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New Zealand introduces updated playground standards

New Zealand introduces updated playground standards
December 12, 2016

Standards New Zealand has introduced a new standard for playground equipment and surfacing - updating the earlier 2004 version.

NZS 5828:2015 Playground equipment and surfacing applies to all playgrounds and playground equipment, apart from equipment for domestic purposes, and also covers nature play or natural playgrounds that have been artificially created or enhanced.

Applicable for anyone involved in the design, build and manufacture of playground equipment, the updated standard promotes and encourages the provision and use of playgrounds that are well designed, constructed and maintained, as well as innovative and challenging, while still offering children a degree of risk in a controlled environment.

Barbara Lingard, Chair of the committee that revised the standard, says the committee decided it was important that New Zealand keep up with international standards that had been upgraded more than once since 2004. 

Lindgard stated “we reviewed and adopted the latest editions of the international standards that made up NZS 5828:2004 and adopted two additional parts.

“We also revised the additional recommendations and requirements for playground equipment and surfacing to meet needs that are specific to the New Zealand environment.”

Throughout the updating process, the Committee was mindful that play is essential to the healthy development of children. Through independent or cooperative play, children are able to learn about themselves and their environment, while stimulating their creative, emotional, and physical development. Risk-taking, however, is also an essential feature of play provision and of all environments in which children legitimately spend time playing. Children need to learn to cope with risk and this may lead to bumps and bruises and occasionally even a broken limb. 

Lindgard says it is not the purpose of NZS 5828 to lessen the contribution that playground equipment makes to the child's development or play, which is meaningful from an educational point of view, but rather to manage the balance between the need to offer risk and the need to keep children safe from serious harm. 

She adds “it is very important for children to experience risk.

“What the committee wanted first and foremost, however, was to prevent accidents with a disabling or fatal consequence, for example head and neck entrapment, and secondly to lessen serious consequences caused by the occasional mishap that inevitably will occur in children's pursuit of expanding their level of competence, be it socially, intellectually or physically.” 

Lindgard believes that the new version of NZS 5828:2015 is easier to read and a more user-friendly document than the 2004 version. 

Click here for more information or to buy a copy of the new standards.

Image: The award winning Tākaro ā Poi/Margaret Mahy Family Playground in Christchurch.

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