SMARTE® Safety Surfacing

SMARTE® Safety Surfacing

One of the biggest concerns in play space design is safety. Children will fall, scrape a knee, and get a bump or bruise on the playground—it’s inevitable—but the severity of the injury sustained doesn’t have to be. SMARTE safety surfacing is the revolutionary, play-inclusive surface by Playworld that provides greater impact protection in a convenient, sustainable way.

Playground Injury Statistics & Health Consequences

Nearly half a million children (up to age 14) visit their local emergency department every year because of traumatic brain injuries? More than 16,000 of these injuries occurred on the playground, and falls are the leading cause of TBI, including concussion. Did you know:

  • Falling off playground equipment can cause more bodily damage than a 40 MPH car accident.
  • The complications of severe concussions are long lasting and sometimes severe. Even recovering from a mild or moderate concussion can be extremely challenging, and can last months.
  • The effects of severe concussion include convulsions and seizures, problems recognizing people and places, confusion, severe depression later in life, and permanent brain injury. In some cases, adults who sustained multiple concussions experience the effects of severe TBI decades after the injury.
  • Softer surfaces that absorb shock, such as SMARTE, are proven to reduce the risk of sustaining a severe TBI.

Head Impact Criterion

Head impact criterion (HIC) values calculate impact. HIC is a standard used to measure the safety of vehicles, sports gear and other protective equipment. HIC values indicate the shock absorbing properties of playground surfacing—the lower the number, the safer the surfacing. Current industry HIC standard for playground surfacing is 1000.

Evidence proves that skull fractures and severe concussions occur after sustaining an impact with as low of a HIC score as 500. Although sustaining a HIC of less than 500 can still cause head injuries, the effects are less likely to be severe or long-lasting. In addition, most playground surface manufacturers don’t publish safety testing criteria or results, so it can be difficult to know how well your surface really protects your patrons. For example, a typical playground-height fall of 8’ to 9’ can produce:

  • A HIC of 750 on an absorbent rubber tile playground surface.
  • A HIC of 813 on a turf surfaces.
  • A HIC of 867 on poured-in-place surfaces.
  • A HIC of 255-340 on SMARTE (depending on top layer).

Play SMARTE with Playworld

Unlike other kinds of playground surfacing, our patented SMARTE protects at fall heights up to 10’ (3,05m) under a HIC* value of 500—the threshold at which skull fractures might occur. SMARTE is the most advanced playground safety surface available today. From safety and sustainability to convenience and accessibility, SMARTE is the ideal choice for your patrons.

We manufacture SMARTE using recycled rubber. Every square foot of SMARTE removes one tire from a landfill. Our surfacing is completely reusable and recyclable after it is removed from a playground. SMARTE is durable and suitable for use in all climate conditions, and it returns to its original shape again and again after impact. Its revolutionary design features ”pillows” filled with recycled rubber mulch, covered by layer of loose rubber mulch, and secured by a top layer of either turf or poured in place rubber wear layer. Your playground will benefit from an eco-conscious, beautiful surface that is accessible to individuals of all ages and abilities.

The bottom line? Adding a safe playground surface to your Playworld playground not only enhances the appearance of your play space, but also protects your community from spills and slips.


  • Cost effective: Unlike other surfacing choices, you can choose to only replace a portion of the top layer of SMARTE, should it show any wear, and leave the foundation layer intact.
  • Practical: If you need to move your playground, you won’t have to purchase new surfacing*. Simply move SMARTE to your new location.
  • Reusable: When your playground is no longer needed, reuse or recycle your SMARTE system. Rubber mulch is suitable for a wide variety of applications.
  • Scalable: If you plan to install a new playground in the future, SMARTE grows alongside you. Because SMARTE is safe for structures up to 10’, you won’t have to worry about replacing your playground surface. Why purchase a surface that is safe to 6’ when you could choose SMARTE—the surface that grows along with your playground and children.
  • Safe: Playworld thoroughly researched and tested the SMARTE hybrid surfacing system for safety, accessibility, and sustainability. There is no safer choice for playground surfacing.

*Turf layer can be reused; pour-in-place wear layer will need to be replaced.

Want to know more?

When you’re ready to learn more about the safest playground surface in the industry, contact your local Playworld representative.