Professional standards in playground equipment are designed to protect children and their families. This includes the use of safe playground surfacing materials that resist all forms of damage from nature or humans. Children cannot protect themselves and need protection from the strong, durable equipment that they use every day. ASTM is the official standards organization that regulates this industry. They perform tests and review statistics to assist in their development of safe playground equipment. The F08.63 subcommittee has published the following five standards on playground surfacing.
1) Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials
Impact attenuation is the measure of the force of impact as one object hits another. An impact attenuator is designed to absorb the energy from the colliding object. The purpose of impact-resistant materials is to reduce the severity of injuries from collisions with equipment.
Safe playground surfacing such as rubber mulch is important for providing our kids a safe place to play. For this very reason the standards for playground surfacing are more important now more than ever when we are constructing new playgrounds for our kids
This standard includes the rule of a minimum and maximum critical height for the equipment. A series of tests are performed to simulate falls and the results are given Head Injury Criterion (HIC) scores. The research pertains only to impact attenuation factors that cause falls.
2) Accessibility of Surface Systems
This standard involves the accessibility of safe playground surfacing materials for children with disabilities. Minimum specifications are set to make the equipment more accessible to wheelchair users and other physically disabled individuals.
3)Engineered Wood Fiber as a Safety Surface Material
Engineered wood fiber is included in to use in buffer zones around the playground equipment. Standards are set for the manufacture of the material that include size, purity and density. Engineered wood fiber is noted as a material that is not guaranteed to prevent injury.
4) Poured-In-Place Playground Surfacing
This standard lists the rules for the manufacture and installation of poured-in-place surfacing materials for playground equipment. Soft playground surfacing is designed to reduce a child’s force of impact with the ground. This standard includes maintenance requirements for the owners of playground equipment.
5) Loose-Fill Rubber as a Surface Material
Loose-fill rubber mulch is described as a protective material to use around playground equipment. This standard is designed for use by playground equipment manufacturers and operators along with the suppliers of loose-fill rubber. The minimum design requirements include particle size and the concentration of hazardous metals.
Setting professional standards for playground surfacing is necessary to prevent serious injury and death. These rules affect the minimum and maximum heights that swing sets or climbing bars are raised from the ground. Only soft playground surfacing is used around the equipment and tested before being installed. In addition, the ASTM meets every year to review and change their standards every few years. It’s important that all play equipment owners and operators follow the rules that are recommended by the ASTM
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