Risk aversion and the Consumer Product Safety Commission's effect on American playground design
Mikus, Shannon Jerome
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The research proposes that the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) playground safety recommendations confuse the meaning of “risk” and “danger”, perpetuating a risk averse attitude toward play that negatively impacts play value. CPSC recommendations are the most widely accepted standards used in playground litigation cases. Litigation profoundly affected how risk is incorporated in playgrounds. The data set consists of legal findings, actor’s public and official statements, news and journal articles, and photographs of representative, manufactured playground apparatuses. Legal findings regarding playground injury liability are compared to changing playground apparatus features by decade. Over time, the changing play value of representative apparatuses is compared. A chain of causality between the threat of litigation and reduced play value over time is implied. Legally accepted standards for safety force actors to undervalue or even prohibit play to avoid expensive litigation. Properly redefining “risk” and “danger” will enhance the function of American playgrounds.
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