Sunday, February 20, 2011

How to Become a Certified Playground Safety Inspector

The National Recreation and Parks Association has led the way toward safer playgrounds for the last two decades. In 1993, the association established the National Playground Safety Institute and soon thereafter began offering certification programs for parks and recreation professionals.

The "CPSI Candidate Handbook" establishes a code of professional conduct for inspectors and lists the course's main objectives:

• Identify hazards on public playground equipment and the playground.

• Rank the hazards according to injury potential.

• Apply the knowledge to remove the hazards and establish a system of inspections.

The organization has "a long-term goal of training and certifying at least one person from every community in the United States to be a CPSI," according to the NRPA website. "These inspectors will share their knowledge on the public-use playground standard of care with other people involved in playground operations within their agencies and throughout their community."

Training involves an optional two-day prep-course on information covered in the certification exam, which takes place on the third day and final day of the course schedule. Computer-based exams are also available.
Training centers are located in every region of the United States and offer sessions periodically throughout the year. There are no prerequisites to attending the course and taking the exam, and the examination fee is $200. Certification must be renewed every three years.

Test questions come from the following sources:

• The Consumer Product Safety Commission Handbook for Public Playground Safety

• The Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use (ASTM F1487-07)

• Standard Guide for ASTM Standards on Playground Surfacing (ASTM 2333-04)

• Playground Safety Is No Accident, 4th Edition

The first step toward CPSI status is to visit the NRPA's website and fill out the application.