Beyond SOP

Due to the ever increasing number of home playgrounds and recent updates from the CPSC I have started including this info along with an explaination that none of the equipment present was inspected.
Consumer Product Safety Commission

Home Playground Safety Tips

CPSC Document #323

Each year, about 200,000 children are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for playground equipment-related injuries - an estimated 148,000 of these injuries involve public playground equipment and an estimated 51,000 involve home playground equipment. Also, about 15 children die each year as a result of playground equipment-related incidents. Most of the injuries are the result of falls. These are primarily falls to the ground below the equipment, but falls from one piece of equipment to another are also reported. Most of the deaths are due to strangulations, though some are due to falls.

  1. Protective Surfacing - Since almost 60% of all injuries are caused by falls to the ground, protective surfacing under and around all playground equipment can reduce the risk of serious head injury.

Falls on asphalt and concrete can result in serious head injury and death. Do not place playground equipment over these surfaces. Also grass and turf lose their ability to absorb shock through wear and environmental conditions. Always use protective surfacing.

Certain loose-fill surfacing materials are acceptable, such as the types and depths shown in the table.

Certain manufactured synthetic surfaces also are acceptable; however, test data on shock absorbing performance should be requested from the manufacturer.

Fall Height In Feet From Which A Life Threatening **
Head Injury Would Not Be Expected
Type of Material

6 "Depth

9 " Depth

12" Depth
Double Shredded Bark Mulch****
Wood Chips****
Fine Sand****
Fine Gravel****

  1. Use Zones - A use zone, covered with a protective surfacing material, is essential under and around equipment where a child might fall. This area should be free of other equipment and obstacles onto which a child might fall.

Stationary climbing equipment and slides should have a use zone extending a minimum of 6’ in all directions from the perimeter of the equipment.

Swings should have a use zone extending a minimum of 6’ from the outer edge of the support structure on each side. The use zone in front and back of the swing should extend out a minimum distance of twice the height of the swing as measured from the ground to the swing hangers on support structure.

  1. Swing Spacing - To prevent injuries from impact with moving swings, swings should not be too close together or too close to support structures. Swing spacing should be:
  • At least 8 inches between suspended swings and between a swing and the support frame.
  • At least 16 inches from suing support frame to a pendulum see- saw.
  • Minimum clearance between the ground and underside of swing seat should be 8 inches.
  • Swing sets should be securely anchored.
  1. Elevated Surfaces - Platforms more than 30" above the ground should have guardrails to prevent falls.

  2. Potential Head Entrapment Hazards - In general, openings that are closed on all sides, should be less than 3 1/2" or greater than 9". Openings that are between 3’ 1/2" and 9" present a head entrapment hazard because they are large enough to permit a child’s body to go trough, but are too small to permit the head to go trough. When children enter such openings, feet first, they may become entrapped by the head and strangle.

  3. Potential Entrapment and Strangulation Hazards - Open “S” hooks, especially on swings, and any protrusions or equipment component/hardware which may act as hooks or catch-points can entangle with children’s clothing and cause strangulation incidents. Close “S” hooks as tightly as possible and eliminate protrusions or catch-points on playground equipment.

  4. Pinch or Crush Points - There should be no exposed moving parts which may present a pinching or crushing hazard.

  5. Playground Maintenance - Playgrounds should be inspected on a regular basis. Inspect protective surfacing especially mulch, and maintain the proper depth. If any of the following conditions are noted, they should be removed, corrected or repaired immediately to prevent injuries:

  • Hardware is loose or worn, or that has protrusions or projections.
  • Ropes, and items with cords placed around the neck can get caught on playground equipment and strangle a child. Many children have died when a rope they were wearing got caught on playground equipment, or they became entangled in a rope.
  • Supervise, and teach your child safe play. Teach your child not to walk or play close to a moving swing, and not to tie ropes to playground equipment.
  • Exposed equipment footings.
  • Scattered debris, litter, rocks, or tree roots.
  • Rust and chipped paint on metal components.
  • Splinters, large cracks, and decayed wood components.
  • Deterioration and corrosion on structural components which connect to the ground.
  • Missing or damaged equipment components, such as handholds, guardrails, swing seats.
    CPSC Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook

CPSC Public Playground Safety Handbook](

Nice info big B

Now we know who spends all his time at the playground, ha. ha.

Nice, Grandpa. :wink:

Marcel :slight_smile: :smiley:

Thanks Barry.

For those who didn’t go to the link, here is chart.


Good info,thanks Barry.

Good info.

I don’t quite get the chart though. A 4 or 5 year old falling from 11 feet onto any surface could produce serious injuries. I would define serious as an injury that is not life-threatening, but rather life altering in such a way as to require continued medical care or other hardship (ie. paralysis)

I know the chart deals specifically with “life threatening injuries” and more specifically “head injuries”, but I think it could be misleading in the fact that people may think their children are “safe” with the recommended materials.

I haven’t read the whole article - just saw the chart - but I would imagine the depth of material at “some point” becomes very compact and won’t “give” 12" of fine sand - for example.

I say this not as a liability issue, but a true safety/educational issue.


I will add that all of the other info is top notch, the chart does bother me, though

end edit

When I was growing up the school yard we played in had it’s monkey bars, jungle gym, teeter totter, and more on a blacktop surface.

How ever did we manage to survive?

I’m not knocking playground safety but I find it amazing how the things have changed.
Since I don’t think we are any smarter now than then I can only assume that that we as a culture are are less and less willing to take on personal risk and more and more willing to blame someone else when accidents happen.

I suppose that explains the frost free, heated flag poles.

James, are you an unfortunate “victim” of a frosty flag pole? :wink:

If you don’t do a physical inspection on the equipment, but just include pertinent safety information, that cannot be considered going beyond the SOP, can it?

I heard that most elementary schools and daycares are all but removing playground equipment due to insurance and liability. Next thing will be the issues of CFL bulbs. Anyone doing disclaimers on these bulbs yet?

Nothing in the world worse than having your tongue stuck to a frozen flagpole…with your jock strap flapping at half-mast overhead.

The girls were really tough at my grade school.:frowning:

As did I. I didn’t even see a “protected surface” in a playground untill I was in High School.
I remember very distinctly a childhood friend (we were 8 or so) falling from a 8 foot or so slide face down on to the pavement. There was a firehouse right next to the “playground” which I ran to for help.

Mike you seem like a smart guy, I’m surprised you would use this logic.
Not that I haven’t made similar comments, when my son was born, about car seats, playpens, walkers, etc. :wink:
The reality is that while “we” survived, there are many that didn’t because of the lack of safety awarness. I cringe when I see kids riding bikes without a helmet, even though I never owned one 'till recently.

“From January 1990 to August 2000, CPSC received reports of 147 deaths to children younger than 15 that involved playground equipment.”

I dissagree, I think we are more aware of safety and how to prevent injuries than we have been in the past. The speed of communication regarding tragedy (and everything else) is faster than at any time in history, thus people are more apt to learn from the mistakes of others.

I also agree wholeheartedly with this. There are more “warnings” on products then ever before. Many of these warnings are common sense items, which are clearly a result of litigation or threat of litigation.


Not disclaimers (I don’t inspect light bulbs), education (so the cust knows what to do if they break/when they burn out).

Ha ha ha ,I do inspect light bulbs

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DSCN0083 (Small).JPG

Breaking them does not constitute an inspection! :wink:

I appreciate your comments Richard.

I used to read a lot of science fiction and in Larry Niven’s RingWorld series there was a race called Pierson’s Puppeteers. They were a race of cowards that was so risk adverse only the insane would even consider piloting a space craft.

I chuckle every time I see our culture heading in the same direction.

And yes all my kids had car seats. But they didn’t have bike helmets.:wink: