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Playground safety in Pennsylvania questioned

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(The Center Square) – Parents may soon see standardization of playground equipment safety across the state.

This, after the House Children and Youth Committee approved legislation that would create a playground safety advisory council.

“Playgrounds are hubs of fun, where children and families can play and enjoy the outdoors, and communities can congregate and grow,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Roni Green, D-Philadelphia. “They play an important role in the development and long-term health of children. That’s why we must ensure that our playgrounds are safe.

The bill’s supporters point to an estimated 200,000 emergency room visits annually due to playground accidents. Approximately 15 children die from these injuries each year.

While there’s no clear method of enforcement for the rules it would establish, the advice of the council would provide guidance for both public spaces and private institutions where children play outside, excluding athletic fields and equipment.

The bill’s authors worked closely with the PA Recreation and Park Society to create a solution that would adequately address the “ever-changing landscape” of playground equipment, said Committee Chair Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Philadelphia, allowing for more flexibility than the legislative process alone may allow.

The bill was not without its detractors. Passing 20-5, Rep. Charity Krupa, R-Fayette, expressed concern that the council would create an unnecessary expansion of government. The council’s advice, she feared, could require updates to equipment that poorer municipalities would be unprepared to keep up with.

“A body of unelected officials are going to create a de facto standard,” said Krupa.

According to the bill’s language, the council would be made up of 25 members appointed by the governor representing parents, educators, manufacturers, local governments, and others with a vested interest in playground safety. Members would serve three-year terms.

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