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Public Playground Equipment

MARCH 20, 2007

U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff is participating in voluntary standard activities for ASTM F1487 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use. Past CPSC staff recommendations include those which address the potential for falls from and impact with equipment, the need for protective surfacing under and around equipment, openings with the potential for head entrapment, the scale of equipment and other design features related to user age, layout of equipment on a playground, installation and maintenance procedures, and general hazards presented by protrusions, sharp edges, and pinch points. The staff continues to work to develop strategies to reduce deaths and injuries associated with public playground equipment.

The most recent CPSC staff study of public playground equipment-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms indicated that the majority (79%) resulted from falls from equipment. Other hazard patterns involved colliding with stationary equipment and contact with hazards such as protrusions, pinch points, sharp edges, hot surfaces, and playground debris. Fatal injuries reported to the Commission involved falls, entanglement of clothing or other items, entanglement in ropes, head entrapment in openings, and impact from equipment tip over or structural failure. Deaths from impact with moving swings are now rare; however, climber-related falls resulting in injuries have increased since 1998.

Safety Guidelines: CPSC developed the Handbook for Public Playground Safety to address hazards associated with public playgrounds. These guidelines have been referenced in the building codes, legislation, and regulations of many states and local jurisdictions. Staff plans to issue a revision to these guidelines in 2008 to reflect new safety standards.

Additional Information

Safety Alerts:

  • Strangulation Hazard with Playground Cargo Nets, (PDF)

Fact Sheet:

Incident Data:

Voluntary Standard and Code Activities:

  • May 25, 2010 letter to ASTM F15.29 Subcommittee Chair, Playground Handbook Response to ASTM-IPEMA post ASTM Meeting (PDF

CPSC Staff Reports, Memoranda and Contracts:

  • Handbook for Public Playground Safety (PDF)

  • Recommendations for Identifying and Controlling Lead Paint on Public Playground Equipment 
  • Development of Human Factors Criteria for Playground Equipment Safety, by contractor COMSIS Corporation, Inc, contract number CPSC-C-88-1231, March 1990 (all PDF)

Contact ASTM International

  • For additional information on ASTM F1487 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use, contact Katharine Morgan at or ASTM International at

Contact CPSC


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