Playground Safety Specifications & Testing Standards

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Establishing Playground Safety & Testing Standards

There are a number of organizations dedicated to establishing and maintaining childhood safety, particularly for playgrounds. Some organizations worked together to examine and review data so that safety and testing standards could be created. As more is learned about the nature of playground injuries, these safety & testing standards are periodically updated by the agencies responsible for maintaining the appropriate corresponding documentation.

North American Playground Safety Specs & Testing Standards List

Below are quite a few of the established playground safety specifications and testing standards in place, primarily ASTM, as well as the Canadian standard identification. ASTM International has all Specifications and Test Methods available on their website, a link to which is available on our Online Links page. If you want to jump to a specific ASTM specification or testing standard on their website, please use our Resources page.

Only ASTM International provides authorized copies of its specifications and testing standards, and any party offering copies for free are doing so illegally and violating ASTM's rights. In addition, the information provided by any party other than ASTM may be altered and not reliable. Please obtain your copy of any ASTM specification or testing standard desired or required directly from ASTM.

ASTM safety & testing standards
  • F355 - Test Method for Shock-Absorbing Properties of Playing Surface Systems and Materials
  • F963 - Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety
  • F1148 - Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Home Playground Equipment
  • F1292 - Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials Within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment
  • F1487 - Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use
  • F1816 - Standard Safety Specification for Drawstrings on Children's Upper Outerwear
  • F1918 - Safety Performance Specification for Soft Contained Play Equipment
  • F1951 - Specification for Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment
  • F2049 - Standard Safety Performance Specification for Fences/Barriers for Public, Commercial, and Multi-Family
    Residential Use Outdoor Play Areas
  • F2075 - Specification for Engineered Wood Fiber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface Under and Around
    Playground Equipment
  • F2088 - Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Infant Swings
  • F2373 - Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Public Use Play Equipment for Children
    6 Months through 23 Months
  • F2479 - Guide for Specification, Purchase, Installation and Maintenance of Poured-In-Place Playground Surfacing
Canadian safety standard
  • CSAZ614 - Childrens Playspaces and Equipment

Historical safety information and reliability

All tests created for establishing maximum thresholds for playground safety, especially for playground falls, are set at a point where anything beyond could result in fatal injury. However, there are many experts who feel these standards are not acceptable, because the basis for determining the type of injuries expected at various ranges of G-max. & Head Injury Criterion (HIC) scores were arrived at from older automotive studies, often involving the use of cadavers and volunteers. Therefore, it is fairly widely acknowledged that the standards involved may not be conclusive as to the nature of real-life injuries to children at various ages. Just as we are now learning more about the nature of concussions, and how serious an injury those can be, sometimes with lasting or fatal results.

Probability of head injuries to HIC scores

The Canadian Association of Playground Practitioners (CAPP) published a document entitled, "CAPP Probability of Head Injury Relative to HIC Scores," which provides perhaps a better understanding of CEN-EN-177 and ASTM F1292, for playground safety surface fall impact testing. The purpose of this document sppears to be intended to provide realistic information as to the nature of injuries sustained by children falling on surfaces with differing HIC values. The data they revealed about how HIC scores relate to injuries appears alarming, and somewhat contradictory to the recommendations of some playground-related manufacturers' & distributors' claims.

ASTM specifications for playground safety

ASTM International, known until 2001 as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services. ASTM standards and tests are often referred to by an alphabetical letter followed by a numeric designation, such as ASTM X1000-12, with two-digits after the hyphen indicating the year of revision.

Playground equipment specifications & testing standards

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