What goes into a great playground?
A great playground requires fun equipment, engaging layouts, inclusive designs, and safety surfacing for creativity to blossom in a safe environment. For owner/operators and architects responsible for building and maintaining these great playgrounds, it takes making the best decisions about playground surfacing and equipment, which usually means working with vendors who are IPEMA certified.
So … What does it mean to be “IPEMA certified”?
The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) Certification Seal for Public Play Equipment means that a supplier conforms to the play industry’s highest standards for safety and accessibility. IPEMA certification is a promise to customers that the play equipment and surfacing will reduce the chance of injury.
As a trade organization, IPEMA protects it’s members by keeping inferior, non-compliant products from flooding the market. Industry-sponsored voluntary certification programs can preempt the need for mandatory federal regulations, and as a result, IPEMA certification has kept government regulation of the industry at a minimum.
Let’s take a closer look at IPEMA certification and its history.
It All Started With ASTM
ASTM International, formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials, is the organization that develops and publishes technical standards for all kinds of materials, products, and services. The standards, which specify performance criteria, test methods, and safety considerations for playgrounds, can be found in ASTM F1487. If you work in the playground or park industries, you know those are the standards that outline “best practices” for playground equipment, fencing, and safety surfacing.
In 1995, a group of 12 playground equipment manufacturers formed IPEMA to validate manufacturer compliance to the safety standards outlined in ASTM F1487. The original goals for IPEMA included:
- Make playgrounds safer and reduce related injuries
- Represent and serve a significant majority of manufacturers of play equipment
- Provide members with timely, in-depth information on economic and governmental issues affecting the industry
- Promote relationships with other related organizations to enhance the strength and credibility of the marketplace
IPEMA originally contracted with Detroit Testing Laboratory (DTL) to certify public-use playground equipment. In 2010, DTL sold the certification portion of their company to an international technical services company called TÜV SÜD America, which currently manages the IPEMA certification program.
What is involved in Certification?
IPEMA certification means first verifying a manufacturer’s facilities and procedures. This includes calibration procedures, test procedures, testing equipment, conducting a site inspection, and confirming that the manufacturer understands safe playground layout. Next, the manufacturer must provide their own documentation of testing and certifications to show compliance. This means filling out annual forms, conducting an annual facility review, and showing regular product testing.
In 1991, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission expanded their Handbook for Public Playground Safety to include types of surfacing and their respective fall heights. In response, IPEMA’s third-party testing expanded to include safety surfacing suppliers.
Testing surfacing materials means testing a product’s impact attenuation (shock absorbency). It also means specifying a “critical fall height,” which is the “maximum height from which a life-threatening head injury would not be expected to occur.”
TÜV SÜD America conducts on-site random sample testing of Poured-in-Place and other rubber surfaces. The company also oversees supplier inspections, quality control programs, customer service programs, and on-site observations of surfacing installations.
Other IPEMA Initiatives
IPEMA isn’t just about certifications. The organization has other helpful resources for parents, kids, community groups, schools, parks and recreation professionals, designers, and equipment manufacturers.
For example, IPEMA sponsors Voice of Play to help improve the quality and quantity of children’s play and playgrounds. The website has information about physical, social, emotional, and cognitive benefits of play. It also includes a resource kit for parents and a section to acquire answers from play industry experts. IPEMA’s Safety Academy is an online education program that provides safety knowledge and important information to manufacturer sales representatives and other individuals responsible for playgrounds.
Would you like to know more about the certification program or any other IPEMA program? Contact IPEMA headquarters at firstname.lastname@example.org or (717) 238-1744.
Some of our No Fault products are IPEMA certified (No Fault Safety Surface, No Fault Bonded Rubber Mulch & No Fault Safety Tiles). Our professional installers get continuous training to ensure quality installations which meet and exceed ASTM standards and customer expectations. Got questions? Contact us today, and we’ll help!
A ribbon cutting ceremony for Sidney D. Torres Memorial Park took place on Monday, October 22, 2018 in Chalmette, Louisiana. It consists of 19 acres, and is the largest park in St. Bernard Parish. Community members and school children came to celebrate the grand opening of this new, exciting park that contains several playgrounds, a fitness zone workout area, and a concrete skate park.
Hahn Enterprises, Inc. spearheaded this amazing project, and provided colorful, state-of-the-art Little Tikes Commercial play equipment, while No Fault provided and installed our No Fault Safety Surface for St. Bernard Parish’s first wheelchair accessible play area.
Guy McInnis, St. Bernard Parish President, stated “We are impressed with the quality of the Little Tikes equipment and No Fault surfacing, which we installed under the playground and fitness equipment. The multiple colors of surfacing really give the playground added flair!”
The fitness zone contains 12 workout stations including a rowing machine, ab crunch station, pullup/pushup bars, and our shock absorbing No Fault Safety Surface.
The new Gridline Concrete Skate Park is another great addition to Sidney D Torres Park! It measures 150 feet x 50 feet, and has an 8-foot-deep bowl with multiple ledges.
If you are in the process of building a new playground or fitness area, No Fault Sport Group can help! Our rubber surfacing products and synthetic turf are IPEMA certified and designed to provide not only the utmost in safety, but will add greater aesthetic appeal to any play area. Give us a call at 866—NOFAULT, and our sales associates will be happy to assist you.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – legendary Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw
Thanks to a new trend in playground design, older Americans are joining their grandkids on the playground and keeping “playtime” going strong well into their golden years.
Think about it: Most of the time, grandparents can be found sitting on the benches off to the side while the kids have all the fun. A play space that gets young and old active and involved means everyone gets in on the action. Sounds like a great idea, right?
A recent article in GOVERNING, an online publication which covers state and local government policy issues, says we’ll soon be seeing more playgrounds “where aging adults can participate alongside their children or grandchildren.” The article says outdoor activity spaces designed specifically for older people have become popular in Asia and Europe, whereas in the U.S., the approach seems to provide a shared play space where the young and old can be active and involved together.
Playgrounds designed specifically for the young might include monkey bars, seesaws, slides, and jungle gyms for the kids. For the older folks, you’ll see low-impact exercise equipment such as elliptical machines, stationary bikes, and resistance equipment that can build strength. (Note: as we’ve talked about before, it’s important that adults stay off the equipment that’s intended for kids!) You’ll also find walking paths that encourage cardio-friendly strolls with the kids.
In other words, “age-integrated play” usually includes fitness stations aimed at people 60 and older near the children’s area or along walking paths nearby. We’re not talking weight benches among the monkey bars—the idea isn’t to turn grandpa into The Rock!
So what is the goal? As we’ll see, the benefits can be enormous.
Exercise is one of the foundations of a long healthy life, and for seniors it can literally save their lives. Seniors are at high risk for serious falls. Each year, more than one-third of people age 65 or older fall. Many of them suffer moderate to severe injuries (such as hip fractures) that increase the possibility of a shorter lifespan.
Any exercise that sharpens reflexes, increases muscle strength, and improves flexibility can help prevent falls and related injuries. Since a fall can be physically and emotionally devastating for seniors, improving balance is crucial. Although recommend that the aging continue with activities that help develop their balance and maintain strength, falls cannot always be prevented. That is why it is so important to have a shock-absorbing and slip resistant surface like our No Fault Safety Surface covering the fitness area.
Large muscles support a person’s posture, contribute to the body’s metabolism, and can even minimize injuries in the event of a fall, so developing those muscles is important at any age.
The physical benefits include everyday benefits, too. Some outdoor fitness equipment can improve manual dexterity, making it easier for older folks to tie their shoes or open jars. It can help them increase their range of motion, making it easier to perform routine activities, like bending down and picking up objects they have dropped.
Sure, older men and women need to stay active for their bodies’ sake, but they also need it for their social and mental health. Physical activity can increase confidence in older adults, giving them more control over their lives. Getting this activity in the fresh air and sunshine is better than doing it indoors, too.
Indoor gyms are not a bad idea, but sometimes seniors get discouraged when the gym is overcrowded by younger people who are more advanced in their workouts. The “no pressure” approach of outdoor exercise lets them approach fitness at their own pace.
Finally, combining fitness time with playtime for the little ones means spending quality time with the children in their lives. Good health and quality time with family—what could be more important?
Incorporating exercise equipment for seniors in your traditional playground design is a great way to help seniors set the example for a healthy, active lifestyle. It’s also a great way to encourage multigenerational play and quality time together outdoors.
Wherever adults and children gather to play, they are going to need a smooth, seamless, and slip-resistant surface like our No Fault Safety Surface. It’s ASTM F-1292 compliant, ADA approved for outdoor applications, and proven to provide fall protection up to 12 feet. Contact us today to learn how No Fault products can improve the appearance and safety of playgrounds for all ages.