Michael Alsup

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

William Kummer, Elmer Gray, Alton Little

Degree Program

Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport

Degree Type

Master of Science


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's A Handbook For Public Playground Safety was published in 1981 in response to a petition to develop a mandatory set of safety standards. The National Recreation and Park Association and the National Bureau of Standards were selected to work on the project. As the study developed, the Commission realized that a set of standards was needed instead of mandatory requirements.

Because there has not been any improvement in injury statistics nation-wide to date, the purpose of this study was to determine the degree of utilization of the guidelines in Tennessee. This was seen as being important to public agencies due to the liability of operating playgrounds and the rising expense of judgments against agencies in lawsuits.

A survey instrument was developed, with the aid of a jury of experts, to serve as the data gathering tool. It was mailed to ninety-four city and county departments in Tennessee. The survey included questions concerning the possession of the Handbook, inspections and maintenance, playground design, ground surfaces, and playground equipment. It was analyzed by tabulating percentages, simple frequencies, and numerical ranking.

Surveys were completed and returned by sixty-four departments; only half responded that they had copies of Handbook. The tabulations indicated that all of those who were familiar with the Handbook reported that they believed utilizing them would reduce injuries. The majority of those responding to the survey indicated that the guidelines were being followed and that inspections and maintenance were being conducted regularly. Moreover, the tabulations indicated that the types and placement of equipment were usually within the guidelines.

The researcher, based on the findings of the study, the recommended: all departments should obtain a copy of the Handbook and use it as a guide for any aspect of their playgrounds; documentation and inspection of playgrounds should be carried out at least weekly by employees who are assigned to the task and trained; any playgrounds that do not conform to the guidelines should be renovated or removed: and ground surfaces should be used in recommended depths to aid in cushioning falls.


Consumer Protection Law | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Urban Studies