Certified Playground Safety Inspector

Certified Playground Safety Inspector

A Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) has passed the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI)'s examination. The ASTM International (ASTM) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are the safety standards used for this test. NRPA began the Safety Institute examinations in 1991 to promote the latest public playground industry standards and guidelines.

The CPSI usually takes the two day NPSI course, which teaches how to use the ASTM 1487 and CPSC guidelines; how to identify playground hazards, such as entrapments and protrusions; how to address age appropriate and site planning concerns; how to analyze design and layout issues; and how to establish a playground safety program. This type of safety program would encompass playground maintenance plans, risk management concerns, regular inspections and audits, teaching safety awareness, and maintaining documentation.

Participants also study the different surfacing materials and learn of impact attenuation, head injury criteria, critical heights, fall heights, and use zones. The Americans with Disabilities (ADA) accessibility guidelines as set forth by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ADAAG) are covered as well.

Originally, the CPSI course materials included Play it Safe – An Anthology of Playground Safety, Points About Playgrounds, CPSC Guidelines, ASTM 1487, Playground Safety is No Accident, and a course manual. In 2005 NPSI completed a comprehensive course manual called “Certification Course for Playground Safety Inspectors Manual.”  While it is possible to self-study the course, NPSI strongly encourages all applicants to take the two day course by industry experts.

The third day of the NRPA NPSI course is for hands-on testing of the student’s mastery of these safety concepts. Successful completion means that he is a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) for three years. In the first decade alone, NPSI certified over 10,000 playground safety inspectors world-wide. This massive surge of safety training has brought the CPSC, ASTM, and ADA guidelines and requirements out of the academia arena and into the daily public realities. Today schools, parks, and municipalities are learning to apply these standards.

After three years, the CPSI Certification can be renewed by passing the current CPSI examination, which is available on the third day of class at an institute or by the computer-based examination through NRPA. NPSI maintains a current list of Certified Inspectors on their website for the industry.1 Being a CPSI does not guarantee professional expertise; the certification solely indicates that they have a working knowledge of the current safety standards for playgrounds.

In 2001, NPSI adopted the CPSI's Professional Code of Practice to establish a written code of excellence for all Certified Playground Safety Inspectors. Violations of this Code, after a review process by the Executive Committee of NPSI, can mean a loss of certification.

  • 1. “Certified Playground Safety Inspector Program.” National Recreation and Park Association. < http://www.nrpa.org/Content.aspx?id=3530 > 12 Aug. 2010.