Ways to Ensure that Metal Surfaces are Safe
The unique design and layout of every playground will incorporate a variety of materials and surfaces that children come into a high degree of contact with. High degrees of exposure place children at risk if the materials are not manufactured and maintained properly. Metal components are no exception to the rule but pose a minimal risk when used in the right way. Playgrounds have a set of specific needs due to the unpredictability of their users, so all the components need to be produced and installed in a way that is cognizant of those needs. Children need designated spaces to play and exercise, and those areas need to be safe for this vulnerable population. There are simple ways to ensure that metal equipment can serve its purpose with minimal risk of harm and injury.
Metal playground equipment presents specific kinds of hazards. This material will heat up easily, especially in direct sunlight, and could be a burn hazard. Platforms, slides, and steps should not be made of metal. They are areas that children come into contact with the most. Children can sit on or lie down on these areas, exposing more of their body to potential burns. If any high-contact areas are metal, they need to be oriented in such a way that they won’t constantly be in direct sunlight, which will prevent them from heating up to dangerous temperatures.
Rusting is another concern with metal playground equipment and components. It needs to be treated to prevent rust from compromising the structural integrity of the equipment or degrading hardware. Finishes and treatments, however, are often made from harsh chemicals that are hazardous when exposed to children. Children can ingest, inhale, or absorb anything that is used on playground equipment. They touch everything and put things in their mouths. The manufacturer needs to ensure that they choose finishes that are safe for children without sacrificing durability.