Playground surfaces and equipment are the subject of a number of ASTM standards which are listed here and summarized briefly for reference. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined injuries reported between 2001 -2013 and concluded playground concussions are on the rise.
ASTM standards for playgrounds and playground equipment specify performance criteria, test methods and safety considerations. Equipment and fencing along with the playground surfaces contribute to the safety and accessibility of playgrounds. Public playgrounds and home playgrounds represent different issues, so some ASTM standards address them separately. Another distinction is made based on the different age limits that reflect the physical and mental abilities of the children. These standards in general are intended to reduce the likelihood of life-threatening or debilitating injuries.
ASTM Standards for Public Playgrounds
ASTM F2373-11(R2017) Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Public Use Play Equipment for Children 6 Months through 23 Months
Public Use Play Equipment for Children 6 Months through 23 Months
This consumer safety performance specification provides safety and performance requirements for various types of public use play equipment such as, but not limited to, composite play structures, climbing structures, to-fro swings, spring rocking equipment, and slides. It is intended to apply to play equipment that is used in places of public assembly, including early care and education facilities, parks, or playgrounds. Public use play areas for children in this age range include both indoor (classroom) settings and outdoor playgrounds. Where appropriate, distinctions will be made between indoor and outdoor settings where there is supervision (for example, a play area that is part of an early care and education facility), and settings with unlimited access (for example, public playgrounds and parks).
The range of users encompassed by this consumer safety performance specification is the 5th percentile 6 month old through the 95th percentile 23 month old.
The purpose of this specification is to reduce the potential for life threatening and debilitating injuries.
Accessory toys attached to play equipment must meet all relevant standards including this consumer safety performance specification.
Home playground equipment, amusement park equipment, sports equipment, fitness equipment, soft contained play equipment, tricycles, toys, juvenile care products such as, but not limited to, infant swings, play yards, expansion gates, and expandable enclosures, furniture (including child-sized house play furnishings and sand/water tables intended primarily for indoor use), bassinets and cradles, infant walkers, bouncer seats, jumpers, infant stationary activity centers, and infant carriers are not included in the scope of this specification.
ASTM F1487-17 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use
Public Use Play Equipment for Children 2 Years through 12 Years
This consumer safety performance specification provides safety and performance standards for various types of public playground equipment. Its purpose is to reduce life-threatening and debilitating injuries.
The range of users encompassed by this consumer safety performance specification is the 5th percentile 2-year-old through the 95th percentile 12-year-old.
Home playground equipment, toys, amusement rides, sports equipment, fitness equipment intended for users over the age of 12, public use play equipment for children 6 to 24 months, and soft contained play equipment are not included in this specification.
Products or materials (site furnishings) that are installed outside the equipment use zone, such as benches, tables, independent shade structures, and borders used to contain protective surfacing, are not considered playground equipment and are not included in this specification.
This specification does not address accessibility, except as it pertains to safety issues not covered in the DOJ 2010 Standard for Accessible Design.
ASTM Standards for Home Playgrounds
ASTM F1148-20 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Home Playground Equipment
Home Playground Equipment
This consumer safety specification provides safety requirements for various types of home playground equipment intended for use by children aged from over eighteen months through 10 years. It further provides such requirements for swings intended specifically for toddlers. Different age limits for various requirements are found in this specification. These limits reflect the nature of the hazards and the expected mental or physical ability, or both, of the child to cope with the hazards.
Home playground equipment is defined as any product in which the support structure remains stationary while the activity is taking place and is intended for a child to perform any of the following activities: climbing, swinging, sliding, rocking, spinning, crawling, or creeping, or combination thereof. Methods of identifying products that comply with this consumer safety specification are given.
Fitness equipment is specifically excluded unless attached to the play equipment. This specification is not intended to apply to juvenile care products such as, but not limited to, infant swings, playpens/enclosures, beds, or furniture (including outdoor furniture, such as picnic tables, cradle rockers, activity centers being used as walker substitutes, bouncers, jumpers, infant carriers, and products specifically designed for therapeutic use). This specification is not intended to apply to equipment to be used in places of public assembly such as schools, nurseries, day-care centers, and parks. Equipment intended to be in child-care centers in private homes is not exempt from the requirements of this specification. Such centers are defined as situations in which the child-care provider does not care for more than six children under the age of ten that are not residing in the household of the caregiver, and the total number of children under the age of ten does not exceed ten, including the caregiver’s own children. Electrically operated constant air inflatable devices are exempted from the requirements of this specification.
ASTM F2075-20 Standard Specification for Engineered Wood Fiber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface Under and Around Playground Equipment
Engineered Wood Fiber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface
This specification establishes minimum characteristics for those factors that determine particle size, consistency, purity, and ability to drain.
Engineered wood fiber that meets the requirements of this specification must comply with Specification F1292, if the surface is in the use zone as defined in Specification F1487.
A sample of wood fiber that meets the requirements of this specification may be designated engineered wood fiber and be suitable for playground safety surfacing.
This specification does not imply that an injury cannot be incurred if the engineered wood fiber complies with this specification.
ASTM F2479-17 Standard Guide for Specification, Purchase, Installation and Maintenance of Poured-In-Place Playground Surfacing
Poured-In-Place Playground Surfacing
This guide covers information with regard to the design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of poured-in-place playground surfaces.
Note 1—This document is a guide and not intended to be used as a specification; it should be used for educational purposes.
This guide outlines the issues of compliance with existing standards, durability, and functional longevity.
This guide reviews issues such as edge treatment, abutting surfaces, and combinations with other surfaces designed for circulation or protective surfaces.
This guide presents maintenance considerations and general procedures that should be followed by the owner/operator.
This guide outlines aging considerations such as loss of impact absorption, cracking, shrinkage, heaving, and how to prevent, accommodate, or rectify those issues.
This guide presents warranty considerations.
ASTM F3012-14 Standard Specification for Loose-Fill Rubber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface under and around Playground Equipment
Loose-Fill Rubber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface
This specification establishes test methods and performance requirements for particle size distribution, extractable hazardous metal content, total lead content, tramp metal content, and sharp tramp metal content for loose-fill rubber that is intended to be used as a playground surface.
This specification does not contain test methods or performance requirements for the accessibility of loose-fill rubber playground surfacing. The specification also does not establish test methods or performance requirements to characterize the release of organic chemicals from loose-fill rubber intended to be used as a playground surface. Appendix X1 and Appendix X2 contain additional information on these topics.
If loose-fill rubber which meets the requirements of this standard is to be installed in the use zone of playground equipment, it must also comply with Specification F1292.
ASTM F2223-19a Standard Guide for ASTM Standards on Playground Surfacing
Guide for Selecting Surfacing Systems
This guide covers standards for selecting and specifying surface systems under and around playground equipment.
This guide describes how to apply existing ASTM standards to evaluate the impact attenuation, accessibility characteristics and product characteristics when selecting surfacing systems for use under and around playground equipment.
ASTM F1292-18 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials Within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment
Specification for Impact Attenuation of Playground Surfacing Materials
This specification establishes minimum performance requirements for the impact attenuation of playground surfacing materials installed within the use zone of playground equipment.
This specification is specific to surfacing used in conjunction with playground equipment, such as that described in Specifications F1148, F1487, F1918, F1951, and F2075.
This specification establishes an impact attenuation performance criterion for playground surfacing materials; expressed as a critical fall height.
This specification establishes procedures for determining the critical fall height of playground surfacing materials under laboratory conditions. The laboratory test is mandatory for surfaces to conform to the requirements of this specification.
The laboratory test required by this specification addresses the performance of dry surfacing materials.
The critical fall height of a playground surfacing material determined under laboratory conditions does not account for important factors that have the potential to influence the actual performance of installed surfacing materials. Factors that are known to affect surfacing material performance include but are not limited to aging, moisture, maintenance, exposure to temperature extremes (for example, freezing), exposure to ultraviolet light, contamination with other materials, compaction, loss of thickness, shrinkage, submersion in water, and so forth.
This specification also establishes a procedure for testing installed playground surfaces in order to determine whether an installed playground surface meets the specified performance criterion.
The results of a field test determine conformance of installed playground surfacing materials with the criterion of this specification and are specific to the ambient conditions under which the test was performed.
The impact attenuation specification and test methods established in this specification are specific to the risk of head injury. There is only limited evidence that conformance with the requirements of this specification reduces the risk of other kinds of serious injury (for example, long bone fractures).
Note 1—The relative risk of fatality and of different degrees of head injury may be estimated using the information in Appendix X1, which shows the relationships between the Head Injury Criterion (HIC) scores of an impact and the probability of head injury.
ASTM F1951-14 Standard Specification for Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment
Determination of Accessibility of Playground Surface Systems
This specification establishes minimum characteristics for those factors that determine accessibility. This specification applies to all types of materials that can be used under and around playground equipment.
The material under and around playground equipment that meets this specification must also comply with Specification F1292 if the surface is within the fall zone.
ASTM F2049-11 (2017) Standard Safety Performance Specification for Fences/Barriers for Public, Commercial, and Multi-Family Residential Use Outdoor Play Areas
Safety Performance Specification for Fences Barriers for Play Areas
This specification provides the recommended minimum requirements for denoting various types of fences/barriers for the protection of children’s outdoor play spaces in public, commercial, and multi-family residential use locations. This specification excludes individual single family residential use play equipment locations. Interior fences located in a play area that has a perimeter fence established shall only have to comply with the latch height requirement indicated in 7.6.2.
This specification provides for the safety of occupants in play areas or zones as it pertains to vehicular intrusion as well as other participant intrusion, and for children containment or entry/exit. This specification has the intent to also keep children inside a predetermined area in an effort to enhance supervision; to keep children from running out of the area into water and other hazards; to minimize the likelihood of facial lacerations on low gate and fence hardware; to minimize the likelihood of abduction; and to restrict access to railroads, highways, roads, and other such hazards.
This specification does not choose the product components for the fence system, the choice of which should be made by the operators of the play space and their specification writers or drafters based upon their determination of the merits of the products that could be used.
Soft Contained Play Equipment
ASTM F1918-12(2017) Standard Safety Performance Specification for Soft Contained Play Equipment
Safety Performance Specification for Soft Contained Play Equipment
This safety performance specification provides safety and performance standards for soft contained play equipment. Its purpose is to reduce the potential for life-threatening and debilitating injuries.
The range of users encompassed by this safety performance specification is the 5th percentile 2 year old to the 95th percentile 12 year old.
Public playground equipment, home playground equipment, sports equipment, amusement rides, fitness equipment not part of the play system, water-related attractions and devices, and toys and juvenile products are not included in this specification.
This specification does not address accessibility, except as it pertains to safety issues not covered in The Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).
Read a related ANSI Blog post about the European Norms for Playground Safety.