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Built playgrounds: Minefields of potential child injuries

The safety of property in Ontario is the responsibility of the owners or occupiers. They are obliged to ensure that their premises are reasonably free of hazards or dangers that could cause harm to others. Business establishments, private homeowners and even municipal governments have such obligations. While slip-and-fall incidents make up a significant number of civil claims against property owners every year, other hazards could cause serious injuries.

Built playgrounds are examples of potentially hazardous areas at which equipment such as climbing bars, swings and slides all pose risks to children. Surfaces below the playground equipment should be covered with sand, wood chips, pea gravel, rubber mats or any other soft material instead of grass, gravel or dirt. All the equipment must be fitted with railings or other barriers to prevent children from falling, and they must have secure handrails.

Hazards to look out for include small spaces and other strangling risks that might trap a child’s neck or head. These include the spaces between railings and between the steps of slides or other elevated areas. Sharp edges and protruding bolts can cause serious injuries, as could garbage, broken glass and other sharp objects.

Parents in Ontario whose child suffered serious injuries at a playground on the property of someone else might be entitled to pursue financial relief through the civil justice system of the province. If a child is severely injured at a young age, he or she could suffer life-long consequences. Obtaining monetary recovery for past and future financial and emotional damages might be best left in the hands of an experienced premises liability lawyer.

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