Playground Safety Surfacing

Engineered Wood Fiber – Answering questions

You might be wondering: Is my playground’s safety surfacing safe and does it meet the CPSC and ASTM compliance standards for California? The safety surfacing under and around your playground equipment is one of the most important steps you need to take to reduce life threatening injuries. With proper shock absorbing surfacing, a head injury is less likely. However, regardless of the preventative measures, some injuries from falls may occur.

What kind of safety surfacing is best for my playground? There are two forms of surfacing; unitary and loose-fill. Unitary rubber tiles or poured in place rubber have the advantage when it comes to maintenance. However, in my opinion, loose-fill rubber mulch, sand and engineered wood fiber are the safer choice for a couple of reasons.

Why choose loose-fill safety surface? When a loose-fill surface is maintained and a child falls to the surfacing, the surfacing moves with the body part, unlike the unitary surface which might not let the body part move or slide as much. Loose fill is also required to be maintained at a greater depth. For loose rubber a minimum depth of 6” is required while engineered wood fiber (EWF) needs to be maintained at a minimum depth of 9”. But don’t plan on the minimum of either surfacing, go deeper; 9” of loose rubber and 12” of EWF.

How do I add to or “top off” my loose-fill safety surfacing? Do a little research to make sure the surfacing you choose is certified and compliant with ASTM and has no metal or harmful substances. And keep in mind that that loose-fill compacts about 25%. For example: If you have EWF and the surfacing is almost down to the dirt – 3”, should you add 6” to get to 9” total? NO. Order 12”, over time, the surfacing will compact 25%, down to 9” of new EWF plus the old 3” equaling 12” total.

This crucial step will help keep major injuries in check and your liability to a minimum. No organization wants to face a law suit or go to court. Be proactive, not re-active. If you need a quote for your safety surface “top off” please contact me and I will work with you to make sure it’s done right.


Craig Faitel   Safe 2 Play – Certified Matters

Cell: 925-999-0117 Fax: 925-829-8246


Certified Playground Safety Inspector: # 18677-0914