True Performance: Playgrounds

plaground2The True Performance of your playground surface is critical in protecting your students, kids and community. It has been over 2 decades since ASTM F1292 and the measurement of Gmax and HIC was introduced to the playground market.  The industry has set firm upper limits for both of these properties. Gmax (that is the maximum deceleration during the impact) can not exceed 200 g’s. While the HIC (Head Injury Criteria) can not exceed 1000. Essentially that’s a fancy way of saying that today’s surfaces protect kids from catastrophic head injuries.

Many surfaces are sold as being certified, but that certification was achieved in the lab. It is the True Performance of your playground safety surface that protects your students and kids. Field testing is required to determine the true performance of new and existing playgrounds. True Performance specifications should involve testing of the newly installed surface, and may also involve followup testing at a later date. For example, if your surface has a 3 or 5 year performance guarantee you may also want to test the surface near the end of this period to make sure that its performance is still within the specification and that it has not deteriorated beyond what would be considered safe.

So what are the most common reasons for a playground not to meet Gmax and HIC requirements? We have included just a few of the examples we have encountered.

  • Insufficient material installed: Sometimes as little as 1/4″ less material that specified can be enough to cause the performance to exceed safe levels.
  • Improper components: Sometimes raw materials within the manufacturing process change without the manufacturing even knowing. These changes have caused performance to exceed safe levels.
  • Improper Installation: Using too much binder, or the wrong binder can alter performance, over compaction of material during installation can also cause Gmax and HIC levels to exceed safe levels.
  • Improper Maintenance: Specifically of loose fill playground surfacing. Surfaces like loose wood/rubber/engineered mulch require that the proper depth is maintained beneath equipment (swings and slides). Failure to redistribution or replace material can result in unsafe conditions.

The performance of your playground safety surface impacts a your students, kids and community. True Performance testing is the only way to be certain that it performs and protects as promised. Contact us today to develop your custom True Performance program for your new or existing sport surface.

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