Public playgrounds provide children with a communal, carefree environment. It’s not only ideal but implied that all playground equipment remains safe. Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are over 200,000 annual injuries on public playgrounds. And this only includes injuries that resulted in trips to the emergency room.
The most common contribution to these injuries, accounting for three-fourths of the unwanted circumstances, is falls. Additional hazards derive from impact by swings, crush or shear points, contact with protrusions, and sharp edges. ASTM F1487-21: Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use exists to limit the likelihood of these life-threatening or debilitating injuries.
About ASTM F1487-21
ASTM F1487-21 is a performance specification that addresses safety and performance standards for various types of public playground equipment. Specifically, the document encompasses equipment for the 5th percentile 2-year-old through the 95th percentile 12-year-old range. It does not include site furnishings, such as benches, tables, and other structures, installed outside of the equipment zone use.
To limit the possibility of falls on public playground equipment, ASTM F1487-21 sets forth several stipulations. A major part of this is installing handrails, guardrails, and barriers on different surfaces, including stairways, ramps, stepladders, and platforms. By including these and their recommended dimensions, the standard specification helps obstruct the means by which falls can occur. The document also includes guidance on the design of ramps and accessible openings.
While falls account for most injuries in public playgrounds, they make up only a fraction of the total hazards. ASTM F1487-21 includes guidance on ways to limit these other hazards, such as protrusions. It also touches upon general guidelines that can prevent an assortment of dangers from faulty equipment, such as using noncorrosive metals or those that have been treated, using wood that is unlikely to rot, and assuring that users of the playground equipment cannot ingest or inhale any materials.
ASTM F1487-21: Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use is available on the ANSI Webstore.
Other Guidance for Public Playground Safety
The ASTM F1487-21 performance specification has been significantly harmonized with CAN/CSA-Z614, the Canadian standard for children’s playspaces and equipment.
Regardless of the safety considerations incorporated into the design of public playgrounds, injuries can often be unavoidable without proper parental supervision. In fact, lack of supervision is associated with 40 percent of playground injuries. ASTM F1487-21 does not eliminate the need for parental supervision.
Please note that these guidelines are only applicable to certain types of public playgrounds. You can learn more about the standard specification for home playground equipment by reading our other post: ASTM F1148-21: Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Home Playground Equipment.
For a comprehensive list of the other playground standards published by ASTM International, please refer to: ASTM Playground Standards.
The Public Playground Safety Handbook, also known as Publication #325, was published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), most recently in November 2010. It was first published in 1981 under the name A Handbook for Public Playground Safety. The recommendations in the handbook are focused on playground-related injuries, and they continue to be updated as innovations in technology result in new playground equipment and surfacing practices.