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Processional Considerations in Design of Public Playspaces

Understanding Risk of Unacceptable Injury and Functional Longevity

Every type of surface has the potential to fail to perform as expected. Manufacturers and distributors feel obligated to market the advantageous aspects of their products but what questions should the designer/owner/purchaser be asking of the supplier that they might not be disclosing. Playgrounds are a place of wonder for all to enjoy irrespective of ability or age. Without the knowledge necessary to purchase the appropriate surface system for your playground you are likely to experience problems with maintaining your playground in compliance with the current public playground standards and guidelines.

Topics Covered

Considerations for a risk assessment by the designer of the playground is steered by surfacing choices.

  • What are the relevant Health and Safety Standards in place
  • The distinction between Professional Judgement and Opinion
  • The history of Impact Attenuation and severity of injury.
  • Mechanism of Injury Prevention and Severity Reduction
  • Understanding Risk Assessment Standards and Definitions
  • What is an acceptable injury to a child?
  • How many playground injuries are there per year?
  • What are the main causes of these injuries?
  • What are the most frequent types of injuries?
  • What is the cost?
  • How many traumatic brain injuries are sustained on playgrounds annually?

Review the current Standards of care for Public Playground Impact Attenuating Surfacing

  • CSA Z614, published in 2020, contains the old performance requirements and a new risk assessment option
  • ASTM F1487, when published will contain a non-mandatory Risk Assessment annex
  • US CPSC Handbook for Public Playground Safety
  • Other ISO and ASTM Standards related to Impact attenuation for surfacing.

Learning Objectives

Understand Injury Reduction: Can playground injuries be reduced in frequency or severity, let alone prevented? Do the designer/owner/operators hold liability for the outcomes of their designs and specifications?

Understand that children use the playground in unintended ways. With the goal of injury reduction in mind; we will discuss the impact on the owner, designer, and/or manufacturers of intended and designed use of the playground equipment versus the reality of how a child plays in foreseeable and unintended ways.

Understanding that the outcome of injuries by frequency and severity are based on the balance between playground challenge and surface performance. Since the performance of surfacing greatly contributes to the potential for injury prevention and/or reduction in injury severity we will discuss what the owner/designer should consider when designing for more challenging play in the public playground.

Understand the problems associated with different types of surfacing systems, their materials, installation and maintenance issues, and the problems related to cross contamination of loose-fill and unitary surface systems.

  • Review the different types of playground surfaces available today.
  • Discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and performance issues of each.

Understand what goes wrong with surfacing? We will discuss the common problems of maintaining compliant surfacing regardless of the type. What is an accessible surface?

Topics Covered by Section

Section 1 covers the issues and definitions of risk assessment for playgrounds in various standards. What is risk and how to identify hazards and understand how they relate to injury severity in the playground.

Section 2 covers the statistical evidence of injuries in playgrounds and the various standards related to playgrounds. Important in these standards is knowing the injury prevention with standards and determine if the level of injury prevention meets the injury prevention goals of the designer and/or owner/operator.

Section 3 covers the history of head impact injury and values related to severity. These values have been carried into Standards and it is the role of the designer and owner/operator to determine if these meet their needs.

Section 4 covers the influence height from which a child falls or velocity at the point of impact has on the outcome or severity of the injury. This would include a practical and visual discussion of where children fall from.

Section 5 summarizes the prevention of injuries related to impact with the surface and an introduction to ASTM F3351, Specified Height Test. There will also be a suggestion of how ASTM F3351 can be used to specify surfacing systems that provide better injury prevention and functional longevity. It is important for the designer and owner/operator to understand that when a surface no longer meets the minimum impact attenuation


Accuracy Through Compliance to Standards & Testing