The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) posted a recall notice on December 7, 2016 for stainless steel playground slides that were manufactured and distributed by Playworld Systems, Inc. of Lewisburg, PA (Horizon Industries of Columbia, PA). The dangerous playground slides were manufactured between November 2000 and October 2016 and were distributed to parks, school, and municipalities during that timeframe.
Two Finger Amputations to Children Reported
A manufacturing defect in these slides causes the bottom floor of the slide to separate from the sides as it appears to have been spot welded. As in the photograph above provided by the CSPC, a gap is exposed and creates a sharp surface that cuts like a knife as the child goes down the slide. There are a total of 13 slides reported with broken welds. Two children were reported to have sustained finger amputations as a result of these conditions. The company suggests that use of the slides should be immediately discontinued and to contact Playworld for a free replacement, including free installation.
Welded Slides May Not be the Best Choice
For anyone who has a welded stainless steel playground slide, they may want to consider whether they even want another welded slide. The problem with these slides is that the spot welds came undone after expansion and contraction in the weather. Stainless steel gets very hot in the summers, especially in southern states such as Florida. The weld issue aside, an open stainless steel slide exposed to the hot summer sun creates a significant risk of a burn hazard as the child goes down the slide. This same property of absorbing heat is what causes the expansion and contraction for the spot welds to fail.
The bigger problem though is that there may not truly be a safe way to make a stainless steel playground slide. On one hand, these slides are welded so that the floor sits underneath a bend in the metal siderail. This eliminates a sharp edge on the outside of the slide (which is important for playground equipment). On the other hand, that still creates a potentially sharp surface on the inside of the slide that can injury.
Plastic Playground Equipment Is Recommended for Safety
Playground equipment made of plastic can be made to where the entire slide is one piece for an open slide. Enclosed slides made of plastic are made with exterior bolt on joints. These options are the safest way to go. Any and all sharp edges on playground equipment should be eliminated. Likewise, products that include manufacturing techniques such as spot welding should probably not be used on playgrounds.
An Injury to a Child is Life-Changing
What is supposed to be a day of turn can turn into horror and a life scarring event for both parent and child when a child becomes injured. The guilt and anguish to both a parent and child over a finger amputation is tremendous. As a parent, it is our duty to ensure that our children are safe at all times. The dangers on the playground may not be obvious and, after an injury, a parent will frequently never forgive themselves for allowing an injury to their child. This is true even when the parent had no way of knowing the danger and even if the child has completely forgiven. The child also feels like they did something wrong to get hurt when they did not. The parent dreads the day that the child becomes old enough to ask about what happened to them and why it happened.
The Pain is Real for Those Who Experience It
The pain that a family can feel, even over a finger or fingertip, can be very significant. The mentality behind these cases should not be what is a finger or fingertip worth. Instead, the right mentality should be how the dangers can be eliminated. If the manufacturers know that the legal liability for a fingertip is small, then they have very little incentive to change the way that they do business. On the other hand, if the full value of the case is appreciated in courtrooms across the country, then the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of these products will take notice of the cost to them and will fix the problem at its root.
Recall Number 17-718, United States Consumer Product Safety Commission
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At Russo Law, we help those families who have suffered an injury to a child on a playground. The claim may sound in product liability or in premises liability. As such, property owners have a legal duty to inspect their property for things that can cause injury. Playground equipment is owned by public entities, daycares, child care centers, and private schools alike. If your child suffered an injury on a playground, please contact a Lakeland daycare accident attorney for a free case review. We can help you find the parties responsible and hold them legally accountable. In addition, doing so will help prevent injuries to other children.