New ASTM F 1487-11 Standard
ASTM Standard F1487-11 is here and if you haven't yet read it, you should. There are multiple changes in this standard from the previous versions and many will affect your playgrounds. So, your probably saying to yourself, but wait just a minute there - we use the CPSC Handbook 325 we don't need to read the ASTM F1487. Not so fast my fun luv'n friend! See CPSC Handbook refers to F1487 and derives its voluntary provisions from this standard.
If you read my post on Are Playgrounds Too Safe?, then you might surmise from the changes that the authors of the F1487-11 standard felt the same way. With the introduction of a new swing type, multiple motion combination swing, a new element of challenge is being delivered to children everywhere. And that may be just what the doctor ordered, but please don't think that just because a new challenge was standardized that it is not safe, the authors certainly did their due diligence to ensure safety.
The Big Changes
Here are a few of the changes worth noting if you have public playgrounds at your facility.
As mentioned above there is now a 3rd type of swing - the multiple motion combination swing. The name isn't really written in stone, so combination swing will most likely become the preferred nomenclature. Along with this swing comes a new attenuation impact test. If you have tried to test your playground surfacing for HIC, then you already know how difficult it is too find a person with the expertise to conduct these tests (I think there are two in California). The issue here is that the new standard calls for the test to be performed by the manufacturer (traditionally in a lab) or someone who has all the special skill sets and equipment to test it in the field. At any rate, you may wish to budget into your playground upgrades and new construction projects some funds to conduct these tests. Also, try to identify a service provider that can conduct these tests.
The new standard now requires all stairs on stairways which are above 48 inches above the protective surface to have Barriers (not guardrails). You may need to conduct some measurements to determine if you are in the zone now.
Some articles and blogs are reporting that the new requirements for signage is that it is now the owner's responsibility - while this may be true in writing it has always been the responsibility of the owner. Why who else would be placing signage there for you? In addition, there are now 5 required elements that must be placard on the signage dependent upon your particular playground. These are age appropriateness, supervision, removal of strangulation hazards, hot play surfaces, and play over hard surfaces.
What to do now.
Re-Certify & Verify
Make sure that your staff who are not currently certified get re-certified. If you outsource your playground inspections, then make sure that they are up-to-date on certifications.
Update Your Reference Library
The new ASTM F1487-11 costs just $69.99 for the downloadable .pdf from the ASTM Store. Make sure you buy the original - this is something you want to make sure you get the real thing.
Send your staff back to training. Hold a roundtable on the new changes.
If you haven't inspected your equipment since 2009, then it is time to re-inspect.