Go Above & Beyond on Playground Safety
The right surfacing under your play equipment is one of the most important elements of playground safety. Most of the injuries that occur on the playground happen when kids fall to the surface. But not all surfaces provide the same degree of protection. Even worse, many playground safety surfaces might not be as effective as they're supposed to be after installation. You can take steps to provide a safer playground by paying close attention to this crucial element.
Q: We are looking into the performance and effectiveness of various types of playground safety surfaces. What should we consider?
A: Manufacturers of playground safety surfaces can generally provide third-party test reports that will explain the performance of their products. However, it's important to remember that once the surface is installed, there are factors that can have an impact on the effectiveness of the surface. This means that the numbers provided by manufacturers may or may not be reflective of your safety surface's performance.
Talk to your manufacturer about the various elements that can affect the performance of your surface, from maintenance to weather, and more. And, don't forget that the more the surface is used, the less effective it may become. Some manufacturers offer post-installation field testing as part of the contract for a new surface. This can demonstrate the surface's effectiveness at your specific site. The clearest way to evaluate any safety surface is to conduct post-installation drop testing.
Q: How can we know if the surface is performing up to standards?
A: There are two ways to measure the effectiveness of safety surfaces: HIC and G-max. HIC, or Head Injury Criteria, measures impact severity, while G-max measures the maximum shock produced by an impact. Guidelines require surfaces to test lower than 1000 HIC and 200 G-max, but it's important to note that these are the maximum allowable thresholds. A surface that tests near these maximum levels is in reality very close to the end of its lifecycle.
For this reason, you need to look for a surface that achieves much lower scores than the maximum allowable thresholds.
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