Children Will Fall At Playgrounds. What Shall We Do To Protect Them? A Multipart Blog Series – Part I

Author

Jeff_Warren_WEB

Expertise Includes:

    • Machine Design and Safeguarding
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Risk Assessment
    • Safety
Co-Authored with Aron Olson, PE   

In 2011, a 5-year old boy was severely injured at a public playground when he fell through a second floor opening around a fireman’s pole in a playhouse. He fell more than seven feet and struck a bare concrete floor. We are thankful that he eventually recovered from his injuries. The person who designed and built the playground was accused of negligence. A lawsuit ensued, and eventually settled in favor of the boy.

The young boy’s severe injuries occurred during a party at the playground for the children. The boy entered the second level of the playhouse. His mother heard a scream she recognized as her son’s, entered the lower level of the playhouse, and found her son injured and in pain. The boy was bleeding from his mouth and complaining of leg pain. An ambulance was summoned and the boy was taken to a hospital.

IMG_6746

The Playground

We at The Warren Group were asked to analyze the fireman’s pole, the playhouse and the concrete floor to determine if they complied with applicable minimum safety standards for public playgrounds, and to determine if a defect in the design or construction of the playhouse, the fireman’s pole and the concrete floor was a cause of the boy’s injuries. We discovered that the play equipment did not meet applicable minimum safety standards for public playgrounds, was defective, and was a cause of the boy’s injuries.

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The fireman’s pole. The child fell over 7 ft to the concrete floor below.

This is the first in a multipart blog series examining the incident, the safety standards for public playgrounds and the technology available to make public playgrounds reasonably safe for children. We hope you find the information in our upcoming posts useful, and we encourage you to contact Dr. Warren if you encounter a case involving an injury at a public playground.

Jeffery H. Warren, PhD, PE, CSP, is the chief engineer and CEO at Warren specializing in mechanical, machine design and safety.  His deep expertise in machine design and safety analysis makes him a frequent presenter, trainer and expert witness. In addition to investigating more than 2000 claims involving property damage and injuries related to machinery and equipment since 1987, Jeff has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of North Carolina as well as a Master of Science and a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — both with machine design emphasis.

Aron Olson, PE, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Packaging Science from Clemson University.  His areas of emphasis are machine safeguarding, machinery analysis and three dimensional imaging. Aron has over six years’ experience as a product designer in the gas turbine and medical device industries.  This experience includes implementing safety features such as lock out/tag out features and interlock devices into manufacturing machinery.  Aron is experienced with collecting and processing three dimension images of machinery, building interiors and exteriors including structural collapse scenes, fire scenes, vehicles and other scenes and objects related to the forensic analysis of personal injury and property claims.  A skilled user of SolidWorks and other computer aided design software, he brings his insight into the design process to the world of forensic engineering.

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