Crush or shear hazards could cause the user to have the following injuries: “…contusion, laceration, abrasion, amputation or fracture during the use of playground equipment.”1 Crush and shear hazards should not be accessible to children using a playground.
Crush and shear hazards are points found in places where parts move against each other or a fixed part. Examples of this type of movement are found in fulcrum see-saws, suspension bridges, track rides, swings, whirls, and roller slides.
If there is a gap where a child could get a body part entrapped in a crush or shear point and there is a closing force around the point, it becomes a crush or shear hazard.2 These gaps could be the result of normal wear and tear or incorrect installation.
Places where two fixed parts separate through wear and tear or lack of maintenance can also create points where a crush or shear injury could take place. A missing bolt can allow two fixed parts to separate and the resulting opening can become a hazard.
Regular inspection by trained personnel and alert supervision are necessary to identify and guard against these hazards. Dowels of 3/16”, 5/16”, and 5/8” and an articulated finger probe are the tools recommended to a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) to inspect for crush and shear hazards.
Playground inspectors and supervisors also look for possible pinch hazards in play equipment. These are also small openings associated with moving equipment where there is a closing force but the result is not as serious as a crush or shear hazard.