To ensure the safety of children, signs and labels in playgrounds are crucial as they provide important information to adults. Some signs offer guidelines while others warn of hazardous areas where injuries are more likely to occur. There are also signs intended to educate users on rules and regulations. For maximum effectiveness, signs should be placed at the entrance to play areas or on equipment in a clear and visible location. In areas with multiple languages, multi-language signs can be very useful. Proper signage is critical in preventing playground misuse and injuries. Signs and labels should be durable, concise, and to the point. If a sign becomes vandalized or illegible, it is the owner/operator's responsibility to replace it.
Informative signs may include appropriate age for use, manufacturer identification, and supervision recommendations. Respecting signs listing the appropriate age for use can be particularly helpful in avoiding playground accidents. Inappropriate age use is a leading cause of playground injuries.
Warning signs may advise users to remove loose clothing, hoods, and drawstrings to prevent entanglement, caution against hot play surfaces, and advise carefulness around hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt to avoid injuries.
Educational signs like rules and general information inform users of open-close times, pet policies, and management contact and emergency numbers. These signs are especially recommended in public parks and playgrounds where children are often unsupervised.
With respect to the NZS5828:2015 standard, RPII and Playsafe recommend signage is in place in every play area and includes the following content:
Name of the playground.
Address of the playground.
General emergency telephone number.
Contact details for breakages/maintenance
Age group(s) Intended age
Rules of play
A ‘No Helmets’ note to be worn note.
Infographics strongly recommended (in place of do's and do-not's)
Equipment Intended age range.
Other relevant local information
The note around ‘no helmets’ is based on the purposes of protection against head and neck entrapment, the NZS5828 entrapment dimensions does not take into account children with an increased size of the head (e.g. hydrocephalus or Downs Syndrome) or wearing helmets.
It is recommended to avoid using a 'DO NOT' narrative on signs as this can result in reduced uptake of the information. Instead, an infographic approach to displaying do's, do-not's, and instructions can be more effective. Furthermore, signs should not feature wording like 'we do not accept liability for any injuries resulting from the use of this play area'. This type of statement may not protect a playground owner/operator in the event of an injury caused by a defect, wear/breakage, failure, or non-compliance. It is essential to ensure that the play area meets all safety standards and regulations, and signs should focus on informing users of safe practices rather than absolving liability from the owner/operator.