Playground Safety Institute

                                                      Because it matters
    Safety and Risk
Management Services

                                                                   About us

The Playground Safety Institute was established in 2008 to address the serious injuries and death of children on playgrounds and Playground Equipment in South Africa.

The South African Bureau of Standards formed a technical committee TC 1090 to develop playground safety standards for South Africa. Myles Wittstock from the Playground Safety Institute was elected as the chairperson for the TC 1090. The playground safety standards were published in 2011.

Playground and playground equipment safety standards have been developed on an international scale as a result of concerned parents and child care providers as early as 1974 and in some countries even earlier. South Africa must align itself with the rest of the International community in order to commit to providing a safer environment for children.

The playground and playground equipment are the most high risk areas in a child care facility for injury and death. Special attention and implementation of safety standards to these areas will reduce the risks of serious injury and death.

All  child care providers have a legal "duty of care" to ensure the safety of children in their care. Failure to fulfill this "duty of care" can result in fines, loss of care facility license and imprisonment for the owner and staff of the facility. The safety standards are considered as a "minimum standard of care" in a court of law.

There are many government and local government laws/bylaws,acts and regulations for the safety of children in their environment. Most of them cover the following:

  • Child to staff ratios
  • Staff training in Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation and First Aid
  • Staff Training in Fire Fighting or Extinguisher Handling
  • Appointment of safety representatives, safety meetings
  • Policies to address  - emergencies, Illness, child behaviour, playground supervision, playground equipment maintenance, safety audits,handling of incidence of bleeding.
  • Medication administration
  • Indoor and outdoor space requirements, water hazards, locks, fire extinguishers, first aid equipment requirements, fire exits.
  • Dangerous structures
  • Transport issues - child restraints, parent permission etc.
  • Sanitation and health standards - pest control, hand washing, diapers,waste removal etc


The following are the aims of the Playground Safety Institute:

  • Promote awareness of the South African National Standard for playground and playground equipment safety
  • Assist all stakeholders in implementation of the playground safety standards SANS 51177 and SANS 51176 including the safety standards for inflatable amusement rides and devices SANS 54960.
  • Provide training for the playground safety standards and inflatable amusement rides or devices standards.
  • Provide training and registration of all playground safety inspectors in South Africa
  • Provide training for inflatable operators and manufacturers of inflatable amusement rides in  South Africa.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of the safety standards through data gathering.
  • Monitor current national and international trends and industry standards in playground equipment design and manufacture and to provide feedback to all stakeholders.
                                            Implementation of Safety Standards

The implementation of the standards can be done in two phases.

Phase One -

The South African National Standard SANS 51176 - part 1 and part 7 are to be implemented as from immediate effect. Part 1  of the standard is for the general safety requirements and test methods of playgrounds and playground equipment. Part 7 is for the guidance, installation, inspection, maintenance and operation of playground equipment.

The South African National Standard SANS 51177 - Impact attenuating playground surfacing - Determination of critical fall height must also be implemented as from immediate effect. Safety surfacing or impact surface must be installed round all playground equipment according to the Safety Standard SANS 51177. This is the most important safety feature for playgrounds as impact surfacing absorbs the impact a a child falling from playground equipment preventing serious head injury and death.

Phase Two - Expected Period 2 Years

Existing non complaint playground and playground equipment must be upgraded or modified immediately to comply with the playground safety standard SANS 51176 and SANS 51177. Playground equipment which does not comply with the Safety Standard and has no means of been modified or upgraded must be phased out over the next 2 years. Owners of playground equipment take full responsibility and accountability for any injuries and deaths which occur on non-complaint equipment or equipment which cannot be upgraded or modified. There is a high risk of litigation if children are allowed to play on playground equipment which is not complaint with the SANS 51176 and SANS 51177 safety standards.

The Playground Safety Institute can assist to achieve compliance with the safety standards.

Please ensure that your playground safety inspector is registered and certified through the Playground Safety Institute.

Police clearance is required to be able to work in the environment of children. All the inspectors registered with the Playground Safety Institute have been screened and cleared.

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