During Playground Construction
"If you build it, they will come." This movie quote seems to fit today's playgrounds better than baseball diamonds. If you wonder what I mean, observe a typical new playground construction project and watch the children come... in hordes.
Keeping the public safe during playground construction is a priority among professional playground builders. Gone are the days of unsecured playground construction sites.
Playground owners and builders must understand that once slides, roofs and colors appear children will gravitate to the site to observe the fun and excitement appearing before their eyes.
This is natural and expected of children. What may not be expected is their misunderstanding of the need to stay off the equipment until it is completely installed and surfacing is in place. I have been to construction sites where dozens of children have remained safe by staying on the outside of the construction site, and I've been to other sites where dozens of children will test playground construction sites as if it was the new playground itself.
It should be assumed that all new sites will have curious, safety illiterate child who needs encouragement to stay out of the construction area. Dangers children may encounter at a new site could include open holes in the ground into which a child could fall; unsecured equipment that could fall or tip; heavy equipment such as tractors, nails, or sharp objects from packaging materials; steel stakes or other protrusions and various other safety hazards. A child climbing on equipment that doesn't have protective surfacing installed may fall onto the hard surface at risk of injury.
Sturdy fencing and written signage are necessary defenses to help keep children off a partially-constructed playground. Security guards may also be required to watch the area if children are present.
The use of police-style caution tape or traffic cones does not establish a secure method of keeping children out of the construction area. Do not use these items and hope for the best. A secure fence such as a chain link or heavy plastic will help children understand they are not currently welcome at the playground. Signs will help parents and children who are willing and able to read. As a "believe it or not" example, I was at a new playground construction site that had inadequate fencing and signage. I observed a mother actually carry her child to the playground while builders were at work. She sat the child on the slide and honestly did not understand why she shouldn't let him slide. A fence and signage would have given her more clues.
Besides keeping children safe from construction hazards, fencing and signage could provide an adequate defense in case of litigation that may arise from an unfortunate breach of the construction site by a child.
Be sure to take the proper precautions to provide the public with a safe community during playground construction. Remember when it comes to playground construction safety... D'fence is the best defense.