PETALING JAYA: There is an urgent need for all local authorities to be proactive and adopt an accident-prevention culture to help ensure the safety of children's playgrounds under their jurisdiction, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).
The social activist said the authorities should not wait until someone, especially a child, was injured before taking action.
"We should not forget the freak accident on Nov 24, 2018, where a 15-year-old girl died when her head was trapped on a swing for disabled and wheelchair users at a playground in Kepong.
"We must always be proactive and not reactive when dealing with any matter that can give rise to accidents or injuries due to negligence or poor maintenance," he said in a statement on Sunday (May 12).
Although children's playgrounds are supposed to be a safe place, safety issues have become a main concern where 530 cases of playground-related accidents were reported between 2014 and 2016, he added.
"Among others, it was reported that children were injured by broken playground equipment or when they fell due to uneven surfaces.
"Public Complaints Bureau has also revealed that the local authorities received 11,231 complaints regarding playgrounds between 2015 and 2016," Lee said.
Recently, he said there have been calls for the Standards of Playground Safety Guidelines, which was introduced in 2017, to be made mandatory when planning, designing, building and managing playgrounds.
"Those involved in designing and constructing such facilities should also follow the specifications of certified playgrounds developed according to the new Malaysian Standards (MS) requirement, which will be unveiled soon.
"Four playgrounds are currently being assessed, improved and developed to comply with the MS 966 Playground equipment and MS 2665 Playground Surfacing," he said.
Department of Standards Malaysia director-general Datuk Fadilah Baharin was also quoted as saying that the projects would encourage more local authorities to use MS 966 and MS 2665 as key references in the planning, development and maintenance of playgrounds, Lee added.
"Eventually, it would provide more factual and evidence-based outcomes to position playground safety as a national agenda in the future.
"The Street, Drainage & Building Act 1974 (Act 133) and Uniform Building Bylaw 1984 should also be amended so that the safety of playgrounds be included as an additional criteria for the issuance of the Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC)," he suggested.
Lee also called for a thorough safety audit that should be done annually on all public playgrounds nationwide to help identify the problems on the ground and take necessary actions to avoid mishaps.
"Local authorities, with the help of agencies which have the expertise, should carry out the audit and engage certified playground safety inspectors (CPSI) to work with contractors in the installation and maintenance of playgrounds under their jurisdiction.
"The community, particularly parents, must also play their role to help ensure the safety of their children while on playgrounds. Parents must always supervise their children when playing with the equipment while the public must immediately lodge a report if they see any problem that could endanger users at a playground," he said.
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