Archive for August, 2011

Certified Playground Safety Inspectors: How do they add up?

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Certified Playground Safety Inspectors: How do they add up?
By Kenneth S Kutska, CPSI
Executive Director
International Playground Safety Institute, LLC

The National Park and Recreation Association has successfully launched its online registry of CPSIs worldwide. In an effort to better serve us this registry lists all CPSIs who have opted to be listed as an inspector in good standing. The CPSI designation is good for three years from the date the participant passes their examination. Because the industry and its workforce is far from stagnant we have seen a lot of turnover in the NRPA registry over the years. Historically it appears there is at least a 30 to 40% annual attrition rate. While we have CPSI’s re-certifying for the 5th time we are seeing as many 50% first timers at nearly every location. We are pleased to finally see increased participation from school systems, childcare facilities and the military.

The economy has impacted the number of participants in many States but the annual number of institutes still exceeds 50. Since 2001 NRPA has conducted over 50 Institutes and certified or recertified more than 2,500 people. NRPA has maintained an up to date CPSI Registry of between 6,000 to 8,000.

Here are a few current statistics about the CPSI Certification Program. As of October 2009 there are currently only 606 people listed. This is voluntary and most seek CPSI designation for their agency only and chose not to be listed. Everyone will have a chance to be added to this registry in the near future. Keep an eye out for information via the NRPA Web site at As of October 2009 there were:

• 7,033 CPSI note this number changes monthly as certifications expire and new people pass the examination
• 1,983 participants passed the CPSI examination out of more than 2,500.
• Total participants in CPSI Courses since 1991 is over 40,000
• The Examination Passing Score is now 70 out of 100.

Over the nearly twenty year history of the National Playground Safety Institute and the CPSI Course there have been significant fluctuations in the year to year participant totals. This information has not been analyzed to determine how or why these numbers fluctuate. I know from my long time involvement in this program that State legislative initiatives have significant impact on their State’s participation in the program. We have experienced up and downs in some State’s participation numbers when the NRPA Affiliate host organization experiences key staff turnover.

It is interesting to see how the CPSI numbers have changed over the years from State to State. In 1999 there was a total of 4,278 CPSI’s. The top states in totals were California at 492, North Carolina 284, Texas 245, New York 229 and both Washington and Florida 224. Ten years later things have changed. California and many other states have implemented legislation impacting public playgrounds. In a report dated October 12, 2009 there were 6,039 CPSIs. California still was leading the State by State total with 830 with Florida next at 353, Texas 327, Illinois 303 and Washington 291. You can see that many State’s numbers have more than doubled yet some like North Carolina and New York for some unknown reason have declined.

Back in the early 1990’s when I wrote my goals for the NPSI and CPSI Course I was hoping we would some day have one certified person in every community in America. While we are not there yet, I believe the numbers demonstrate that we are well on our way. If there has not been a CPSI Course held within your State for at least one year, I urge you to call the NRPA and volunteer to be the Local Host for your next CPSI Course in your area. Chances are your State Park and Recreation Affiliate organization is going through hard times and has cut back on staff who usually run these types or outreach programs and therefore they may need looking for someone to step in and organize the entire course. This is a big job but not as large as one might think. There is an excellent Local Host Manual with a step by step explanation of the entire process. Now is a good time to step forward. If you are from a school district, insurance agency, childcare facility, or military installation you too can help by assisting the local state park and recreation affiliate organization responsible for administering NRPA’s CPSI Courses. You can contact NRPA at and ask for your State’s affiliate phone number and contact person to help convince them to organize a CPSI Course near you. With your help we can make it happen.