Playground Safety - What you need to know

APCPLAY is part of a family of play and recreation brands that are fully dedicated to research and development of playground and recreation equipment that meet exacting safety standards. As part of our commitment to safety, we are members and participants in some of the top safety organizations in the industry:

APC Play commercial play structures are built in compliance with the requirements governed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The majority of our products adhere to (or exceed the requirements of) the following regulations:

  • Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use [ASTM F-1487-11]
  • Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials Within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment Standard [ASTM1292-13: Section 4.2)
    • Cushions falls
    • Minimizes risk of fall related injuries
  • Standard Specification for Loose-Fill Rubber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface Under and around Playground Equipment [ASTM F3012-14]
  • Children’s Playspaces and Equipment [CAN/CSA Z-614-14]

IPEMA Certified Equipment and Surfacing

APCPLAY is a member of the International Playground Manufacturer’s Association (IPEMA). IPEMA offers an intensive certification program that requires participants to stay up to date on playground safety issues. In the interest of public safety, IPEMA provides a product certification program for public play equipment and surfacing materials. The program validates a participant’s product(s) to one or more of the following standards

  • ASTM F-1487-11 – Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use
  • CAN/CSA Z-614-14 – Children’s Playspaces and Equipment
  • ASTM F1292-13 (Section 4.2) – Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials Within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment Standard. This regulation addresses the hazard of fall height and provides guidelines to minimize potential injuries by providing a specified amount of impact absorbent surface material to cushion a fall.
  • ASTM F3012-14 – Standard Specification for Loose-Fill Rubber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface under and around Playground Equipment
  • ASTM F1951-99 – Standard Specification for Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment
  • To access IPEMA’s Library of Resources click here

National Recreation and Park Association Certified Installation

Playground installation services provided by APCPLAY are handled by construction experts who have been certified by the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) Playground Safety Inspector Program (CPSI).


National Program for Playground Safety

APCPLAY is a participant in the National Program for Playground Safety, committed to ensuring that playground safety training and resources are available to owners, educators, and chaperones of children playing on APC Play equipment.


US Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board

APCPLAY playground solutions are designed to uphold the accessibility of play areas and play surfaces to children with disabilities and special needs as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). For guidelines and standards to build an ADA compliant play area, you can access their guides for:


Consumer Product Safety Commission

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission is the governing body that regulates the safety of all products sold in the United States.


Playground Design Safety

What is a Safety Use Zone?

Safety Use Zones are designated amounts of space (a buffer zone) the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends between each type of playground equipment to ensure that children playing on your playground are less vulnerable to potential fall or collision injuries. Below are some basic guidelines for determining your playground use zones:

diagram showing playground safety use zones

Climbers

Climbers should occupy a use zone that extends a minimum of 6’ in all directions from the perimeter of the climber

This use zone can overlap with neighboring equipment when:

  • Adjacent play surfaces are no more than 30” high OR
  • There is at least 9’ between equipment when adjacent designated play surfaces are more than 30” high

Shop Climbers


Slides

All slides should have an exit region to help children maintain their balance and facilitate a smooth transition from sitting to standing when exiting.

For Toddlers

  • At least 3’ around the perimeter of the slide
  • Use area at end of slide should not overlap with use zone for any other equipment

For Public Areas with Unlimited Access:

  • For stand-alone slide, at least 6’ around the perimeter
  • For slides that are part of a play structure, the minimum use zone between access components and the foot of the slide should be 3’
  • The foot of the use zone from the front foot of the slide should be at least 6’ without overlapping use zones from other equipment

For Preschool and School

  • A minimum of 6’ from the perimeter of the equipment for stand-alone slides
  • Front exit of slide should not overlap with use zone of other equipment
    With exception of another slide running parallel
  • For slides greater than 6’ hall, the use zone in front of its exit should be as long as the slide is high, up to 8’

Shop Freestanding Slides


Swings

The use zone in front of and behind the swing should be greater than to the sides of such a swing since children may deliberately attempt to exit from a single-axis swing while it is in motion.

  • Use zone in front and behind should be greater than to the sides of the swing to account for children jumping off the swing while in motion
  • For a belt swing seat, front-to-back use zone should allow twice the vertical distance from the pivot point to the top of the protective surfacing below
  • For a full bucket swing seat, the minimum front-to-back use zone should be twice the vertical distance from the top of the occupant’s sitting surface to the pivot point
  • Side-to side-use zone should be a minimum of 6 feet from the perimeter of the swing
  • Front-to-back use zones for swings should not overlap with any other use zone
  • Side-to-side use zones may overlap that of an adjacent swing structure or other play structure

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Playground Safety Surface

Why do I need safety surfacing instead of using the land as I already have it?

Regular soil and grass vary seasonally with the weather, it is wet or dry, the ratio of sand/dirt to clay, any tree roots, pipes or rocks that are hidden beneath the surface. Approved safety surfacing products are engineered to absorb the shock from a fall evenly, decreasing the risk of injuries.

How do I choose the right safety surface for my playground?

There are typically 3 factors that go into choosing the best safety surfacing option for you: Price, Durability, and Aesthetics.

Material Price Durability Aesthetics
Engineered Wood Fiber LOW LOW. Fibers break down through wear and tear and need to be refilled periodically. photo of wood fiber playground safety surface
Rubber Mulch MEDIUM MEDIUM-HIGH. Material does not break down with wear and tear, but loose rubber mulch can get blown or carried away and may need to be topped off. close-up photo of loose fill rubber mulch playground safety surface
Rubber Tile MEDIUM HIGH. Fixed rubber tiles are easy to install, won't get blown away or carried off, and require minimal maintenance. close-up of rubber tiles playground safety surface with slide in background
Artificial Turf MEDIUM-HIGH HIGH. Looks and feels like natural grass but with less maintenance and more cushion. Safety rated for 6' to 8' fall heights close-up of artificial turf playground safety surface
Poured Rubber MEDIUM-HIGH HIGH. Rubber is poured in place and little maintenance is necessary. close-up of poured in place rubber playground safety surface