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 and the right playground safety products.

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.

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Playground Safety Considerations Checklist

Keep the following in mind to ensure safety in your play space:


To keep kids and caretakers alike safe on your playground, there are many safety guidelines and rules you should put in place to help ensure safety. Here are some considerations you can make to improve your playground’s safety:

Depending on the age demographic using the playground, 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.

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.

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.

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

Consider the following safety regulations and certifications when building your playground:

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 in play areas. Some of the subjects covered in the CPSC handbook of safety rules include:

  • Choosing appropriate surfacing
    • Whether using unitary or loose-fill materials, the appropriate surface should be used for certain equipment and age groups
  • Choosing durable and safe playground equipment
    • Equipment should be durable enough to prevent loosening of hardware and corrosion due to weather or use
  • Selecting the right layout to prevent injury
    • Playground layout should be designed so that the play of one child does not interfere with the play of others.
  • Age-appropriate and safe playground equipment
    • Playgrounds should be designed for the age of the average child who will use the equipment. Signage should identify the age range of more challenging equipment if playgrounds are multi-use.
  • Identifying and reducing playground hazards
    • Potential hazards such as entanglement, entrapment, and sharp points should be identified and resolved
  • Maintaining a play area for maximum safety
    • Maintenance inspections should be conducted regularly, and repairs should be made in a timely fashion so that the playground remains safe for children.

ASTM International is a non-profit organization that develops standards for a variety of industries, including playground equipment and surfacing. These are voluntary standards for organizations that don’t require independent testing or lab certification, but manufacturers may be required to adhere to them if the standards are cited in regulations or laws.

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 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, which shows an adherence to green manufacturing.

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 as well as surfacing that can be used safely by users with various abilities.

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 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 to 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 helps assure 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. Choosing the right surfacing for your equipment and opting for the right distance between pieces of playground equipment, for instance, ensures kids in your play space can stay safer.

Playworld can help you design a safer playground by walking you through these and other safety elements. Contact Playworld today for a quote or to start designing your safe play area.

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