This case involves a young boy who was seriously injured while playing on his school’s playground in Florida. A few days prior to the incident in question, the boy’s school had completed the construction on a new playground, which contained several pieces of equipment that had been newly designed and released by the manufacturer. The equipment contained supposedly decorative arches that were not supposed to be climbed on. Nevertheless, the boy was able to climb to the top of one of these arches, at which point he fell nearly 10 feet to the ground. The boy had to be hospitalized for an extended period of time, and suffered a traumatic brain injury which resulted in behavioral changes and negatively impacted his performance in school.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your experience in the design of playground and play structures.
- 2. What standard measures are typically put in place to ensure the safety of playground structures?
Expert Witness Response E-009558
I have reviewed cases like this before with potentially dangerous playground structures. The first thing I would want to determine is whether the design is in line with Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines and American Society for Testing and Materials playground safety standards. If the structure does follow the guidelines, there is less of a case. I helped write the CPSC guidelines and the first version of the ASTM standards, so I am very familiar with this area. I have seen some manufacturers come up with crazy excuses for why a design flaw should not be corrected even though it is clearly in violation. Before becoming a consultant, I owned and operated company that manufactured, designed, and installed playgrounds.
This playground and recreational equipment safety expert has inspected thousands of different types of play equipment at more than 2,700 sites. Before operating as a consultant on recreational safety, this expert was the founder of a large recreational equipment manufacturing company and an instructor for the Certified Playground Safety Inspector Course. He is well published in the field of playground safety and has been invited to lecture on the topic at numerous prestigious conferences and meetings. He belongs to a number of organizations in the playground safety space, including the International Playground Association, the Recreation Safety Institute, and the International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association.
Expert Witness Response E-030076
I have been involved in public playground industry safety standards since the 1970s. I was a Co-Founder and Instructor of the National Recreation and Park Association’s National Playground Safety Institute, as well as its internationally recognized Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) Program. I am also the Chair of the Subcommittee for Public Playground Safety with the American Society for Testing and Materials, a volunteer organization that establishes technical standards in several areas. I have reviewed similar cases brought against playground equipment companies.