Playground Safety Surface Testing

Safe 2 Play – Certified Matters completes safety surface head injury criterion impact testing for surface hardness using the Triax 2015

Our playground safety surfacing test covers the minimum performance requirements for the impact attenuation of playground surfacing materials installed within the use zone of playground equipment.

Triax safety surface impact test equipment

Certified in testing of synthetic turf to ASTM F1936-10 requirements (training certificate A72)

Certified to operate the Triax 2015 Impact Tester (training certificate C664)

Triax 2015 ball drop impact testing for rubber safety surfacing for Pebbleflex poured in place rubber safety surfacing.


Summary of Impact Test Method

There shall be one report for each play structure or functionally linked play structures
and for each type of surface material. Each test shall comprise of a minimum of 3
impact locations per play space or type of surfacing material with three drops from the
same height to the same point.

The critical fall height of the surfacing materials is determined by impact testing representative samples at a range of drop heights. The surfacing material is tested at temperatures of 25, 72, and 120oF (-6, 23, and 49oC). The critical fall height is determined as the highest theoretical drop height from which the surface performance parameters meet the performance criteria.

The ASTM F1292-13, and CPSC doc 325 set minimum values as the Gmax shall not exceed 200
and the HIC shall not exceed 1000 from the drop height stipulated by the owner/operator prior to purchase.
The report shall be descriptive enough to assist the user of the report in determining compliance with contracts and Standards.

Determining Shock Absorbency of a Surfacing

“No data are available to predict precisely the
threshold tolerance of the human head to an impact
injury. However, biomedical researchers have
established two methods that may be used to
determine when such an injury may be life

One method holds that if the peak deceleration of the
head during impact does not exceed 200 times the
acceleration due to gravity (200 g’s), a life threatening
head injury is not likely to occur. The second method
holds that both the deceleration of the head during
impact and the time duration over which the head
decelerates to a halt are significant in assessing head
impact injury. This latter method uses a
mathematical formula to derive a value known as
head injury criteria (HIC). Head impact injuries are
not believed to be life threatening if the HIC does not
exceed a value of 1,000.

The most widely used test method for evaluating the
shock absorbing properties of a playground surfacing
material is to drop an instrumented metal headform
onto a sample of the materials and record the
acceleration/time pulse during the impact. Test
methods are described in ASTM standard
specification for impact attenuation of surface
systems under and around playground equipment,
ASTM F1292.

Definitions – Protective Surfacing

Surfacing material(s) to be used within the protective surfacing zone
of any playground equipment. These materials are chosen so as to
yield a Gmax of 200 or less and a HIC of 1000 or less.
Section 10 Surfacing
10.1 Energy Absorbency of a Surfacing Material – The surfacing
material in the protective surfacing zone shall have a Gmax not
exceeding 200 and a HIC not exceeding 1000 when tested for the
defined fall height. The test methods specified in ASTM F1292 and
CEN En1177 are the acceptable methods to test the protective

Performance of Installed Playground Surfaces:

When an installed playground surface is tested in
accordance with the requirements of Sections 16-19 at the
reference drop height, the surface performance parameters
at every tested location in the use zone shall meet the
performance criteria of this specification. The reference
drop height shall be the greater of (1) the height specified by
the owner/operator prior to purchase, (2) the critical height
specified when the playground surface was installed, (3) the
equipment fall height, or (4) the critical height of the surface
at the time of installation.

Playground injuries, how big is the problem?

  • 210,797 emergency room visits per year in US by 2-
    19 year old children with 16,706 TBIs 1
  • 15% of all injuries & 5% of surface injuries are
    to head or face and include concussions,
    internal injuries and fractures 2
  • 39% of injuries include fractures, internal injuries,
    concussions, dislocations, amputations & crushes 2

1. National Centre for Injury Prevention and Control (CDC)
2, CPSC Tinsworth 4-2001


Head Injury Criterion GMAX, Triax 2000 and HIC Impact Testing for Surface Hardness


Information on this page courtesy of ROLF HUBER of Canadian Playground Advisory.