By the Australian Standards, play equipment with a fall height greater than 600mm must have a certified impact attenuation surface installed to help prevent head and neck injuries when a playground user falls from play equipment onto the surface below. The one exception is for forced movement equipment, such as a rocker, seesaw or carousel where impact attenuation is required.
Common impact attenuation surfaces include wet pour rubber, synthetic grass, bark chip, sand and even well maintained natural turf. These surfaces should be tested from their installation date and then on a three yearly basis [as recommended by the Australian Standards].
Using a calibrated uni-axial accelerometer, a surface impact test or drop test is conducted on the playground surface to determine its critical fall height rating. This critical fall height must be equal to or greater than the free height of fall of the equipment.
With the experience we have in the playground industry, it is not uncommon for a playground surfacing company to certify their own installation. For a 1.5m critical fall height, one supplier may install a soft fall thickness of 60mm, whereas another company using identical materials and methods will install a 45mm thickness to achieve the same result. So how can you, as the owner of the playground, be confident that the surface is not underrated? The only sure way is to conduct a drop test on a new installation. This test also provides the data evidence that is not only required for licensing in the Education and Care Services, but also of benefit to schools and councils for determining if a playground surface is performing to the required specification.
With more than 10 years’ experience in the playground industry, we are able to offer a truly independent service with no affiliation with playground equipment suppliers nor surface installers. As opposed to some other "Independent" inspectors, we will Not quote for the repairs or replacement of equipment and safety surface as we consider this business engagement as a conflict of interest.