Getting Your Playground Surface Right

Safety first: Getting your playground safety surface right

Children love to play – and even in the chilly Winter months a trip to the local park or bracing session in the school playground is a timeless favourite. Especially in the Winter, installing the correct playground safety surface is vital to ensure that fun time doesn’t end badly. Whether you’re installing a playground to complement your school’s multi use games area, or enhancing artificial field turf facilities with something special for the little ones, it’s vital that you choose the correct surface to protect children from serious injury. Whichever way you look at it, when it comes to playground safety, surfaces are important.

Is my choice of playground safety surface regulated?

Although regulations haven’t yet been passed in law, it’s wise to ensure you comply with recommended practice. It’s good for your facility too – particularly for schools but even in parks, open spaces and private facilities a suitable playground safety surface will protect you and your users. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents advises as to current and forthcoming EU and UK regulations. As a general guide though, an impact absorbing playground safety surface should be installed under any piece of equipment with a fall height of more than 0.6 metres to comply with BS EN 1176 and BS EN 1177 requirements.

What kind of playground safety surface is suitable?

A variety of different surfaces can be used to absorb impact. Your choice is likely to be influenced by whether you playground safety surface is indoor or outdoor, the age of the users and aesthetic and budget considerations.

Look for all weather surfaces as your first port of call if your facility is exposed to all year weather conditions. This has the added benefit of resistance to wet weather – protecting little ones from slipping as they burn off that excess energy. Many playgrounds feature the use of artificial grass turf across all or some of the site to offer variety and visual interest. The added benefit for schools or any facility that combines a playground safety surface with a building is that muddy footprints are a thing of the past – so you’ll keep the caretaker happy into the bargain.

Acrylic surfaces of the same breed as those used in building tennis courts and fitting out multi use games areas can be ideal for playgrounds. These surfaces are great at absorbing shock, but have the added benefit of slip resistance and colour coating, making for a great play environment for  all ages.

How else can I enhance my playground safety surface?

Constructing a playground should be approached with an integrated plan. Just as a football pitch construction or new tennis court is successful through the quality of facilities overall, so you should be considering more than just your playground safety surface to ensure an outstanding user experience.

Equipment, security, lighting and access are all considerations. The EN 1176 Playground Equipment Standard offers comprehensive advice for equipment and covers procurement, installation, testing methods and special considerations to name but a few. Additional features will depend on the size and usage volume of your playground. For example, if you are planning a large scale construction such as a play park that will be used all year round, you might consider the use of floodlighting or similar illumination to maximise your facility’s use in Winter months. A PA system could be a useful installation if you are expecting large numbers of visitors who might require mass communication.

Don’t forget about the user experience too. Bright colours, plenty of visual stimuli and a good variety of equipment all make for a fun kiddies’ experience. They’ll never know they’re using a playground safety surface – they’ll just love how much fun they’re having! That in itself creates a successful facility that will generate more visitors for you.

Building a reputation as a great, fun playground that takes safety seriously can mean great business for you. Schools, parks, land developments, childcare and recreational facilities all create a ripe market for play areas. Parents inevitably look for the peace of mind of knowing their children are protected by a playground safety surface. Whether you’re planning a renovation or a new construction we can help. Check out our useful information on how to get started with planning permission – then contact us today to explore the best options for your playground safety surface.