Program Profile: The Playground Maintenance Technician Program

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Playgrounds are spaces for children to engage in active play and healthy risk-taking; however, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 215,000 emergency room-related injuries occur on playgrounds every year. In order to improve playground safety by reducing the number and severity of injuries, the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, in collaboration with the Park District Risk Management Agency (PDRMA) of Illinois, offers the Playground Maintenance Technician (PMT) Program. The two-day, in-person program trains technicians to implement immediate actions for safety and risk management and builds skills necessary to effectively address safety concerns on playgrounds. Ultimately, the training increases playground safety and assists in reducing liability for park agencies, private entities, and other public agencies with playgrounds.

The PDRMA developed the Playground Maintenance Technician Program to complement the Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) program. Whereas the CPSI is an advanced-level program, the PMT serves as an entry-level program designed to provide knowledge to park maintenance staff who perform daily custodial maintenance of play spaces.

Participants in the PMT program receive the textbook Maintaining Child’s Play: A Comprehensive Guide for Maintaining Safe Playgrounds and an accompanying course workbook. The most unique component of the program is the virtual playground, which helps participants learn about common issues related to monitoring material degradation, maintaining playground surfaces, and understanding when to take equipment out of service. Much of the course revolves around the Playground Maintenance Diamond of Care, which encompasses four areas of playground maintenance: knowledge, inspection, corrective action, and documentation.

The Eppley Institute at Indiana University provides Planning and Operations, Training and Education, and Research and Analysis services to partners in recreation, park, and public land organizations The Eppley Institute partners with PMT host sites to manage program logistics. Interested hosts can visit the website www.playgroundmaintenance.org or contact the Program Manager, Sarah Murray, at pmt@eppley.org.