Pre-Conference Institute – Effective Playground Protective Surfacing: The Elusive Goal

Rolf Huber, Canadian Playground Advisory Inc.
Ken Kutska, International Playground Safety Institute, Inc.

Every type of surface has the potential to fail to perform as expected.  Manufacturers and distributors are obligated to market the advantageous aspects of their products but what questions should the owner/purchaser be asking of the supplier.  Playgrounds are a place of wonder for all to enjoy irrespective of ability or age. Without the knowledge necessary to purchase the appropriate surface system for your playground you are likely to experience problems with maintaining your playground in compliance with the current public playground standards and guidelines.

Part One

The history if impact attenuation and severity of injury.

  • Mechanism of injury prevention and severity reduction
  • What is an acceptable injury to a child?
  • How many playground injuries are there per year?  What are most frequent types of injuries? What are the main cause of these injuries? What is the cost?
  • How many traumatic brain injuries are sustained on playgrounds annually?

Review the current Standard of Care for Public Playground Impact Attenuating Surfacing

  • US CPSC Handbook for Public Playground Safety
  • Other ASTM Standards related to impact attenuation for surfacing.

Injury Reduction: Can playground injuries be reduced let alone prevented?

With the goal of injury reduction in mind; we will discuss the impact of the owner, designer, and/or manufacturers’ intended design use of the playground equipment versus the reality of how a child plays in unforeseeable and unintended ways.

Since the performance of surfacing greatly contributes to the potential for injury prevention and/or reduction in injury severity we will discuss what the owner/designer should consider when designing for more challenging play in the public playground.

Part Two

This section will outline the problems associated with different types of surfacing systems, their materials, installation and maintenance issues, and the problems related to cross contamination of loose-fill and unitary surface systems.

  • Review the different types playground surfaces available today.
  • Discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and performance issues of each.

What goes wrong with surfacing? We will discuss the common problems of maintaining compliant surfacing regardless of the type.  What is an accessible surface?

  • Every playground must meet the ADA as a minimum.  Current practices often do not meet the requirements for the removal of architectural barriers for all.  As play people we understand graduated challenges, with an empathy for all.  Understanding the role of surfacing in providing full challenging play to everyone is the goal of this portion of the session.
  • What is the law on accessibility?
  • How is accessibility compliance measured?

Good Product Selection and Purchasing Practices

  • There is not a perfect surface – We will have a discussion with the entire group to consider what is a good surface and how it enhances play, protects children and allows access to everyone wanting to play or participate in play.

Best Defense Against Claims of Surfacing Non-Compliance

This and two other pre-conference institutes are available ONLY to conference attendees as an add-on option.  Cost to attend an institute is $25.  Pre-registration is required.