Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health
188.8.131.52: Maintenance of Exterior Surfaces
Early care and education programs should be aware of potential hazards on exterior surfaces around buildings and facilities. Exterior surfaces such as porches, decks, steps, stairs, walkways, gates, fencing, handrails, and driveways/parking lots should follow these guidelines to prevent falls or injuries:
- Be free from water, ice, or snow
- Be free of loose or sharp objects
- Be free of deteriorated paint (e.g., cracking, chipping, or peeling)
- Be in good condition (e.g., no splintering wood, loose boards, or broken railings)
- Have a non-slip surface (e.g., slip-resistant mats or textured surfaces in wet areas)
- Be free of any trip hazards (e.g., extension cords, hoses, tools)
All early care and education programs buildings built before 1978 should have annual inspections of exterior surfaces to make sure the paint is intact and there is no friction/rubbing where lead-based paint may be present. Pre-1978 buildings should also have annual inspections to fix roof and water leaks, which will reduce paint deterioration caused by exposure to moisture.2–3 For more information on lead testing or removal, see CFOC Standard 184.108.40.206.
RATIONALEWalking surfaces that are slippery, have uneven surfaces, or are in poor condition can lead to falls, which may lead to injury.1 However, falls can be prevented by removing potential hazards to make the environment safer for children, families, and staff.
Walking surfaces coated with lead-based paint are lead poisoning hazards. Lead is especially dangerous to children, because their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to lead’s damaging effects, and their young bodies can absorb more lead. Babies and young children also often put their hands and other objects in their mouths. These objects may have lead dust on them, particularly if a child is crawling on floors contaminated with lead dust. Once ingested, lead can lead to several negative health effects in children.4
The manufacture of lead-based paint was banned in the United States in 1978, but many older buildings around the country still have it. Lead exposure during childhood can cause brain damage, loss of IQ, poor memory, behavior problems, and death. When lead-based paint breaks down, chips and dust settle onto surfaces children can easily reach, such as floors and other walking surfaces. Contaminated dust can be inhaled or ingested and is hazardous even if the particles are too small to see.5
COMMENTSA state or local childhood lead poisoning prevention program, health department, or certified risk assessment professional can help early care and education programs test for lead hazards and write a “remediation plan” to reduce paint, water, or soil lead hazards.
See Caring for Our Children Standard 220.127.116.11 for details on testing for and remediating lead hazards, including interim controls and lead abatement. Lead-related hazards on porches, stair railings, and handrails are discussed in 18.104.22.168, Structure Maintenance.
For more information on lead exposures, visit the EPA’s Protect Your Family from Exposures to Lead Web page.
TYPE OF FACILITYCenter, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS22.214.171.124 Inspection of Buildings
126.96.36.199 Assessment of the Environment at the Site Location
188.8.131.52 Structurally Sound Facility
184.108.40.206 Testing for and Remediating Lead Hazards
220.127.116.11 Construction and Remodeling
18.104.22.168 Maintenance of Exterior Surfaces
22.214.171.124 Structure Maintenance
Standard last updated 09/27/2022.