Injury rates decrease at Toronto school playgrounds due to safer equipment: Study

05/19/05

TORONTO – Research at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) shows that playground injuries among children were significantly reduced after the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) removed hazardous equipment from school playgrounds in 2000 and replaced it with safer equipment. This research is reported in the May 24, 2005 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study looked at data from 86 elementary schools before and after the playground equipment was replaced in 2001. The results indicate that injuries were reduced by almost half (49 per cent) after playgrounds were refitted with equipment compliant with the safety standards set by the Canadian Standards Association. In 2002, the year following the replacement of new equipment, 550 injuries were prevented.

"Playground safety is of great concern as it is the leading cause of injury-related hospital admission after traffic injuries," says Dr. Andrew Howard, the study's lead author, a staff orthopaedic surgeon, co-director of the Trauma Program and a scientist at Sick Kids, and an associate professor of Surgery and Health Policy, Management & Evaluation, University of Toronto. "This research shows that removal and replacement of unsafe equipment is an effective strategy for preventing playground injuries among children and a useful tool for schools and municipalities who are responsible for playgrounds."

Sick Kids collaborated with the TDSB to study elementary school playground injury rates after finding that no published data previously existed on the relationship between equipment standards and injury rates. The TDSB's removal of unsafe equipment was prompted by changes to the Canadian Standards Association guidelines for design, installation and maintenance of playgrounds in 1998.

"This study emphasizes the TDSB's commitment to safe, clean and healthy environments for students, staff and the community," says Sheila Penny, executive superintendent, Facility Services, TDSB. "It is important for us to see the tangible, positive results our facility upgrades have had on safety and injury prevention in our schoolyards."

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