Playground Safety: Choosing the Right Surfaces, Equipment, and Supervision

Avoiding Injuries on a Playground

Playgrounds offer kids fresh air, friends and exercise. However, faulty equipment and unsafe surfaces can cause injuries.

Safe playground have impact-absorbing surfaces like wood mulch or chips, sand or shredded rubber. Concrete, asphalt and hard dirt are unsuitable under any equipment because they don’t cushion falls, which are the most common cause of playground injuries. 안전놀이터

Safety Surfaces

Kids will always fall on playground equipment, and the right safety surface absorbs the impact, lessening injuries. This allows kids to push the boundaries of their physical limits, which is a vital part of healthy growth and development.

Safety surfacing also helps keep kids off of splintering wood or sharp metal, which can lead to serious injury. It is important to use a reputable playground surface provider who understands the requirements for local, state and national safety guidelines and regulations.

Choose unitary surfaces like poured rubber, safety tile or synthetic turf that are easy to maintain and provide high-impact protection. Avoid loose-fill options like engineered wood fiber, sand, rubber mulch or river stones that can shift and cause dangerous ruts. Look for a provider who offers a variety of material options and can advise you on the best choice based on your project’s design, budget and desired level of safety. They should be able to demonstrate a track record of successful projects and be able to provide references.

Age-Appropriate Equipment

Kids of different ages have very different physical needs and abilities. While all equipment must meet playground safety requirements, it is important to consider what type of challenges and play elements will keep kids engaged and active.

For example, toddlers can’t safely climb on equipment that is built for older children because they don’t have the balance and strength to use it. This can lead to frustration and discourage them from going outside, preventing the many benefits that regular outdoor play provides. Equipment designed for ages 2-5 should have low climbing structures and crawl tunnels that allow young children to build their gross motor skills. Kids this age also start learning through imitation and imagination, so they need to have the opportunity to mimic what they see older kids doing. For this reason, it is often beneficial to have equipment like maypoles that multiple kids can grab onto and spin around together. This helps them to build upper body strength and cooperation.

Separate Areas

The equipment on playgrounds should be positioned in different areas to allow children that are engaged in different play activities to be separated from each other. This helps to avoid a situation in which noisy forms of play disturb children that have chosen a quieter form of play.

All pieces of equipment should be surrounded by shock-absorbing surface material that meets CPSC and ASTM International safety standards (1,2). This material should be loose fill, as opposed to poured-in-place rubber, and should extend at least six feet beyond the perimeter of each piece of equipment. This material should also be tested for a critical height, which is the maximum height a child can fall from a particular piece of equipment.

The equipment on playgrounds should be inspected regularly for signs of wear and tear. It is recommended that facilities assign a specific staff member to perform this task on a regular basis as part of a routine inspection of the facility.


Playgrounds offer kids the chance to work on a variety of skills that are important for their physical and mental health. But an injury on a playground could keep kids from going outside and participating in structured play because they associate it with a bad experience.

Safe playgrounds require active, unobtrusive supervision by adults who know how children of different ages play and can intervene in situations that may turn dangerous. This type of supervision is called “active monitoring” and it’s a great way to prevent injuries from occurring on playground equipment.

Playground supervisors can be paid professionals (full-time park or school/child care facility staff), seasonal workers (college students or high schoolers) or volunteers (parents). Supervisors need to have training not only in specific playground safety issues but also in general legal concepts like duty of care and foreseeability. Some schools provide walkie-talkies or cell phones for their supervisors to use so that they can contact the office or 911 if needed.