Home > News > Playground equipment-What's the Requirements we will face ?
Playground equipment-What's the Requirements we will face ?

Playground equipment-What's the Requirements we will face ?


Where is the playground surfacing industry going in the near term? I wish I could give you a definitive answer. I will attempt to enlighten you, but what I will not do is give you the answer you all need. It is time to roll up your sleeves and do some good old fashion homework. There is no excuse for not being informed on the many variables that impact your purchasing decisions. Yes, it might make sense to hire a consultant; however, buyer beware. When it comes to listening to what you are being told or what you read in marketing literature, always consider the information and source with an open and inquisitive mind. One bit of good advice I received from a friend as my son was starting to become a bit more social and wanted to go to a friend¡¯s house for a sleepover was to ¡°trust but verify.¡±

I continue to get questions from CPSIs and others who want to know what surface system they should be specifying for their playgrounds. I appreciate the fact that we are all very busy and would appreciate some help from the industry experts. I too did the same when I was responsible for all of playground-related tasks for my agency.
I realized early on there was not an adequate comprehensive source of information in one place nor were there enough well informed people within the industry to get the quick answer we all desire. This was understandable for two reasons. Everyone is trying to sell their own surface system and private consultants want to be paid to do your homework and make an appropriate recommendation for a surface system that best fits your budget and performance requirements.
Where do these consultants get their information? I realized back in the day they get most of their information from many of the same sources I was using. I, like many of you, was paying the cost to educate my consultant.

A lot has changed over the past 30 years. There are many new products available in the marketplace and many more industry performance standards for play area surface systems. When I started out in the field of Park and Recreation Management, there was no Google Search. There was no Internet or cell phone. Things were not as bad is it appears. We did have indoor plumbing, electricity, and the telephone. We found answers to most of our problems through word of mouth and experimentation.
This is not the way things are done today. Google it and you get all kinds of things to read, most of which are put out by the surfacing companies and their marketing staff who are trying to sell you their products. Most of this information will point out all the positives of their surface systems. Unfortunately, there is no consumer report on the subject. You will not find a complete report with a side by side comparison of all the positives and negatives of each system available in the marketplace. Regardless of all the good, and sometimes bad, information available through the Internet, the question everyone should be asking is, ¡°What performance requirements must be adhered to for my surface system to meet the current industry recommendations for a compliant system and how long should it last?¡±

It is time for everyone involved in managing public playgrounds to do their homework and become knowledgeable in everything necessary to select the appropriate impact attenuating surface system for their situation. This includes everything related to proper installation, maintenance, and repair throughout the system¡¯s life. There is no excuse for not knowing what resources are required to maintain a compliant impact attenuating surface within the play equipment use zone.
Knowing this information is only half of the battle. Knowing what resources you have at your disposal to successfully manage the surfacing throughout its life will help you apply this knowledge to achieve the best outcome. This is where making good decisions becomes a bit more involved.

Accessibility requirements for firmness and stability tend to steer our choices towards unitary systems. There are so many new unitary and composite hybrid surface systems, it is becoming very difficult to keep up with the surfacing industry. Then how do you compare these new systems to one another when looking at initial cost versus long term maintenance and projected life expectancy? Most of these systems have not been in place for more than a few years at best. Loose fill systems like Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) and loose rubber are still popular and provide excellent impact attenuation, but issues related to accessibility and the ongoing frequency of maintenance of these systems pose the biggest challenge for most public play areas owners.
Still the number one consideration guiding our purchasing decision should be to provide the most impact attenuation possible while meeting all our other unique issues each play area presents. Too many owners and their consultants are focused on meeting the minimum industry performance requirements without understanding the future challenges of meeting these requirements throughout the life of the playground.
What kind of warranty is available for each of these surface systems? Do these warranties have any limitations? I doubt most people have taken the time to read these warranty statements and what your responsibilities will be to remove and replace a system that fails within the warranty time limits.
What is more troubling to me is how many people defer their decision to their consultant for what surfacing system to specify. Many owners give little or no guidance for what performance requirements you expect. I see this scenario repeating itself time and time again with very unpleasant outcomes 3 to 5 years down the road. Now it is too late. Everyone is upset and the owner is the one left to deal with the issues at hand. If this has happened to you I suggest you look in the mirror to find the person responsible. Nobody should relinquish their responsibility to someone else for choosing the best most appropriate surface system for their play areas. I would start with defining and specifying impact attenuation performance.

Share to:  
Previous: Playground equipment Can Promote Children To Grow Up Next: Research of the outdoor equipment in park