Administrative Procedure 530: Outdoor Playspaces and Playground Equipment

Legal References

Education Act: Section 265 Duties of Principal: Care of Pupils and Property; Section 286 Duties of Supervisory Officers: Supervise Buildings and Property; Ontario Regulation 298 Operation of Schools Section 11 (3) (l) Duties of Principals: Inspect School Premises at Least Weekly and Report Need for Repairs; National playground Standard of Canada for Children’s Playspaces and Equipment, CAN-CSA Z614

Related References

1. Intended Purpose

1.1 This procedure has been established in the interest of ensuring all school ground outdoor play spaces and playground equipment project areas are safe, sustainable and low maintenance.
1.2 Any outdoor play spaces and playground equipment project should be designed first and foremost to enhance the social/physical activity experience of students. The projects will not be allowed to displace other important and appropriate functional uses of the grounds.
1.3 Facilities Services supports schools in the purchase of new play structures on Board property. Facilities Services may not contribute financially but assumes the liability and responsibility for the play structure.
1.4 The following procedure will outline the design, purchase, installation, maintenance/repair, inspections and safety for play areas.

2. Definitions

2.1 Playground Equipment – a play structure anchored to the ground or having natural stability and not intended to be moved, that is for use in the play areas located on the playground.
2.2 Outdoor Play space – may include the use of natural pieces such as trees, boulders, tree stumps, pathways, trails, raised flower beds as well as other items such as benches to create a social center, and areas sheltered from the elements on the school property or in the early learning play area.

3. Administrative Procedure

3.1 Design and Planning Stage

3.1.1 Schools must first consult with Facilities Services to share plans of replacing or adding to all playground equipment or outdoor play spaces. It should be noted that installation of playground equipment by volunteers is not permitted.
3.1.2 Based on the scope of item 3.1.1., Facilities Services will determine if the services of a Landscape Architect are required.
3.1.3 When the location and basic design is approved by Facilities Services, the Principal should communicate with Procurement Services to start the proper procurement process.
3.1.4 The design, construction and installation of all (new and existing) play structures must conform to the standards from the Canadian Standards Association CSA-Z614, Children’s Play spaces and Equipment currently in effect at the time of installation as well as current AODA compliance requirements.
3.1.5 Schools are responsible for all related costs in the replacement or installation of playground equipment/outdoor play space. This includes site improvements recommended by Facilities Services and/or Landscape Architect which may include drainage, shade, accessibility, safety surfacing and related materials.

3.2 Installation

3.2.1 The school will let Facilities Services know when the installation is complete. The vendor must keep the area safe and fenced off until the Board provided third party CSA inspector has approved the initial inspection.
3.2.2 The vendor must follow location, ground prep and drainage requirements laid out by Facilities Services and/or the Landscape Architect.

3.3 Inspections

3.3.1 The initial third party CSA inspection will be provided by Facilities Services.
3.3.2 The Principal or designate shall carry out a visual inspection of the playground equipment and play spaces on a daily basis and record the results on the ‘Daily Playground Inspection and Maintenance Form’ attached as Appendix A.
3.3.3 The Principal or designate shall carry out a detailed inspection of all equipment and surfaces every month, and the results and actions taken entered in the ‘Monthly Playground Inspection and Maintenance Form’ attached as Appendix A.
3.3.4 Facilities Services shall make arrangements to have a certified third party inspector perform a comprehensive inspection of all playground equipment and play spaces annually. The results shall be entered in a permanent record and provided to the facilities department. An electronic copy of the inspection will be provided to the school.

3.4 Maintenance and Repair

3.4.1 Facilities Services will cover minor repairs to existing equipment up to $1,000 per structure annually.
3.4.2 Facilities Services will maintain existing safety surfacing up to $1,000 per structure annually.
3.4.3 The expected life cycle of playground equipment is a 15-20 year period. As Facilities Services becomes aware of compromised playground components, they will inform schools of foreseeable future concerns which may require replacement or removal.
3.4.4 If a structure is deemed unsafe by Facilities Services or the CSA Inspector and repairs are beyond the $1,000 threshold, the school will have one year to correct the problem before Facilities Services removes the structure. For the one year period the structure must be fenced off and posted unsafe for use.

3.5 School Responsibility regarding Safety

3.5.1 The Principal is responsible for assigning the appropriate supervision and for the safe use of the equipment by the students during the school day.
3.5.2 The Principal is responsible to review the annual third party inspection report and take corrective action (see section 3.3.4).
3.5.3 All staff members shall immediately report to the Principal any unsafe condition or equipment that needs repairs.
3.5.4 If repairs are required on a playground equipment component or structure, the Principal/Custodian will submit an e-base maintenance request.
3.5.5 Schools should not create their own play spaces without prior approval by Facilities Services. Even if these play spaces are approved, subsequent third party approval shall be obtained during the annual inspection (see section 3.1.1).
3.5.6 It should be noted that not all materials/components are acceptable by Facilities Services, such as tires, loose stumps, etc.
3.5.7 Due to the compromised conditions of safety surfacing in the winter months, it is strongly recommended that playgrounds not be used during the winter season.

3.6 Removal

3.6.1 Once purchased and installed on a Board site, playground equipment becomes the property of the Board, and as such Facilities Services will determine through inspections and standards when the equipment is unsafe for usage.
3.6.2 Playground equipment that is deemed unsafe beyond repair and not scheduled to be replaced shall be dismantled, removed and disposed of by Facilities Services.
3.6.3 Due to liability concerns, playground equipment that is deemed to be unsafe for students is not safe for anyone. No third party is allowed to purchase or receive equipment or components that are identified for disposal.
3.6.4 The Principal will communicate in a timely fashion regarding the permanent disposal, dismantle and removal of equipment to staff, school council, parents, trustee representative(s) and students.
Updated October 2020