What if any serious injuries have we reduced over the past 30 years? For more than 30 years the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been gathering and analyzing injury data. During this time, falls to the surface have been the leading cause of playground injuries requiring medical attention. Fall-related injuries continue to be one of the four leading causes of death on playgrounds. The debate on whether the percentage of injuries due to falls has increased or decreased since the CPSC began analyzing injury data will continue but we cannot deny falls are still the number one cause of injuries requiring medical attention.
There was something uncommon about the crumb rubber extracted from the football field being serviced last year by G9 Turf, an independent contractor that specializes in the maintenance of synthetic turf sports fields. Using a specialized machine that blasts the field surface with 150 pounds per square inch of air pressure through dozens of oscillating nozzles, the infill was loosened, lifted and steered into white bags by a screw conveyor. “We’re filling the first bag of infill, and the material is coming out purple and red, and the dust is flying everywhere, and we’re thinking to ourselves, ‘What is going on here?’ ” recalls G9 Turf president Grant Hendricks Jr.
My staff and I conduct playground safety audits all over the country and we often find confusion (by owners, designers, users, and maintenance crews) on what type of equipment should be reviewed to the playground standards. My hope is that the following article can provide some clarification to the confusion. As with many aspects of life, there is a lot of gray and very little black and white on this issue, and I would strongly suggest contacting your equipment manufacturer to receive their opinions.
THE QUESTION: Which came first? The chicken or the egg. Man has been pondering this question forever and now I feel like I am in the middle of the same conundrum with regards to performance requirements for play equipment versus performance requirements for impact attenuation surfaces within the play equipment use zone.