All playground surfaces have deficiencies: study

Bloomington, IN – All types of playground surfaces have problems with safety, accessibility or maintenance, finds an Indiana University study released July 19.

The National Center on Accessibility at IU recently completed the first year of a study examining various surfaces at 25 newly constructed playgrounds. Surfaces analyzed included poured-in-place rubber, engineered wood fibers, rubber tiles and hybrid surface systems.

Playgrounds with loose-fill engineered wood were found to have the greatest number of deficiencies in accessibility, as well as a lack of firmness and stability. A poured-in rubber surface at one playground did not meet ASTM standards for impact attenuation, and rubber tiles at another site had puncture holes and buckling that created cracks and holes in the play surface. Many different types of surfaces had slopes or changes in levels and, in some cases, materials were not properly installed.

“There is no perfectly accessible playground surface,” said Jennifer Skulski, the study’s principal investigator. “It is critical the playground owner understand the functions and limits of each type of surface in order to select the surface most appropriate for their site.”

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