Catton’s Fabrications is part of an industry so far removed from my own that I can hardly believe I played a part in producing this website! However, as soon as I began researching the subject, I was sucked into the fascinating world of metal, machinery, and fabrication. I thoroughly enjoyed this job, and I’m proud of the result.
I was, therefore, delighted to be asked to write the text for a pamphlet promoting the company’s Playpark Inspection service. But did I know anything about playground inspections? Did I heck-as-like!
It turned out to be a fascinating subject.
The very essence of play is exploration, and we all know that a loose drain cover, an unsecured bin, or a hole in the fence will be just as inviting to a curious child as brightly painted swings and slides. Playground operators have a responsibility to the public to keep their play areas in a safe condition, and these businesses and organisations will have in place a system of basic maintenance. But in addition to these frequent in-house checks, regular inspections of the equipment should be carried out by a competent person, in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
That’s where Catton’s Fabrications comes in. Shane Catton and his staff, who are qualified RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) inspectors, will assess play equipment to ensure that supports and fixings are secure and that timber and metalwork is undamaged and free from corrosion. Moving parts will be tested, and the apparatus will be checked for hazards, such as protruding bolts. They’ll also check that seats, rails, steps, chutes, chains, bars, pedals, and ropes are in good condition.
They’ll check for signs of natural wear and tear. For example, hollow metal tubes can begin to rust both inside and out, or bow with the pressure of internal ice; rubberised surfaces can become slippery with a build-up of algae; bars and poles can become loose in their fixings. When damage is identified, the inspector will help create a strategy for remedial action.
RoSPA inspectors will examine all safety surfaces, checking that there are no holes or gaps in wet-pour or tiled surfaces, and that loose-fill surfaces are level, clear of hazardous objects, and at least 300mm deep. Every aspect of the play area will be considered: the integrity of gates, fences, and benches; the condition of pathways and nearby trees; barriers to roadways and open water; the security and hygiene of litter bins and drains.
A legal requirement under the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 is that playground operators carry out a risk assessment. Qualified RoSPA inspectors will provide a thorough risk assessment of a play area based on a profound understanding of fabrication and the behavioural habits of children at play.
The risk assessment demonstrates a professional approach to playground management. In the unfortunate case of serious accident and a subsequent claim for damages, an effective risk assessment, with evidence of regular review, will demonstrate due diligence on the part of the playground operator.
A playground offers children the opportunity to explore and to test their abilities; therefore, in preparing a risk assessment, it is important to remember that a play area should be as safe as necessary – not as safe as possible.
Link to Catton’s Fabrications website