Playground Safety Specifications & Testing Standards

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Playground Safety Specs, Testing Stds., Planning & Installation

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.

NOTE: Clicking on any of the bulleted text links below in the Playground Safety Basics and 7 Easy Installation Tips sections will expand the area and provide additional information. Clicking them again will hide the additional info. When clicking on the ASTM Safety Standards section links, this will open up the outside website in a new browser window.

Playground safety basics

Click on any of the 3 bulleted basics below to expand it for more detailed information, and click it again to compress it.

  • Starting Off... - Just some basics about playground playset fall safety for children.
  • What Age of Child? - Why the age of the child is important for determining proper fall safety.
  • Loose-Fill Surfacing Primer - Basic Info about loose-fill safety surfaces.

Residential playground 7 easy loose-fill surface installation tips (Step-By-Step)

Click on any of the bulleted installation tips below to expand it for more detailed information, and click it again to compress it.

  • 1. Determine Your Safety Area - The distances and shape can have a lot to do with levels of safety for your play area.
  • 2. Yard Playset Position - Make sure your area is large enough for the playest, and provides proper drainage.
  • 3. Contain the Material - Perimeter borders often work best for many loose-fill safety surface applications.
  • 4. Preparing the Proper Depth - How to go about getting the area ready for loose-fill safety surfacing.
  • 5. Keep It Separated - Use the proper geotextile fabric, not something inadequate, and secure it well.
  • 6. Loose-Fill Surfacing Installation - Simply lay out the material, and spread it around evenly.
  • 7. Loose-Fill Surfacing Maintenance - Always maintain loose-fill surfacing per the manufacturer's recommendations.


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 other specific specifications, documents or testing standards, 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 playground safety testing standards

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 X0000-12, with the two-digits after the hyphen indicating the year of revision.

Click on any of the safety standards listed below to open up a new page on the externally hosted website.

  • 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 - Standard 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
  • CSA Z614 - 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.

The recent article, "Are Our Playgrounds (and Industry-Related Fall Safety Standards) Really Safe?," provides a lot of additional information you may find useful in assisting you in making informed decisions regarding playground fall safety.


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. This document provides statistical information as to the nature of injuries sustained by children falling on surfaces with differing HIC values. The data revealed about how HIC scores relate to injuries are eye-opening. A link to this document online is provided on our Resources page.



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