ASTM's Role in Standards Development: Keeping Children Safe on Playgrounds

    Many product safety standards are developed using the ASTM International consensus process, which gives all participants an equal voice. These voluntary standards help enhance safety and performance, giving people more confidence in the things they buy and use.

    Playground standards were developed by ASTM in the 1980s to provide a common approach to requirements for equipment and for comparing surface materials. Today, the standards are relied on by states, local jurisdictions and school boards as well as by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    Two ASTM committees are engaged in this work: F15 on Consumer Products and F08 on Sports Equipment, Playing Surfaces and Facilities. Both have a role in helping reduce the risk of injury for children on playgrounds.

    • More than 350 members are in subcommittees F15.09 and F15.29, maintaining standards for home and public playground equipment, respectively.
    • More than 150 members are in subcommittee F08.63, which focuses on the surfacing under that equipment, loose-fill rubber and engineered wood fiber used on playgrounds, and impact attenuation of surfacing materials.

    Equipment and surfacing manufacturers, testing laboratories, playground owners, government officials, consultants, consumer advocates and the general public work on these subcommittees. ASTM members from many countries are involved.

    The equipment standards — Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Home Playground Equipment (F1148) and Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use (F1487) — include requirements for various types of equipment to reduce life threatening and debilitating injuries. These standards cover materials, manufacturing, general requirements, performance requirements, layout installation, structural integrity, signage and labels.

    Surfacing standards include engineered wood fiber (F2075), poured in place surfacing (F2479), loose-fill rubber (F3012), surface system accessibility (F1951) and an overall guide (F2223). These standards all reference F1292, Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment.

    F1292: Further Reducing Risk

    The F1292 standard establishes minimum impact requirements to reduce the risk of severe head injury from falls, which data shows is a significant cause of playground injuries. The standard includes a critical fall height test and an installed surface performance test, which quantify impact through g-max and head injury criterion (HIC) scores. Conformance requires a g-max score not exceeding 200 g and a HIC score not exceeding 1,000.

    F1292, which was revised in 2013, is being reviewed again by Subcommittee F08.63. The subcommittee, which must have balanced representation from producers and users, has voted on revisions such as changing the HIC value. Currently, there are negative votes that must be addressed per ASTM’s due process requirements

    Both F08 and F15 hold regular meetings to continually review and revise standards as necessary. Committee F08 will meet Nov. 17-20 and Committee F15 will meet Nov. 16-18, both in Tampa, Florida. ASTM welcomes participation in the development of its standards. Become a member at www.astm.org/JOIN.

    For more information about Committee F15, contact Leonard Morrissey (tel +1.610.832.9719). For more information about Committee F08, contact Joe Koury (tel +1.610.832.9804).

    For media inquiries, contact Nathan Osburn (+1.610.832.9603).