Playground Safety

At IPEMA, our mission is to improve playground safety. For years we have stressed the importance of playground safety providing third-party product certification program for public play equipment and surfacing materials. The members of IPEMA are playground and equipment surfacing manufacturers who believe playground safety is a vital component to their work. Playground safety has significantly improved over the past 25 years through the dedicated efforts of our members and other activists. Since the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued its first safety standards for playgrounds in 1981, playground equipment and surfacing has revolutionized. In order to cushion kids’ falls, hard surfaces such as concrete, asphalt and grass have been swapped for engineered wood-fiber, soft fiber and synthetic grass. What many of us remember as “jungle gyms” or “monkey bars” have been replaced with innovative composite play systems, complex net and rock climbers and play systems rooted in educational exploration now. IPEMA prides itself in taking a role in this ongoing transformation, because many of us are parents ourselves. We understand the importance play has in our child’s development and value the security of knowing our kids are safe on the playground.

Standards

In the interest of public safety, IPEMA provides a third-party product certification program for public play equipment and surfacing materials. The services provide for the validation of a participant’s certification of conformance to one or more of the standards referenced below. TÜV SÜD America serves as the third-party validator for the program.

  • ASTM F1487-11, excluding sections 7.1.1, 10, 12.6.1, 13.1.1, 13.1.2, 13.2 and 13.3 – Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use
  • CAN/CSA-Z614-14, Update No. 1, Sept. 1, excluding clauses 9.8, 10 and 11 – Children’s Playspaces and Equipment
  • ASTM F1292-13 (Section 4.2) – Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials Within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment Standard, Section 4.2, Performance Criterion
  • ASTM F2075-15 – Standard Specification for Engineered Wood Fiber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface Under and Around Playground Equipment
  • ASTM F3012-14 – Standard Specification for Loose-Fill Rubber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface Under and Around Playground Equipment

To learn more about playground safety and certification standards please visit www.ipema.org.

Playground Safety: How Safe is Your Playground?

Top 10 Playground Safety Questions Everyone Should Ask

1. Is the playground surface safe?

Unsafe surfaces such as concrete—and sometimes even grass—have the risk of severely injuring or killing. Falling is the number one cause of injuries on the playground, and therefore it is important to restrict children from playing on equipment placed on hard surfaces like asphalt, concrete and packed earth or grass. Acceptable playground surfacing should be certified wood fiber, shredded rubber or poured-in-place surfacing.

2. Is there enough room underneath and around playground equipment?

The general rule is to allow a minimum use zone of six feet around playground equipment. Refer to the ASTM 1487 Standard or the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines for specific use zone requirements.

3. Is there enough space between the playground equipment?

The general rule is to allow a minimum use zone of six feet around playground equipment. Refer to the ASTM F1487 Standard or the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines for specific use zone requirements.

4. Is the playground appropriate for the child?

Each playground should be designed appropriately to meet the needs of children that vary in age and ability.

5. Does the equipment put the child at risk from protruding objects?

Jutting pieces of hardware should not be on the equipment. Protruding objects could severely cut or injure children.

6. Does the playground equipment present a strangulation risk?

Look for anything that has the potential of snagging clothing, jewelry or strings.

7. Are there any moving parts that could pinch a child?

There should no accessible points where kids could possibly get pinched or crushed or could catch their clothing on.

8. Is there anything that might cause a child to trip?

Surfaces should be smooth and free of all tripping hazards. Ensure the ground is level by checking for tree stumps, roots or rocks.

9. Is the playground well maintained?

Playground equipment and hardware should be well kept. Rust and other deterioration are signs to reevaluate maintenance procedures. Regular inspection is important to keep the playground in good condition.

10. Has the playground been renovated since 1993?

Out-of-date equipment can be extremely dangerous. Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, playgrounds were commonly equipped with heavy metal swings. However, this lethal piece of equipment can potentially ram and injure children who walk in front of them. Frequent renovation is essential in order to secure playground safety.