Safety concerns found in 6 playgrounds including Marsalforn
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Chris Said, Parliamentary Secretary for Consumers, Fair Competition, Local Councils and Public Dialogue, this morning addressed a training seminar intended for inspectors of playgrounds, carried out by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA).
Dr Said said that the “MCCAA has been inspecting public playgrounds in Malta and Gozo since last April. There are around 165 playgrounds managed by Local Councils and to date inspections have been carried out in 52 of these. Six playgrounds were found in an awful state. Recommendations for closure, or for equipment to be isolated, have been made.”
Inspection reports are sent to both the Local Councils concerned and the Department for Local Government. It is the responsibility of the Local Councils to follow on the recommendations in these reports. I am pleased to note that as a result of the inspections, a number of Local Councils are planning to upgrade their playgrounds.”
The six playgrounds in question are in Marsalforn, Luqa, Mtarfa, Paola and 2 in St Paul’s Bay.
Dr Said continued, “Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment provide fun, fresh air, and exercise. But they can also pose some safety hazards and in some unfortunate instances, a fun afternoon at the playground can come to an abrupt end if a child suffers a playground injury.
Faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behaviour are just a few of the hazards of playgrounds. Presently, we do not have statistics showing the number of accidents taking place in playgrounds however, I am sure that many of these could have been prevented with the proper supervision.
It was this concern that prompted my Government to embark on a project whereby all public playgrounds will undergo routine and a comprehensive annual inspection. The systematic program of ongoing inspection and maintenance of playgrounds and their equipment, which is already underway, will enable Local Councils to set priorities for repair and replacement of equipment and help maintain the surrounding area in a condition that will not compromise children’s safety.
In order that such routine and annual inspections will be carried out as professionally as possible, the Malta Standards Authority, which now forms part of the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, was asked to prepare a standard to be used as the point of reference for the management of playgrounds.
This is the first standard of its kind in Europe as other similar standards only cover specific equipment and not the management of playgrounds. The standard covers aspects from the designing of playgrounds to the inspection routines required for the upkeep of these playgrounds.
However, the safety of children on their playgrounds does not depend solely upon the initial design of the site and the selection of equipment. Its continued management and the provision of high quality inspection and maintenance programs are essential if safe opportunities for children to play creatively are to be preserved. We consider that all those involved in conducting routine and annual inspections of our playgrounds have to be trained and competent to ensure that those making use of the facilities do not get hurt.
In order for this to be achieved, the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority have engaged the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), a leading UK and international training provider, to conduct a series of courses to both MCCAA inspectors as well as those identified by Local Councils to be responsible for the daily routine checks of the site.
Our children deserve the best; it is our duty to provide them with open spaces and recreational areas for their physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development. It is also our duty to ensure that these activities are carried out in a safe environment. I would like to thank MCCAA for this initiative and ROSPA for providing the training,” Dr Said concluded.