5 Ways To Avoid Breaching Your Insurance As A Landscape Architect, Builder, or Open Space Manager
It is common knowledge that we all need insurance, but navigating the dos and don'ts of compliance (and maintaining compliance) can be a minefield. With our experience of over 35 years in the play and open space industry, these are the top 5 most common breaches, and how to avoid them!
Any supplier suggesting the below are not required, or "optional", is a BIG RED FLAG 🚩.
Top 5 Most Common Insurance Breaches
1. Insurance Scope
The single most important part of any insurance is scope. Much like car insurance, if the insurer is not advised a turbo has been added to the car, they won't cover a claim.
Open Space and in particular Playgrounds, Schools and Childcare are exactly the same. Suppliers MUST have specific services noted in their insurances, or any claims will be voided for lack of disclosure.
For example, a Playground Certifier must have the specific wording "Playground Certification" in the Professional Business or Business Activities section of the insurance document.
2. Not Checking Certificates
Most products or assets within open spaces come with paperwork, for example; a playground swing comes with a certificate to the current version of AS 4685, which is the playground code.
Unfortunately, all too often the basic checks are not performed on the paperwork. Is the document current if it has an expiry? Is it listing the correct standard? and critically, is it signed by someone capable of issuing such a certificate?
For playground equipment, this would be an Engineer experienced in Play. For electrical items, an Electrical Engineer and so on.
TIP: Always look for CPEng below the name, to ensure your certificates are signed by a Chartered Professional Engineer, and depending on the state, one capable of certifying in the specific location. i.e. RPEQ in Queensland.
Failure to check certificates is a breach of basic duty of care as a purchaser or designer, and can result in denial of cover by an insurer!
3. Not Engaging A Certifier
Many open space assets require a certifier, the most overlooked of which are playgrounds and childcare yards. Gone are the days of "it'll be alright", be sure to check and make sure a certifier has been engaged for your project.
Playgrounds require certification and impact testing upon completion of rubber surfaces, and the same applies to childcare yards on upgrade or commissioning.
This MUST be independent of an installer or supplier and should be accounted for in any project cost. Good suppliers will offer this upfront as part of their project scope and quote. With no industry watchdog for open space - be on the lookout for any that don't, as it's a sign there might be other hidden issues!
4. Not Undertaking Regular Inspections
Open Spaces require regular inspection. Asset owners and operators are required to undertake inspections as below;
Routinely (Daily/Weekly) or more often for educational facilities,
Operationally (Month, Quarter, Term)
Comprehensive (Annually) Whole of park/facility in-depth risk management and asset condition assessment) and;
Annual Specialist inspections (Annually) This could be Electrical, Structural, Play, Smoke Alarm, or other pertinent assets that require a specialist. Importantly these should always be external and independent.
Failure to do so is a breach, because the owner/operator is not following requirements of relevant Australian standards, duty of care and best practice as well as either Safe Work legislation; or the Local Government Act as appropriate.
5. Failing To Keep Up-to-date
Whilst projects must comply to relevant active standards at the time of Practical Completion, it is commonly believed that most standards are not retrospective - That new standards do not apply to older sites, facilities or equipment.
This is not entirely true. Asset owners and Operators must ensure risk management is undertaken, and any risk medium or above identified by new standards should be mitigated within a reasonable period of time.
Importantly for playspaces, Educational and Commercial Operators must maintain compliance within licensing periods (or yearly for commercial operators)
Failure to take "Due Care" is a breach of insurance requirements, and can result in denial of claims under the "Negligence" clause in most insurance documents.
Staying on top of what is required can be a hassle, which is why we make it easy for our clients with regular advisories.
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We spend hundreds of hours a year crafting advisories when things change, and our clients receive these each quarter.
For the first time, we are making them available for download for free.
Add your details below to receive two free advisories, (Play and Childcare Compliance) and sign up to our mailing list for quarterly updates.
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Without an industry watchdog, thousands of children are injured each year needlessly. We’re working to fix that.
There are a lot of providers that claim to be “Certifiers” (and charge like they are!).
The truth is, if your Certifier is not an Engineer, and does not have “Certification Insurance” for playgrounds and open space, then you are throwing your project budget down the drain, for bad advice, and no insurance cover in the event of an injury - because the insurer will simply walk away.
We see this happen time and time again, and we are on a crusade to stop this happening!
One of the biggest risks with Certifiers is knowing their insurance will function in case it’s needed, not just today, but decades into the future. In over 35 years, we have never had a certificate successfully challenged, which is why the biggest names in play and open space trust us to ensure the safety of the next generation.
We combine the highest level of experience in the industry having certified over 6500 projects, with the correct insurance, and Engineer-level certification. This means we stand by our advice, and so can you.
Thanks to our experience, we back our ethos of “Compliant Creativity” 100%, and it is at the core of what we do. This means we want your design to work, and to preserve the aesthetic wherever possible.
Achieving compliance shouldn’t ruin your design, and usually, it can be achieved with simple, subtle alterations the client (and the end user) wouldn’t notice.
On completion, properly certified projects breeze through PC review of compliance, whether it is local government, a developer, or ASEQUA.
This means you look great to your end client, and can finally get some sleep, all without worrying about an accident coming back to bite you!
Proper certification shouldn’t cost the earth - Full end-to-end certification costs less than the cooktop of an outdoor BBQ, a bench seat, or 10m2 of Irrigated garden beds.
It’s also mind-blowingly less than the cost of rectification - and in the event of an accident saves millions in legal fees & and payouts.
We know the biggest hassle with certifiers is wait times, which is why we introduced our turnaround guarantee. As long as we know your review is coming, we will have it back to you in 3 business days or less, or it's free.
We respond same-day to emails before 3 pm, and as the biggest play and open space Certifier in Australia, you can almost always get one of our team on the phone - or we will call you right back, the same day.
We have the capacity for only 500 additional Projects in 23/24, so reach out today to avoid disappointment.