Frequently Asked Questions
- What are ASTM F1292 requirements?
In order to determine if a playground surface material(s) can properly absorb impact from a fall, manufacturers submit their surfacing through ASTM F1292 testing. This test is performed both in the lab and in the field to determine the “critical fall height” rating of the surface. A critical fall height rating refers to the maximum height of a fall, in which a serious head injury is not expected to occur.
- How can I ensure that I install a safe playground surface?
CPSC and ASTM have specific guidelines and methods of installation for each type of surfacing material. When choosing a playground surfacing supplier and/or installation company, it is important to make sure that they are using ASTM certified materials and follow CPSC guidelines when installing playground surfaces.
- Do I need to have my playground surface inspected?
In most states, you do not need to have a public playground surface inspected. However, sixteen states have adopted the CPSC or ASTM guidelines, including: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.
- Who can inspect playground surfaces?
If you choose to have your playground inspected, it is important to choose a Certified Playground Safety Inspector. Certified Playground inspectors are trained by the National Playground Safety Institute and they will ensure that your playground surface has been installed following CPSC and ASTM guidelines.
- Where can I find a Certified Playground Inspector?
You can find a Certified Playground inspector in your area here.
- What is an inclusive playground surface?
An inclusive playground surface follows ADA accessibility guidelines, which allows children of all disabilities to freely move around in the play area. For more detailed information about ADA accessibility guidelines, please visit the United States Access Board website.
- What kind of maintenance should I expect from my playground surface?
The required maintenance of your playground surface depends largely on the type of material used. Loose-fill surfaces such as wood and rubber mulch, EWF, sand and pea gravel require frequent maintenance to make sure that the material is spread evenly to meet ASTM critical fall height requirements. You will also need to make sure that it is checked regularly to remove potentially harmful foreign objects.
Unitary surfaces like pour-place rubber, bonded rubber and synthetic turf surfacing should be checked annually for cracks, divots, or other potential tripping hazards, and to make sure that the surface still meets ASTM critical fall height requirements.
- Are Pea Gravel or Sand acceptable surfaces for use under playground equipment?
Pea gravel is a loose-filled playground surface made up of small, polished pebbles that are typically round and consistent in size. Due to its inability to comply with ADA standards, it has been gradually phased out over the last decade as an option for public and commercial playgrounds.
Sand is a loose filled surface that was a staple in the commercial playground industry for many years. However, when the ADA issued Standards for Accessible Design 2010, it essentially became obsolete. It is still used as a surfacing option for many home playgrounds.
- What are fall height requirements?
Surfacing should be installed with a rating greater or equal to the fall height of the highest piece of equipment on the playground. It is typically recommend to use a greater depth than the minimum necessary level to account for displacement and compaction.
- What is the difference between loose-fill and unitary surfaces?
Unitary playground surfaces typically feature a uniform construction that is bonded or assembled in a manner to provide a relatively smooth, seamless surface. Loose-Fill surfaces are typically characterized by impact resistant materials that are “loosely” spread under playground equipment.
- Where can I find more information?
There are many organizations and governmental agencies that provide information on playground safety. We provide an overview with links to these sites in our Playground Safety Resources section.