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 November 2005 Tech News

New and Revised Playground Standards Reflect Industry Changes

ASTM International Committee F15 on Consumer Products has revised a current standard and developed an important new one, both designed to keep children safe while they’re having fun.

The residential play equipment industry is constantly changing, with new materials and components being introduced to the market every year. ASTM International Subcommittee F15.09 on Home Playground Equipment has recently revised an important standard, F 1148, Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Home Playground Equipment, to reflect some of the latest developments in the industry.

According to Teri Hendy, a design and safety consultant for children’s products and equipment, one of the latest innovations in the playground industry is the introduction of electrically powered constant air inflatable devices. These inflatable structures can include climbing walls, slides, bounce houses and swimming pools all combined in one large composite play opportunity. Subcommittee F15.09 considered how electrically powered constant air inflatable devices could fit into F 1148, but ultimately decided to exclude them from the standard, because they are so different in materials and construction from anything else covered under F 1148. Instead, F15.09 has recommended that a separate subcommittee be formed specifically for this type of product.

Hendy says that manufacturers of residential play equipment use F 1148 to design and fabricate their products. “The standard is based on industry experience, injury data, anthropometric criteria, knowledge of child development, as well as risk reduction factors,” says Hendy. “F 1148 gives manufacturers a good starting place when considering the development of a residential playground product.”

An upcoming set of recommendations for residential playground equipment to be published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is largely based on F 1148. “We are hopeful that with the introduction of the CPSC handbook that the public will become more aware of the importance of purchasing play equipment that meets the recommendations of the standards,” says Hendy.

Subcommittee F15.09 is always seeking participation in the development and revision of its standards. “We welcome new members and encourage everyone that is involved in the design, manufacturing, sales, marketing and use of residential play equipment to attend our meetings,” says Hendy, who also notes that F15.09 meetings are open to consumer participation and that people who cannot attend the meetings are encouraged to participate as well, by consulting meeting minutes, communicating with the subcommittee chair and submitting proposals or recommendations for committee consideration.

Also, anyone who is interested in joining the new subcommittee on electrically powered constant air inflatable devices can contact Katharine Morgan, ASTM International, for more information (see contact information below).

While F 1148 covers equipment for children 18 months to 10 years old, and another important playground standard, F 1487, Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use, covers children from two to 12 years old, there has been a great need for a standard that deals with products intended for children two years old and younger. This need has now been met with a newly approved standard, F 2373, Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Public Use Play Equipment for Children Six Months to 24 Months. F 2373 is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee F15.44 on Play Equipment for Children Under Two.

Elizabeth Caesar, president, Playcare, Inc., says that F 2373 will be applied to indoor and outdoor active play settings for children under two in both childcare settings and in public parks. “Children this age are literally driven to move and therefore are in constant motion,” says Caesar. “The play environment for these children needs to be developmentally appropriate and safe.”

Caesar notes that F 1487 and other existing standards are now widely applied in childcare center playgrounds where children under the age of two play. However, these standards don’t account for the kind of close supervision that is provided in early childcare settings, nor do they take into consideration the reduced space available in indoor settings. Applying F 2373 will make these settings safer for children two and younger.

The subcommittee will meet to review feedback on preliminary usage of the standard and to add items to the standard if needed. Caesar notes that new participation will be welcome at the subcommittee’s next meeting in February 2006.

CONTACT:

Technical Information (F 1148): Teri Hendy, Site Masters Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio
Phone: 513/922-1499

Technical Information (F 2373): Elizabeth Caesar, Playcare Inc., Wawa, Pa.
Phone: 610/558-3113

ASTM staff: Katharine Morgan
Phone: 610/832-9721

Upcoming Meeting: Feb. 6-9, 2006, January-February Committee Week, Phoenix, Ariz.

 
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