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Senate Bill 627 (Enrolled)
Topic: Playground Safety
Position: The Department of Consumer and Industry Services supports the bill.
Background: In 1993 the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) published "Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specifications for Playground Equipment for Public Use" (F1487-93). The standard was reprinted in 1995 and 1998 and was revised in 2001 with a new designation (F1487-01). The standard establishes minimum acceptable performance specifications for all playground equipment issues, including swings and surfacing.
The Playground Equipment Safety Act was enacted in 1997 in response to a tragic accident near Ann Arbor in which a child was strangled when the drawstring on her coat snagged on a playground slide. Senator Hammerstrom sponsored the original bill when she was a State representative and has seen at least one subsequent bill enacted to change the referenced standard.
Bill Content: The bill adopts the newest standard relating to playground equipment published by the American Society for Testing and Materials. A House substitute that would have required the Department of Consumer and Industry Services to officially take notice of future revisions of the standard and promulgate rules was considered in committee but not adopted. The House ultimately passed the Senate version without amendment.
Arguments For: The Playground Equipment Safety Act has had a very positive affect on playground safety in Michigan. Outdated playground equipment is gradually being replaced by safer, modern equipment. Outdated equipment can be extremely dangerous. Before the 1990's heavy metal animal swings were commonplace on playgrounds. These swings unfortunately acted as lethal battering rams, sometimes killing children who walked in front of them. Some older equipment posed significant strangulation risk. A child in the Ann Arbor area was killed in the mid-1990's when her drawstring became entangled in a small niche in a playground slide.
The International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association notes that over 200,000 children are injured each year because their playgrounds don't meet current safety standards. This bill will not prevent all playground accidents, but it will help reduce the number and severity of such accidents.
Michigan's playgrounds need improvement. The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) at the University of Northern Iowa recently completed a two-year study of the playground safety. The study examined 23 criteria within four overall areas, including supervision, age appropriateness, fall surfacing, and equipment maintenance. The average grade nationwide was a C. Michigan playgrounds received a D-. Michigan received a failing grade in the areas of fall surfacing and equipment maintenance.
Arguments Against: Adopting the new standard will have little practical affect on playground safety in Michigan. Operators of public playgrounds are not required by the act to replace equipment. Michigan's equipment is generally more modern than in other states. According to the NPPS study, Michigan has a lower percentage of pre-1980 equipment and a substantially higher proportion of equipment installed during the period 1981-90 than the national average.
Supporters/Opponents: No information is available on supporters or opponents.
Fiscal Impact: The bill will have no fiscal impact.
Administrative Rules Impact: The bill will not require new or revised administrative rules.
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