Playground Safety

When shopping for commercial playground equipment be sure to verify the products you are looking at are true commercial designs. Some manufacturers advertise that their products meet commercial standards by upgrading the size of vertical post, or using larger bolts. However, those items have very little to do with determining if the products meet the safety standards and guidelines for commercial public play equipment. If you will be using your playground for anything other than single family residence backyard play, then you should not consider anything other than commercial equipment. Home Owners or Condo Associations, Private Schools and Day Cares, Church and Private Club Facilities, all require commercial products.

Here are some easy-to-remember key indicators that equipment may not be commercial:

  • Swing set attached to climber unit. Swing sets must be free standing with their own specific safe fall zone.
  • More than 2 swings in a swing bay or mixed swing types in a swing bay (e.g., Belt swing seat and a tot swing seat).
  • A tire swing must be free standing and not attached to any other structure unless it is part of a free standing multi-bay swing set. Radial Tires are not acceptable and Solid Plastic Tires specifically designed for tire swings use are highly recommended.
  • Single wall or half tube slides. These do not offer the required transition zones at the bottom that safely brings the child to a stop before reaching the end of the slide. Very important when children slide head first!
  • Hardware on a commercial system should be tamper proof and not easily removable with common household tools. If the system has nuts and bolts like you can find at a local hardware store it does not meet current safety guidelines.

For information on safety standards and guidelines you can contact the independent organizations listed below or call Park Central Playgrounds at (813) 412-5588.

ASTM International
100 Barr Harbor Drive
West Conshohocken,
PA 19428-2959
E-mail address: [email protected]

ASTM — The American Society for Testing and Materials
An independent organization that develops technical standards used in product testing. i.e.: the F1487 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specifications for Playground Equipment for Public Use.

CPSC — The Consumer Product Safety Commission.
An independent agency of the U.S. Federal Government. Has the authority to inform the public of current product safety performance information and recommended practices. Refer to the current CPSC Handbook for Public Playground Safety, publication #325, as a guide for owners and operators for public play environments.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Washington, D.C. 20207
E-mail address: [email protected]

Playground safety has become a major concern in recent years. With the increasing litigation over injury, guardians of public playground equipment have become aware that there are 3 main elements for success in providing a safe yet fun environment for child development.

  • Safe Setting
  • Age Appropriateness
  • Standard of Care Compliance

Playgrounds must provide activities that are appropriate for the physical, social, emotional and learning level of the children using the playground. And they must comply with the current standard care for public playgrounds. To this end a comprehensive plan must be developed to comply with the existing CPSC playground safety guidelines and the ASTM voluntary industry standards. For, according to Points About Playgrounds, a publication of the National Recreation and Park Association,

“An agency that is unaware of — or simply ignores — the current guidelines could run the risk of being negligent in the event that a child is seriously injured on a piece of playground equipment and legal action is taken.”


Public Playground Safety Handbook

Choosing the right safety surface for your playground

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.

Type of Mulch      Wood
Pricing      Low
Required Depth      9″ Compacted Must Be Certified Playground Mulch
Type of Mulch     Art Turf
Pricing     Medium
Required Depth     Depends on Height of Events
Type of Mulch       Rubber
Pricing       Medium
Required Depth       6″
Type of Mulch       Pour in Place Rubber
Pricing       Medium-High
Required Depth       Depends on Height of Events
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