Safety standards are constantly being updated based on consumer feedback and experience. Over the years, different types of playground materials have been reviewed, tested, approved, or rejected to minimize injuries and accidents. In turn, this process helps playground designers, administrators, supervisors, and stakeholders establish appropriate safety and health practices in the playground.
Loose fill manufacturers must adhere to the ASTM F1292, which details the Standard Specifications for Loose-Fill Rubber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface Under and Around Playground Equipment. It reviews different factors of loose-fill cushioning, specifically on the risk of fall injury.
The Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment falls under ASTM F1292, which uses G-max and Head Injury criterion. These measure the injury risks of attenuation by impact of loose fill surfaces like rubber mulch for children aged 3-14 years old. Using this standard, no value shall exceed 200 g -max or 1000 HIC for critical fall height. Tests conducted under this standard help determine compliance with the requirements, and should be taken not less than three years before the loose-fill rubber surfacing is installed.
Third-party validating bodies like the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) now follow the ASTM F3012 as the updated safety standard for loose-fill rubber surfacing for playgrounds. This standard was published by the ASTM in 2014, and aims to raise the bar on superior fall cushioning for manufacturers. The ASTM F3012 complements F1292; manufacturers of loose-fill rubber must comply with the specifications of the latter before meeting the requirements of the former. The standards of F3012 evaluate hazardous metal content, tramp metal content, sharp metal content, and lead content.
To assure consumers of these standards being met and implemented, the IPEMA issues certification on manufacturers who comply and meet CPSC lead content guidelines. It is therefore a good idea to research playground surfacing for an IPEMA certification prior to purchasing.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission website has a section on the regulations, laws, and standards for consumer products, which can be reviewed by those planning to put up new businesses or launch new products or services. Consumers can get information and updates on product recalls, statutes, mandatory standards, and banned products. The agency also actively participates in the development of voluntary standards when mandatory standards do not apply.
Playground safety cannot be brushed off. There’s an important reason play places (both public and private) have a list of rules for kids and guardians to follow. Always remember that these rules are crafted by professionals who wish to protect the public from injuries, health and safety risks, and death.