fbpx IPEMA Continues To Expand Its Surfacing Certification Program

IPEMA Continues To Expand Its Surfacing Certification Program

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 10:11pm
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1 year ago
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International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA)

The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) Board of Directors approved a new certification program for surfacing manufacturers in February 2015. The new program will validate surfacing products to the ASTM International (ASTM) F3012-14 Standard for Loose-Fill Rubber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface under and around Playground Equipment.

As the number of companies using loose-fill rubber (LFR) for installation on playgrounds increases, IPEMA’s Surfacing Certification Committee believes a system should be in place for those who manufacture this product to have it validated to the Standard. Companies seeking this certification for their products must also certify them to the ASTM F1292-13 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems under and around Playground Equipment.

IPEMA President Richard Hawley said, “IPEMA continues to promote public playground safety through its certification programs. We believe having products validated to the ASTM Standards ultimately holds the manufacturer, and their products, to a higher level than those companies that do not have their products validated to the Standards. IPEMA is committed to public playground safety, and we believe validating products to the ASTM Standards is one way we can put that commitment into action.”

According to IPEMA Surfacing Certification Chair, Jeff Mrakovich, “The IPEMA certification program has helped to give ‘teeth’ to current and new ASTM standards that otherwise are considered voluntary and are not always accepted by playground owners as necessary when it comes to purchasing surfacing products. Take for example Engineered Wood Fiber-EWF. Most know this product as playground mulch. Simple, right? Just grind up some wood and install it in a playground and everything will be fine. It’s not rocket science… so they say. Well, I would answer, ‘not so fast!’ Where did the raw material come from to make that product? Was it from waste wood like pallets? Could there be chemicals or tramp metals like nails in it? IPEMA’s certification programs help to answer these questions.”

Surface America Surfacing on Playground

Those interested in certifying their products to the ASTM F3012 Standard will not be able to promote their doing so until January 2016. This delay gives companies one full year from the date of approval to have their products tested to the Standard. Beginning in January 2016, the IPEMA website will have a list of products that have successfully been validated to that Standard.

In addition to the ASTM F3012 and ASTM F1292 Standards, IPEMA also validates surfacing products to the ASTM F2075 (Engineered Wood Fiber) Standard. Verification of products which have successfully been validated to these Standards can be found at the IPEMA website (www.ipema.org). Clicking on the appropriate logo (blue for F1292, green for F2075, and brown for F3012) will take participants to a search function where individuals can look for certified products. 

According to Mrakovich, “One of the standard test methods used to certify whether that playground mulch is able to be called EWF is ASTM F2075. This test method will check for hazardous chemicals like mercury and lead as well as making sure the product is free from metals, such as nails and staples. Is it ground to the proper consistency so that the wood fibers will knit together to form a firm and stable surface for those with disabilities? F2075 checks for that too. The same can be said for the newest product certification for loose-fill rubber which certifies to ASTM F3012, a new standard recently adopted by the ASTM committee on surfacing products used on playgrounds. Tramp metals as well as hazardous chemicals have always been something playground owners have feared with this type of product. Now IPEMA has added this to their certification program, so owners can feel safe that the LFR product they purchased has been thoroughly tested for this by a third party lab and backed by a certification program second to none.“

It is extremely important to verify certified products on the IPEMA website. That is the only place where verification can occur. There are some companies that try to promote their products are IPEMA-certified when they are not, so IPEMA strongly urges those looking for certified products to verify that certification at the IPEMA website. Mrakovich stated, “By asking for IPEMA’s certification certificate for a particular product during the purchasing process, the owner can have peace of mind that at least they’ve done their best to make sure their playground is getting a product that meets current standards and will do the job that it was intended to do.”


IPEMA provides certification logos, which are different from the membership logo, to participants in the certification program(s). IPEMA members who do not participate in a certification program may not use any of the IPEMA certification logos. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REPRODUCE.

Updates from IPEMA 

IPEMA's philosophy is simple:

To represent and promote an open market for manufacturers of playground equipment and surfacing.

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There are 4 Comments
Michael Baldwin's picture

I heartily disagree that IPEMA cares about playground safety much, until and unless it acknowledges the over 15-year-old NHTSA data that proves 1000 HIC and 200 G-max. is grossly out of line with what is know now since the March 2000 NHTSA Report stated the actual thresholds at which death or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is LIKELY, are 390 HIC for ages 1-3, 570 HIC for ages 4-5, and 700 HIC for ages 6 through adult.

The proof is ASTM's and IPEMA's inability to lower the acceptable thresholds for playground safety surfaces, as Rolf Huber addressed many years ago, then again in September of this year. The bottom line is, ASTM and IPEMA really has "the fox watching the hen house" inasmuch that it's member boards appear to be primarily comprised of playground industry manufacturers who are really more concerned with profits than actual safety, and as a body cannot agree to accept the NHTSA data from March of 2000, when it was the NHTSA data that was utilized to establish the safety standards in the first place.

For these reasons and the idiocy of IPEMA's president and prior president's prior response to one of my articles years ago (where all 7 of their comments were patently FALSE), I have no faith whatsoever that IPEMA is actually attempting to make kids safer on playgrounds. It's more about lining the pockets of it's members that pay to play.

Trying to work with reputable experts in this field has confirmed that many people feel the same way, but feel powerless to exert the necessary influence to change things for the better. At that point, being a CPSI becomes worthless, because "certifying" a playground and it's safety surfacing to the existing standards is likely to still be completely unsafe, resulting in injuries and deaths to kids, where many of them could be preventable if anyone on the ASTM and IPEMA boards really cared about the safety of kids on playgrounds.

Chan Elliott 's picture

I am looking to get my license to issue certificates for my own playground material that I'm paying someone else to certify. If I could get info on how I can go about doing this. Thanks

Brian Borkowicz's picture

Please call to discuss how we can manufacture our own wood fiber playground mulch


Anonymous's picture

How does an owner find a company that does field tests on existing surfacing like tile for HIC and GMax compliance to 1292?

Dennis Horlacher replied on Thu, 08/24/2017 - 12:36pm PERMALINK

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