Wood Fiber, Loose Fill Rubber & Sand Installation
Loose-fill materials like engineered wood fiber (wood chips) are cost-effective because of their excellent shock-absorbing properties when installed and maintained at appropriate depths it may also meet ADA requirement.
Rubber is another great loose fill product, however it costs a little more than wood fiber and is more challenging to maintain. Most loose fill rubber comes from used tires or other recycled rubber and is a great choice. If maintained properly it may also meet ADA requirement.
Sand is a natural and can be a clean and non-packing material. Size, texture and composition of particles may vary. Some sand types may not be appropriate for playground use due to their tendency to compact. Some types provide excellent impact-absorption qualities. Sand should be installed at minimum depth of 12-inches and maintained at a minimum of 9-inches. Sand does not support microbial growth, but can attract cats. Sand is not ADA compliant, requires regular inspection and periodic raking, leveling and tilling of compacted sand. Current CPSC Safety Standards currently do not recommend sand for play equipment with a designated play surface or 48-inches or higher. Sand may be impact tested and found to meet ASTM F1292 standards. Regular maintenance and Impact testing is recommended if sand is used in areas with designated play surface or 48-inches or higher.
The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has long recognized the potential hazards that exist with the use of playground equipment, with over 200,000 estimated emergency room-treated injuries annually. The most recent study of 2,691 playground equipment-related incidents reported to the CPSC from 2001-2008 indicated that falls are the most common hazard pattern (44% of injuries) followed by equipment-related hazards, such as breakage, tip over, design, and assembly (23%).1 Other hazard patterns involved entrapment and colliding other children or stationary equipment. Playground-related deaths reported to the Commission involved entanglement of ropes, leashes, or clothing; falls; and impact from equipment tip over or structural failure.