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Inj Prev. 2003 Sep;9(3):210-3.

Injury and frequency of use of playground equipment in public schools and parks in Brisbane, Australia.

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Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency of use of play equipment in public schools and parks in Brisbane, Australia, and to estimate an annual rate of injury per use of equipment, overall and for particular types of equipment.


Injury data on all children injured from playground equipment and seeking medical attention at the emergency department of either of the two children's hospitals in the City of Brisbane were obtained for the years 1996 and 1997. Children were observed at play on five different pieces of play equipment in a random sample of 16 parks and 16 schools in the City of Brisbane. Children injured in the 16 parks and schools were counted, and rates of injury and use were calculated.


The ranked order for equipment use in the 16 schools was climbing equipment (3762 uses), horizontal ladders (2309 uses), and slides (856 uses). Each horizontal ladder was used 2.6 times more often than each piece of climbing equipment. Each horizontal ladder was used 7.8 times more than each piece of climbing equipment in the sample of public parks. Slides were used 4.6 times more than climbing equipment in parks and 1.2 times more in public schools. The annual injury rate for the 16 schools and 16 parks under observation was 0.59/100 000 and 0.26/100 000 uses of equipment, respectively.


This study shows that annual number of injuries per standardized number of uses could be used to determine the relative risk of particular pieces of playground equipment. The low overall rate of injuries/100 000 uses of equipment in this study suggests that the benefit of further reduction of injury in this community may be marginal and outweigh the economic costs in addition to reducing challenging play opportunities.

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