Unsafe Playground Gate Design Leads to Severe Finger Injury

The article discusses a case study of a minor who suffered a severe injury, specifically the severing of their fingertip, on a playground due to a gate's design that created a pinch point.

ByZach Barreto


Published on February 9, 2024

Open gate at playground

Case Overview

This case study delves into an incident involving a minor who sustained a severe injury, specifically the severing of their fingertip, on a playground. The event transpired during recess while under the supervision of a substitute teacher. The child had ventured into a gated play area, allegedly without the supervisor present, and proceeded to close the gate for safety reasons.

The gate's design allowed it to rotate nearly 360 degrees, thereby creating a pinch point that led to the child's injury. This case calls upon an expert in playground safety to assess the design of the playground and provide insight into relevant safety standards.

Questions to the Amusement Park Safety expert and their responses


Could you describe your background in playground safety, particularly as it pertains to the design and safety of gates?

I have previously held the position of Certified Playground Safety Inspector with the National Recreation and Park Association. My tenure included six years with Conroe ISD where I was involved in transforming and upgrading playgrounds at 35 elementary schools with a focus on enhancing child safety.

Furthermore, my professional experience extends over 25 years in the amusement industry where I served as a safety manager and corporate director of safety and risk for two major amusement companies.


Are there any existing standards designed to prevent such incidents from occurring?

There are indeed standards set by ASTM and Consumer Product Safety Commission for play structures. However, these do not extend to gates as fences are not considered compulsory around playgrounds.


Have you ever reviewed a similar case? If so, could you elaborate?

Yes, I have been involved in reviewing cases related to fence and gate injuries, including those where hand injuries were caused by pinch points. In fact, just last week, I provided testimony in one such case involving a gate at an amusement park located in California.

About the expert

This expert boasts over 25 years of experience in theme park safety management, with a focus on risk mitigation and operational procedures. They hold a BA in Organizational Psychology and Development and an MS in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management. Currently serving as the CEO of a safety consulting group, this expert is also a certified safety professional and an OSHA 501 general industry outreach trainer, with prior roles including Director of Safety and Risk Management at a major amusement company and Director of Risk Management for a water park management firm.

Expert headshot


About the author

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto

Zach Barreto is a distinguished professional in the legal industry, currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Research at the Expert Institute. With a deep understanding of a broad range of legal practice areas, Zach's expertise encompasses personal injury, medical malpractice, mass torts, defective products, and many other sectors. His skills are particularly evident in handling complex litigation matters, including high-profile cases like the Opioids litigation, NFL Concussion Litigation, California Wildfires, 3M earplugs, Elmiron, Transvaginal Mesh, NFL Concussion Litigation, Roundup, Camp Lejeune, Hernia Mesh, IVC filters, Paraquat, Paragard, Talcum Powder, Zantac, and many others.

Under his leadership, the Expert Institute’s research team has expanded impressively from a single member to a robust team of 100 professionals over the last decade. This growth reflects his ability to navigate the intricate and demanding landscape of legal research and expert recruitment effectively. Zach has been instrumental in working on nationally significant litigation matters, including cases involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, toxic chemical exposure, and wrongful death, among others.

At the Expert Institute, Zach is responsible for managing all aspects of the research department and developing strategic institutional relationships. He plays a key role in equipping attorneys for success through expert consulting, case management, strategic research, and expert due diligence provided by the Institute’s cloud-based legal services platform, Expert iQ.

Educationally, Zach holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and European History from Vanderbilt University.

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