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CPSC Invites Public To Develop Safety Regulation For Public Playground Equipment

Release Date: March 07, 1975

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today invited any interested person or group to offer to develop safety specifications for public playground equipment. Such specifications could then be used as the basis of a mandatory Federal regulation under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.

The Commission also invited any person or group to submit an existing safety standard for Commission consideration.

Public playground equipment includes swings, slides, seesaws, gliders, rings, trapezes and monkey bars, merry-go-rounds, climbing apparatus and other equipment that is used in such places as parks, schools, institutions, housing developments, and private recreational facilities.

The surfaces upon which the equipment is installed also fall within the Commission's working definition of public playground equipment.

Public playground equipment was associated with an estimated 55,000 injuries that required hospital emergency room treatment in 1973.

Hazards related to serious injuries and deaths that must be addressed in a proposed regulation that will insure the safety, durability and structural integrity of all components include unshielded protrusions and sharp points, open-ended hooks such as "S-hooks," sharp edges and rough surfaces, enclosed openings, pinch points and crush points, and the hazard of children falling from the equipment and striking non-energy absorbing surfaces.

The Commission action came in response to playground injury and hazard information and to two petitions. Elayne Butwinick, Washington, D.C., asked the Commission on April 18, 1974, to develop a safety standard for public playground equipment and surfaces. A second petition was filed on May 24, 1974, by Theodora Sweeney, on behalf of an ad hoc Playground Committee of the Coventry School PTA, Cleveland Heights, Ohio. As products intended for use by children, public playground equipment is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act as amended. In developing a safety regulation, however, the Commission decided to utilize procedures similar to those followed for products under the Consumer Product Safety Act.

According to a Commission spokesman, the offeror procedures provide wide opportunities for participation in development activities by all interested persons -- industry, trade associations, technical experts, and consumers; and, therefore, can lead to safety requirements that will eliminate or reduce unreasonable risks of injury.

Existing standards and offers must be submitted by April 7, 1975, to the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1750 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20207. Copies of the March 7 Federal Register invitation and injury and hazard data are available from the Office of the Secretary.

The Commission may agree to contribute to the cost of developing a proposed regulation or to cover consumer participation, but the Commission anticipates that the bulk of the offeror's work would be done by volunteers or funded by non-Commission sources.

The development period will end 120 days after the offeror is chosen although the Commission may extend the time period for good cause.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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