Make Safety a Priority.
When you’re looking to design and build a playground that will benefit your entire organization or community, remember to make safety a priority. The playground equipment you choose can have a significant impact on the safety of the children and parents who come to your playground. In many cases, you can reduce the risk of injuries with the right solutions.
How Playworld Can Help
Choosing safe playground equipment and putting playground safety standards first is easy when you work with Playworld. Our team understands the latest playground safety standards and can help you design a safe play area for all children. We take into consideration surfacing needs, appropriate equipment types for those who will be using it, shade, and more.
Playground Safety Considerations
When building a place for all children to play safely, you will want to keep several factors in mind:
- Users. Consider who will be using the playground and what you need to consider for their safety. For example, you will need to ensure your playground equipment is age-appropriate, since equipment designed for older kids can be dangerous for toddlers. Also, you will want to incorporate inclusive playground design so children of all ability levels can use and enjoy the playground.
- Surfacing. Loose-fill surfacing can be budget-friendly, while unitary surfacing may be easier for wheelchairs and some users. Both types of surfacing have potential safety benefits. No matter the kind of surfacing you choose the depth or thickness of the surfacing will need to be determined based on the height of equipment and several other factors.
- Sunlight. Burns and heat-related injuries can be reduced with the right shade options. Playground shade can also increase the amount of time that children and their parents or caretakers will spend at the playground.
- Playground safety regulations and certifications. There are a number of types of playground safety certifications and regulations from several different organizations. Find out what safety standards are required in your area and make sure you meet or exceed all standard minimums for the safest play area possible.
Playground Safety Regulations and Certifications
There are many safety considerations and certifications to consider alongside playground safety rules to ensure safety:
The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to playground safety. Playground equipment and surfacing makers can apply to IPEMA to get certified through the IPEMA product certification program. This program evaluates safety and offers qualifying manufacturers seals proving they have met specific standards.
Five seals are available through this program:
- ASTM F1487-11
- CAN/CSA Z-614-14
- ASTM F1292-13 (showing adherence to ASTM F1292?13 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials Within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment Standard)
- ASTM F2075-15 (showing adherence to ASTM F2075?15 Standard Specification For Engineered Wood Fiber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface Under and Around Playground Equipment)
- ASTM F3012-14 (showing adherence to ASTM F3012-14 Standard Specification For Loose?Fill Rubber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface under and around Playground Equipment)
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) develops safety guidelines for commercial and home playground equipment. The CPSC has a list of safety standards contained in an official handbook. These standards are voluntary and are not required by law, but they are designed to help keep children safer on play areas. Some of the subjects covered in the CPSC handbook of safety rules include:
- Choosing appropriate surfacing
- Choosing durable and safe playground equipment
- Selecting the right layout to prevent injury
- Age-appropriate equipment
- Identifying and reducing playground hazards
- Maintaining a play area for maximum safety
ASTM International is a non-profit organization that develops voluntary standards for organizations globally. The group develops standards for a variety of industries, including playground equipment and surfacing.
In addition, ASTM develops technical materials to help manufactures produce the safest products possible. ASTM standards which are relevant to makers of playground equipment include:
- F1148 Home Playground Equipment
- F1487 Public Use Playground Equipment
- F2373 Under Two Play Equipment
- F1918 Soft Contained Play Equipment
- F2088 Infant Swings
- F1292 Playground Surfacing
The standards are developed by committees of customers and producers. Once they are developed, manufacturers are required to adhere to these standards and have their products tested by an independent lab to create documented evidence of compliance.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a non-profit group based in Switzerland. The organization develops standards for a range of industries, including 97.200.40 Playgrounds (Including amusement rides and devices) to address playground safety.
Manufacturers who meet these requirements can seek ISO 9001:2008 certification, showing they adhere to playground safety rules designed by ISO and are committed to ongoing improvement of playground equipment safety. Manufacturers can also seek ISO 14001:2004, which shows an adherence to green manufacturing.
The Access Board
The U.S. Access Board is a federal agency concerned with providing Americans with disabilities equal access to services and areas. The Access Board offers a number of guidelines for playground designers and manufacturers regarding surfacing and accessibility.
The agency requires playgrounds and other recreational facilities to adhere to ADA and ABA standards, which are designed to ensure people with disabilities can access public spaces. Among other things, these standards require safe and accessible routes to and between playground equipment, safe surfacing for all users and playground equipment which can be used safely by users with various abilities.
International Safety Standards and Regulations
CSA (Canadian Standards Association) International is an organization offering certification and testing for a range of commercial products. CSA Certification shows playground equipment has been tested and determined to meet safety standards in Canada as well as the United States.
TÜV SÜD America
TÜV SÜD America offers testing and certification for a range of products, including playground equipment. The organization offers design consultancy assistance to playground makers, emphasizing the need for safe design as well as chemical and mechanical testing and safety.
The organization requires playground equipment be certified and tested to meet U.S., European and British standards. The TÜV SÜD Certification Mark is an approval stamp showing a piece of playground equipment has met compliance standards and has received endorsement from an independent third party.
Additional Safety Considerations
There are many ways to ensure safety beyond certifications and standards. For example, carefully considering fall zones and ensuring proper cushioning under swings and slides as well as climbers ensure children can play without worry. In addition, ensuring surfaces are solid and smooth,
with no protruding items, ensures safety.
Regular safety checks and audits can be an important part of not only designing a safe play space but also keeping it safe over time. Consider walking through your play area regularly or even seeking an expert’s review. Have you done everything possible to keep the play area safe? Is there anything more you can do to eliminate hazards? A regular maintenance schedule can also ensure any equipment showing signs of wear can be addressed.
A safe playground often begins with quality equipment and safe playground design. Ensuring the right surfacing for the equipment you choose and opting for the right distance between pieces of playground equipment, for instance, ensures kids in your play space can stay safer.