The National Recreation and Park Association's Role and Relationship to the Certified Playground Safety Inspector Course and the International Playground Safety Institute, LLC (an independent contractor to the NRPA)

In 1989 a group of National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) members of its National Society for Park Resources branch met to discuss the feasibility of creating a playground safety-training program to compliment the playground safety standards and guideline efforts of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

In 1991, NRPA conducted the first National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) Program at their National Congress in Baltimore, Maryland. Since then the NPSI has conducted over 500 Institutes training more than 35,000 course participants. Now, twenty years later, the Institute is a sound internationally recognized program with a national registry of over 7,500 Certified Playground Safety Inspectors.

The NPSI Program was administered according to the By Laws of the NRPA and was controlled by the NRPA with guidance from its NPSI Executive Board. The NRPA Executive Director appointed the NPSI Executive Board which functioned according to the NRPA and NPSI Memorandum of Understanding signed May 22, 1993.

From that date on the National Playground Safety Institute was officially recognized as a standing committee of the National Park and Recreation Association as a national clearinghouse and information resource specializing in public use playground issues. The NPSI Board was dissolved as part of the NRPA governance restructuring plan and the NRPA Staff took over all day to day operation and long range planning for all playground and playground safety issues related to its membership. The operation of the CPSI Program is administered through the activities of four CPSI Program Committees; Certification, Exam, Curriculum, and Instructor.

The International Playground Safety Institute, LLC was independently created and incorporated to facilitate the CPSI Course and Exam at all international venues. IPSI, LLC is an independent contractor to NRPA and is under contract to the NRPA to facilitate and administer the CPSI Course and Exam on the NRPA's behalf.

In furtherance of the NRPA's mission and goals the CPSI Program and International Playground Safety Institute, LLC shall;

  • Promote the latest public playground industry standards and guidelines as the most desirable standard of care for public use playgrounds.
  • Promote the rights of children to play in a safe environment and educate the public on the importance of play in the development of children.
  • Develop and maintain a voluntary certification program for anyone responsible for public use playground operations including; design, installation, maintenance, inspection, and supervision of playgrounds.
  • Establish and maintain a comprehensive body of knowledge on public use playgrounds.
  • Provide a framework for the development of a comprehensive public use playground operations and safety program based on the most current public use playground safety standard of care.
  • Provide input to help develop responsible public policy for the guaranteed safety of our children while at the same time advocates sound fiscal responsibility to provide resources for the ongoing maintenance and support of the policy.

Mission Statement of the Certified Playground Safety Inspector Course
"It is the mission of the National Recreation and Park Association's CPSI Course to teach our public how to provide a safe challenging play environment for all children."

Therefore the CPSI Course shall,

  • Promote children's rights to play in a safe environment.
  • Promote nationally the importance play has in a child's development.
  • Promote the latest public playground industry standards and guidelines as the most desirable standard of care for public use playgrounds.

CPSI Course Vision Statement
In order to accomplish this mission we must all be able to identify a safe challenging play environment by:

  • Promoting an understanding of the current standard of care that effects the playground environment.
  • Develop training that promotes and combines knowledge and experience in identifying and eliminating non-compliant safety concerns in the playground environment.
  • And, provide materials and resources that when coupled with knowledge and experience in eliminating safety hazards in the playground environment will enable playground providers to establish a comprehensive program of playground management.

This is no easy task. For over two decades everyone involved in the delivery of the CPSI Courses have continuously worked to provide the most current information available to facilitate our mission. The NRPA developes and administers the Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) Course and Exam to assist NRPA in attaining their Missions in accordance with their By-Laws and the CPSI Professional Code of Practice for all Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI).

Certified Playground Safety Inspector
Code of Professional Conduct

This code sets forth the standards of professional conduct to be observed by CPSIs upon confirmation by the NCB as they act in the capacity of that certification.   Individuals shall, in their professional activities, sustain and advance the integrity, honor and veracity of their certification by:

  • holding the safety of playground users paramount in all professional services;
  • utilizing the most current standards of care (as delineated by the American Society for Testing and Materials Standards on Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Public Use, Playground surfacing, and Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specifications for Public Use Play Equipment for Children 6 months through 23 months, as well as the US Consumer Product Safety Commissions Public Playground Safety Handbook);
  • maintaining currency and competency in playground safety inspection procedures including use of testing tools and knowledge of current safety criteria;
  • identifying and documenting all situations which are in non-compliance with the standards of care along with the citation of the specific reference portion of the criterion document, using a standard playground safety inspection process;
  • prioritizing all identified non-compliances according to a standard norm of foreseeable consequences;
  • advising employers or clients of seriously dangerous conditions in the most prompt manner as well as part of a written report, omitting no adverse findings from the official documentation of the safety inspection;
  • never conducting a safety audit or inspection without the knowledge and consent of the playground owner;
  • never contradicting the findings of another CPSI without first consulting directly with the first Inspector regarding the basis for these findings;
  • never conducting a safety audit of a playground with the intent to discredit an owner or manufacturer or to promote sale of other equipment or products; and
  • never providing findings of an inspection to anyone other than the playground owner unless authorized by the owner to do so.

Individuals failing to practice these professional standards shall be subject to loss of professional certification upon a negative finding by a review process and enforcement procedures established by the Executive Committee of the Certified Playground Safety Inspector Certification Committee.