For practically any child, visiting a playground is a treat, but having a playground back home is a blessing. However, the luxury of home equipment should not bring home any recreational hazards. There are numerous anthropometric factors to consider in keeping children safe, as addressed by ASTM F1148-21: Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Home Playground Equipment.
Playground injuries are rampant. The leading cause of injury to children aged 5 to 14 in schools, playground injuries have led to over 200,000 emergency room visits in a single year. At the home, while playground injuries are far less numerous, these injuries are notoriously more fatal. In fact, between 1990 and 2001, at least 147 children died from playground equipment-related injuries. Almost 70 percent of these deaths took place on home playgrounds.
What is Home Playground Equipment?
According to ASTM F1148-21, home playground equipment is “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.”
How ASTM F1148-21 Keeps Home Playgrounds Safe
As a consumer safety specification, ASTM F1148-21 provides safety guidelines for various types of home playground equipment intended for use by children aged from over 18 months through 10 years. The document specifically excludes fitness equipment unless attached to the play equipment, and it does not apply to juvenile care products. Different age limits for various guidelines are found throughout the specification.
The leading cause of playground equipment-related fatalities is strangulation. Nonfatal playground equipment-related injuries are generally associated with falls. As such, ASTM F1148-21 details guidelines addressing these issues. For example, it helps mitigate the severity and likelihood of falls by covering slide ladders, jungle gyms, and numerous other components common to playground equipment. It also touches upon head and neck entrapment and gives guidance for openings, ropes, and other components that could influence strangulation.
However, strangulation and falls are only two examples of the many hazards that ASTM F1148-21 gives guidance to mitigate. In addressing a plethora of additional hazards, such as sharp edges, small parts, crush and shear points, swing elements, hardware, and clearances, the standard specification helps to assure safety in slides, merry-go-rounds, swings, and other types of playground equipment (for some, it features figures), ultimately helping to keep playtime safe for kids at home.
Please note that ASTM F1148-21 is a voluntary consensus standard, and users should follow any relevant regulations, as well as the guidance of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Public Safety Handbook.
The ASTM F1148 standard also does not eliminate the need for parental supervision. In fact, it explicitly states that manufacturers should include the recommendation for on-site adult supervision in the operating instructions of any home playground equipment.
ASTM F1148-21: Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Home Playground Equipment is available on the ANSI Webstore.