Strategies for Ensuring the Safety and Security of Park Grills
As procurement specialists, designers, implementation crews, and other professionals that cater to public audiences, we sometimes lose sight of the ‘after the fact’ importance of things like liability, risk, and safety. Definitely not intentionally – but sometimes, the best practices and checklist items we use to progress through a project isn’t an adequate way to anticipate such concerns. Having at least a surface-level understanding of these concerns and making a concerted effort to include planning for them is an important aspect of delivering a sustainable solution in all regards.
It doesn’t have to be so ‘serious,’ but safety, security, and risk management should be taken seriously in the planning and development phases of a project to ensure long-term success for that project is attainable. This article will speak to the importance of these considerations and offer some tips to help improve overall planning sophistication without adding too much workload. Additionally, the aim is to help you to be reminded of how your choices today for a project may have important implications in the future, both from a positive and a negative viewpoint.
Specifically, this article will highlight the importance of utilizing sound strategy and best practices with regard to park grills, fire containment, and public use of infrastructure. All of these things are important factors in ensuring success over the long term while minimizing legal worries and mitigating the potential for injury or damage to facilities or people.
The importance of Mitigating risk exposures, understanding maintenance, and liability requirements, and building an organization that is forward-thinking about customer experience in an outdoor space
Lawsuits aren’t fun. Imagine if, as a procurement specialist or manager, you were to inherit a risk exposure from a previous manager that has moved on from the organization. How excited would you be for such an occurrence?
Alternatively, imagine the PR nightmare that comes from a lawsuit or litigation resulting from poor holistic planning on a project of yours.
While it’s never possible to eliminate all legal exposures, it is possible to build a project that is optimized to create safe spaces for risk to be managed, and it is possible to produce a final result that has utilized a reasonable standard of care to be protective of both the property/project, and the end user/public.
Risk management is extremely important. It can go a long way to minimizing total exposure long-term.
Being able to cement a legacy of thoroughness and having a track record of success in avoiding injury, death, and overall risk is an impressive goal. Being a manager that thinks outside of the box can be a career-defining achievement and offers progressively enhanced value to you in a compensation sense and from a résumé perspective.
As managers, purchasers, designers, and facilitators of public-facing projects, one important aspect of our job are to be cognizant of liability, risk, and exposure levels. It’s our job, at least, to ensure that reasonable standards of care are implemented in all cases. The best way to do this is to focus on prioritizing a culture of people and a stable of go-to products and providers that can help you minimize the guesswork in ensuring this can be implemented.
It seems daunting, but mostly it’s about defining principles and communicating those principles with the aim of finding harmony and sustainability in your procedures and infrastructure selections.
Communicating with guests
The most important part, aside from the internal frameworks you design and implement (some tips on that towards the end), is being able to associate ideas of risk management, safety, and sustainable use with the actual user in real-time.
Here are some best practices:
- Signage is important. You should be building with obvious intentions for users. A Park Grill that has a 10-foot radius cleared out around it is an obvious sign that you take falling coals and flying sparks seriously. Further, telling people that coals are hot and showing instantly recognizable warnings can help people realize danger easily. The combination can help to mentally push a narrative, passively for the user
- Having a website or app that can help reiterate best practices or communicating on occasion through social media channels can reinforce safety as a goal and an idea
- Buying Grilling products that are systematically constructed to improve safety and house hot coals (in this instance) properly helps to reinforce these ideas
- Having hot coal storage is absolutely essential, so trash fires aren’t commonplace, and so the park visitor can help facilitate cleanliness
- All mounting should be permanent or in a secured fashion so the bases and the cooking surfaces cannot be vandalized, broken easily, or damaged in ways that could cause improper use to be able to occur by unsuspecting users
- Maintenance should be done on, at minimum, a weekly basis, with at minimum, a visual check up-close of the cooking/grilling areas
- Budgets should be maintained to replace or repair these pieces of infrastructure
Passive communications and communication through design
The grill and amenities surrounding outdoor park cooking essentials can also be props in communicating how to maintain safety to the end user. They can also be built to minimize exposure.
Certain risks that the consumer must take on will still exist, however, so a duty of care is reasonable to be expected of the user.
An example: Metal heats up when fire is used in or around it. The duty of care is the responsibility of the end user for such a case because they would be introducing the heat to the otherwise stationary/inert grill.
Along the same lines, passive design implementations that can help the consumer understand the risks, are also staged through this design mentality. An example of this would be the wrapped handles that offer a way to maintain the cooler temperatures on the handles. Integral grills that fit above the fire, and into the grill itself, have wrapped sections that can be cooler to the touch. A consumer may not be able to tell from a visual check that the handles are hot. But the strength of this design feature offers enough protection that there are no unintentional burns if they use the “generally accepted” use standards of a grill.
Other design features you may be interested in as a project coordinator or park manager, etc., would be things like hot coal disposal units with signage as mentioned above, and a cement pad to ensure that coals which do fall through are not at high risk of starting a fire in debris or ground cover. Similarly, we would not want to add dry wood chips as the ground cover if we intended to have substantial grill implementation – at the very least, we would avoid it within a significant distance from cooking areas. We would use grass, or gravel, DG, or dirt instead, as a cover in those areas.
Formal communications and setting expectations of visitors without damaging the visitor experience
These passive communication methods are the easy way to avoid concerns with the end user, but may not be strong enough at times to guarantee success:
- Communication through signage
- Communication through thoughtful design/proper infrastructure choices
- Communication through landscape and background elements
At times you may need to maintain more specific and direct methodologies (such as):
- Printing warnings/rules/instructions on a pamphlet or having a waiver signed upon registration (this is popular where spaces are not ‘first come first serve’, like in campgrounds, or through booking portals and in national parks, RV Parks and beach campgrounds, etc.)
- Having a facilitator on site or in a position of orientation upon arrival or having a full-time presence at the space (this is unlikely to be applicable to most public spaces, especially where a lack of user fee or a membership does not allow for financial advantage)
- Direct, to the point signage, such as risks of fires, fines or danger.
- Park Rangers are employed as warning signs with authority in some conditions, etc.
Best practices from the early strategic planning level
The best way to ensure liability minimization is through thoughtful design and good product picking and placement. Some of the best practices are as follows:
- Pick a fire ring that has quality construction and a heavy gauge steel build to ensure that they are not easy to move or knock over. Full circle enclosures are important too, so that an errant soccer ball or other concern doesn’t easily displace fire. Fire rings should have integral anchors to ensure stationary placement for the long-term.
- Grills should be made of non warping, heavy gauge steel, with a reinforced design to avoid warpage over time so that coals are not slipping out of the holding area easily
- Grills should also be made with wrapped/protected handles and have a grill that has finite, fully-engaged height placement and adjustment
- BBQ’s, grills and fire rings should have adequate area around them to ensure static placement and allow for mitigation of fire risks in the immediate area
- Hot coal storage/disposal amenities are an absolute must have
- Strong mounting options are an absolute must have
- Communication and expectations are essential. However, you must disseminate information properly, to allow for a successful, sustainable program
We would love for you to consider the types of products we sell for outdoor grilling, cooking in public spaces, and amenities that are associated with these concepts. Our selection and the quality of the grilling products for parks, backyards and other public spaces is fantastic. We invite you to look through our product portfolio for park grills, BBQ’s and other cooking implementations and call us with questions or order directly on the website.