Above Left: Engineered Wood Fiber Safety Surface (less than 1 month in use), Above Right: Poured In Place Safety Surface (3 years old)
All playground safety surfaces have their benefits, and none are without faults. Owners often forget that they need to maintain them in order for them to properly protect the children using them.
The cover photo shows a mulch playground that had been in use for less than 1 month. Already the material beneath the swings needs to be regraded to fill in the areas kicked out. It also shows a poured in place product that experienced the same ‘kick out’ beneath swings (in this case a tire swing). While the ‘Poured In Place’ product took longer for the damage to develop, the repair process was more extensive. The park department was repairing the area with additional mats to restore the proper Gmax and HIC head injury protection performance. Common kick-out areas include the areas beneath swings and at slide exits. Safety tiles are sometimes installed in these areas, but they too eventually wear and require attention.
Periodic field testing will indicate when and if the performance had deteriorated to the point that maintenance is needed. It can also verify that the maintenance activity resulted in proper head injury protection.