Planning PDF Print E-mail


Any play area available to the public, schools or care centres should be well designed. A well-planned play area is the best way to minimise injury risk in playgrounds. Seek professional design assistance with someone who is familiar with designing play environments for children.

Include all interested parties in preplanning to ensure that unnecessary hazards and expensive works to remedy hazards are avoided before construction. Any planning should involve the users themselves so don't forget to ask the children! Budget for purchase of good quality equipment as well as any ongoing maintenance costs.


Good planning also means that there is a system in place that can deal with problems as they arise. A system that reports on incidents and maintenance procedures needs to be established to ensure that the playground and surfacing is maintained to meet a level of safety that is affordable. Ensure that your playground safety management system complies with the relevant standards. 


Before allocating an area for play consider these points:

  • Shade provision
  • Ease of supervision
  • Areas which include water (ponds, lakes, rivers) are fenced and easily supervised
  • Future numbers of children using equipment
  • Anticipate the flow of play
  • Areas appropriately designed for specific age groups
  • Areas which cater for underdeveloped motor skills and restricted or impaired abilities
  • Access - for prams, bikes, children with disabilities and car parking, maintenance and emergency services
  • Utilise existing natural landforms - eg shade trees, gullies, slopes
  • Assess whether vandalism is a problem
  • All aspects of the site and layout comply with relevant Australian Standards
  • Identify drainage or contaminant problems (including poisonous plants) which may require work to remedy
  • Costs associated with any work involved to develop the site (underground services, clearing, drainage, shade provision etc)


Equipment should be complex enough to challenge the age group, however, much of the prefabricated modular equipment emphasises physical development. Do include structures that encourage social interaction as well as providing the opportunity to create other activities. Always select equipment that is the correct height and has an appropriate surface. Consider these points:

  • Excessive height
  • Equipment that is appropriate to the age groups, abilities and disabilities of the children
  • A variety of play activities
  • Structures should provide multiple activities (eg a large multi purpose deck versus a swing)
  • Whether it be added to or changed
  • Equipment should encourage social interaction and provide for group play and dramatic play
  • Make sure the level of maintenance for the equipment and surfaces is easily met
  • Durability
  • Evaluate the cost with the number and variety of activities (eg large multi-purpose deck, water pumps, slide, bridge, fire pole etc)


  • How long the manufacturer has been in business
  • Whether the manufacturer has installed equipment in your area
  • Warranties and/or guarantees and indemnity insurance the manufacturer offers and whether they are quality assured
  • Information on the manufacturer's and supplier's product liability and public liability insurance

The equipment manufacturer should provide:

  • Written confirmation that the equipment meets the current Australian/New Zealand Standards
  • Equipment which is appropriate to the ages and abilities of the children using it and possibly an indication of the level of supervision required
  • Measurements for the amount of space required for fall zones and/or shade structures, and soft fall surfacing requirements
  • Information on the suitability of the equipment to climatic conditions of your area
  • An inspection and maintenance schedule
  • A permanent label on the equipment, with manufacturer or distributor's name, address and date of manufacture
  • Information on quality of materials used (durability, coatings, resistance to deterioration or vandalism)
  • Information about consumables and spare parts availability and approximate cost



If you intend installing equipment yourself, obtain information regarding:

  • The delivery period
  • The space required for the equipment and fall zone
  • Whether a particular level of competence is required to install any components
  • Whether self-installation affects warranties and/or guarantees
  • Type of supervision/assistance provided by the manufacturer when installing the equipment
  • Checklist of all components supplied
  • Clear and concise assembly, erection and siting instructions (see AS/NZ 4486.1:1997)
  • Maintenance and inspection instructions
  • Whether a post-installation inspection will be carried out



Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 14:09