialize, play, explore, and develop. The majority of injuries on playgrounds occur to the extremities (arms and legs), particularly the upper extremities, followed by injuries to the head. Monkey bars are the playground structure that is most associated with injury.

(see Section 04 - Prevention)
Athlete silhouette
View Common Injuries by clicking the blue dots on the silhouette

Fractures are the most common injury type in playgrounds.

Although brain injury is not a common injury in playgrounds, significant injury can occur from falling from playground equipment.

Fractures are the most common injury type in playgrounds.

Sprains and strains can happen on playgrounds, and they occur most often in association with a fall from playground equipment.

02 Injury Statistics

Falls are the most common reason for injury in playgrounds, with fractures being the most common type of injury. Contusion and crushing injuries can happen in playgrounds and occur from falls from playground equipment. The majority of injuries on playgrounds occur among 5 to 9-year-olds. In 2014, there were 542 emergency room visits by 0 to 14-year-olds to BC Children’s Hospital from playground injuries.

Curious about the research on injuries?

It is estimated that...

View Summary of Incidence Rates

03 Risk Factors

  • Playground Equipment

    Playground equipment without handrails or guardrails, and equipment that is higher than 1.5 metres, can increase the risk of injury from a fall.

  • Playground Surfacing

    The surface that the playground equipment is built on may increase the risk of injury. Surfacing material that is non-impact absorbing, such as bark, concrete, tarmac, or grass, increases the risk of injury and severe injury, as compared to impact-absorbing material, such as rubber. Equipment-based playgrounds with surfacing that does not meet Canadian recommendations also increase the risk of injury.

  • Playground Location

    Risk of injury is higher on playground equipment at home than in public settings.

View Summary of Risk Factors

04 How can I prevent injury?

  • Participant & Parent

    Playground Equipment

    Evidence suggests that playgrounds that follow Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards and recommendations can reduce the risk of injury by up to 30%. This includes limiting the height for playground equipment (1.5 metres or less) and building equipment on impact-absorbing surfaces. Learn more about CSA standards for playgrounds and play spaces on the CSA website.

    Managing Concussion

    While concussions are not common on the playground, it is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for parents and their children to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

  • Coach & Teacher

    Playground Equipment

    Ensure that playground equipment is regularly inspected and maintained. Evidence suggests that playgrounds that follow Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards and recommendations can reduce the risk of injury by up to 30%. This includes limiting the height for playground equipment (1.5 metres or less) and building equipment on impact-absorbing surfaces. Learn more about CSA standards for playgrounds and play spaces on the CSA website.

    Managing Concussion

    While concussions are not common on the playground, it is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for school professionals on how to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Playground Safety Training
    You can take training courses to learn more about playground safety. Below are examples of training courses offered.

    British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association
    Canadian Playground Safety Institute

    For School Administrators:
    Increase the likelihood that your school (including you, your teachers, and facilities management teams) adheres to CSA standards by facilitating regular meetings with your staff.

    Create a playground injury prevention plan with a CSA adherence checklist and ensure your administration and staff are informed of its contents. These documents can be used to ensure adherence to the guidelines, as well as help monitor the injuries that may occur at your school on the playground. Playground injury prevention starts with developing a playground injury prevention plan. This plan must make sure that the rules of the outdoor play area are understood by all staff members, and what measures to take in case of an injury.

    Playground injury prevention plans should include:

    1. A training program for supervisors and children,
    2. A system for reporting injuries,
    3. Injury documentation, and
    4. Annual evaluation.

    Examples of standards checklists for playgrounds and play spaces:

  • Official & Administrator

    Playground Equipment

    Ensure that playground equipment is regularly inspected and maintained. Evidence suggests that playgrounds that follow Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards and recommendations can reduce the risk of injury by up to 30%. This includes limiting the height for playground equipment (1.5 metres or less) and building equipment on impact-absorbing surfaces. Learn more about CSA standards for playgrounds and play spaces on the CSA website.

    Managing Concussion

    While concussions are not common on the playground, it is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource where you can learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Playground Safety Training
    You and your staff can take training courses to learn more about playground safety. Below are examples of training courses offered.

    Injury Prevention Plan
    Increase the likelihood that your school (including you, your teachers, and facilities management teams) adheres to CSA standards by facilitating regular meetings with your staff.

    Create a playground injury prevention plan with a CSA adherence checklist and ensure your administration and staff are informed of its contents. These documents can be used to ensure adherence to the guidelines, as well as help monitor the injuries that may occur at your school on the playground. Playground injury prevention starts with developing a playground injury prevention plan. This plan must make sure that the rules of the outdoor play area are understood by all staff members, and what measures to take in case of an injury.

    Playground injury prevention plans should include:

    1. A training program for supervisors and children,
    2. A system for reporting injuries,
    3. Injury documentation, and
    4. Annual evaluation.

    Examples of standards checklists for playgrounds and play spaces:

  • Health Professional

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to diagnose and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to assess a potential concussion, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.