Playground Shock Pads

May 30, 2024

Hello everyone. J-dub here. I hope you are having a great day.
In my last vlog, I discussed the evolution of playground surfaces, from pea gravel and wood chips to foam shock padding.

Well today, I will begin a new series on synthetic turf playground testing and playground components.
I will discuss shock pads, the dos and don’ts, and how installing a playground incorrectly may cause injuries and possibly cost you your business.
What are shock pads? They’re not just foam padding. They’re the most effective way to enhance safety.
Shock pads are normally placed on top of a compacted base and under synthetic turf.
Shock pads are made from various types of recycled foam materials that provide a soft, cushiony surface with excellent impact attenuation.
What is “Impact Attenuation”? Impact Attenuation measures a playground surface’s shock-absorbing properties.
Playground surfaces tested for Impact Attenuation reduce the risk of all types of injuries, especially brain injuries that fall below the HIC numbers.
Shock pads that pass the HIC test make them the ideal choice for playgrounds, significantly reducing the risk of injuries.

What is HIC? HIC…Head- Injury- Criteria… HIC is the rating system that tests the safety of a recreational surface. This certification measures the impact severity and computes the risk of head trauma.

HIC is essential to regulating and ensuring that playground surfaces and materials meet the required safety standards. The primary goal of safety surfacing on a playground is to prevent fatal injuries, with a focus on head-related injuries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and ASTM International have created playground safety regulations and standards to ensure that our parks, schools, and recreational areas provide safe places for kids to play.

These specifications outline guidelines for playground surfaces and materials to ensure sufficient impact absorption and include test methods for measuring their performance.
Two test methods are mainly used to determine the impact attenuation of playground surfaces: the critical fall height test and the installed surface performance test.
These test methods simulates the impact of a child’s head on the surface and measures the impact in terms of g-max and Head Injury Criterion (HIC) scores.
G-max measures the highest acceleration produced by an impact, while the HIC score is a factual measurement of impact severity based on research on the relationship between impact accelerations and the risk of head trauma.
To perform these tests, you will need to hire a certified tester or have specific equipment to perform these tests… or give me a shout, and I’ll assist you.

ASTM has developed over 12,000 technical performance standards that are used worldwide. If you want to install synthetic turf playgrounds, you may want to learn the ASTM standards. Here are a few that need to be acknowledged.

• The use/Fall Zone…The use and fall zone is the surface under and around the equipment onto which a child who accidentally falls or exits from the equipment would be expected to land.

• CFH (Critical Fall Height) Critical fall height measures how well a surface absorbs impact, providing insight into how well the surface can protect against Injury.

• ASTM 1292-22 – ASTM 1292-22 is the specification for impact attenuation of surfacing materials within the use zone of playground equipment.

• ASTM 1951-21 – This specification determines the accessibility of the surface systems under and around the playground equipment.

There are so many more that pertain to fall surfaces that you may want to research and get educated about.

I often get asked many questions. How do I know if a playground needs a shock pad?
Or… How do I determine the critical fall height, and where are the fall zones in the playground, and how will this affect the installation?
Well, these are great questions that need to be asked before installing any playground surface.
Please join me next time, and I will answer those questions plus many more and go into further detail regarding the components, dos and don’ts, and everything you will need to know about installing synthetic turf playgrounds.
Until next time… JW OUT!!!

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