In 2011, BREC Parks & Recreation System opened the water park “Liberty Lagoon” in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Not only does it contain numerous pools, splash pads, water slides, and a lazy river, Liberty Lagoon also offers swim lessons, water aerobics classes, and regularly serve up to 500 people per day.
No Fault LLC provided and installed our No Fault Safety Surface for Water Play at Liberty Lagoon when the park first opened. It’s a fun place for both children and their families to cool off on a hot summer’s day!
We recently installed our No Fault Safety Surface for Water Play to replace some of the surfacing at Liberty Lagoon that was worn due to a lot of use over the last eight years. One of the great things about our poured-in-place rubber surface is that it allows for in-laid designs and patterns in appealing bright colors. BREC wanted the colorful beach ball pattern in several areas on their splash pad to add an element of fun. The colors are so vivid that the beach balls appear to be three-dimensional!
We also provided our No Fault Safety Surface in a tan blend for the “island” that is located in the center of the lazy river pool. Poured-in-place rubber surfacing is seamless and slip-resistant making it an ideal application for water play areas. And, our very talented crew installed the BREC Logo in green.
Are you planning on constructing a new splash pad or water play area? Contact No Fault LLC at 1-866-NFSPORT. Our Regional Account Managers will be happy to assist you in designing your new water play area, or replacing the surfacing at your existing water park.
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.
Also, if you didn’t already know it, No Fault Sport Group products are IPEMA certified. 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!
“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.
Are you confident that you’re making the best choices for your playground projects?
It’s important that you know the safety products you install are environmentally friendly and safe for kids. That’s why we at No Fault take great pride in providing rubber products that enhance playground and park safety – products made from the cleanest and highest-quality non-toxic materials available.
In the early days of rubber playground safety surfacing, a few sensational media reports claimed that recycled rubber might be too dirty or potentially contaminated with foreign particles. Today, however, there is no peer-reviewed scientific data that suggests recycled rubber poses any health risks to children, athletes or anyone else. On the contrary, more than 70 scientific studies conducted by both private and government entities specifically say otherwise, according the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.
Let’s take a look at how today’s most stringent playground safety standards depend on recycled and “upcycled” rubber and how manufacturers ensure that only the safest materials are used.
Rubber has been recycled and repurposed for many years. But the market demand in the last few decades — a demand seen in places as diverse as hospitals, agriculture, sports, urban infrastructure, and parks and playgrounds – has meant an increased use of scrap rubber. Much of this rubber comes from old automobile tires that are no longer functional. In most cases, old tires ended up in the landfills. Worse, many were dumped in lakes, vacant lots, along the sides of roads, or on public property.
Today, however, U.S. scrap rubber manufacturers recycle roughly 110 million tires annually. As it turns out, scrap tire rubber can be used to make reliable playground safety surfacing.
No Fault Safety Tiles, poured-in-place (PIP) surfacing, rubber mulch, timbers, and other playground safety products contain these “second-life” rubber components. These materials have undergone rigorous safety testing. This testing (conducted by state and federal agencies and independent, third-party industry associations) has shown time and time again that recycled crumb rubber and other re-used rubber poses no harm to humans, animals, or the natural environment. In fact, research shows no significant health risks are associated with artificial (synthetic) turf made from recycled rubber infill.
What is “Upcycling”?
No Fault’s industry-leading playground safety surfacing products contain mostly postconsumer content. And what exactly is that, you might ask? Essentially, it’s defined as waste materials that can no longer be used for their initial purpose. “Recycling” is a more common term. It describes a sustainable process that involves creating a new product from an old one (using old aluminum cans to make new ones, for example). However, recycling is often too expensive to justify the process. The next best thing is “upcycling,” or reusing one material to produce something different.
“Upcycling” is the process of taking a material that was already used for one thing and – instead of throwing it away – converting it into something useful. For example, we upcycle rubber waste to create high-performance safety surfacing. This waste comes from vehicle tires which contain traction and shock-absorbent properties.
At tire recycling facilities, industrial shredders use powerful, interlocking knives to chop tires into smaller pieces. Tires may also be shredded through a cryogenic process, using liquid nitrogen to freeze rubber until it becomes very brittle. Powerful hammers then smash the tire apart, and cryogenic grinding makes a fine powder of the pieces. Non-rubber components (such as steel belts) are removed and used for metal recycling.
The manufacturing process our products go through includes grinding and screening to remove stones, metal, fiber, and other materials from scrap tire rubber. This is an exacting process designed to meet rigorous ASTM specifications – as well as our own high standards. This vertically integrated, energy-efficient manufacturing process involves continuously testing and retesting products to maintain a high level of quality and trust. This process uses very little water and heat, plus scrap rubber is always reused to minimize waste.
The use of manmade safety surfaces on playgrounds has increased over the years. Today, both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend and promote rubber mulch as an alternative to wood chips. This mulch and other No Fault surfacing products are made from recycled (or “upcycled” rubber) that has been thoroughly cleaned, stripped of any harmful metal, and remanufactured to create tiles, mulch, and PIP rubber surfacing that protects against falls and other injuries. If you have any questions or concerns about our world-class safety surface products, please call us at 1-800-232-7766 to speak with a No Fault representative today.
This project was a BIG DREAM come true! Marine Park in the City of Blaine, Washington now has the most awesome playground complete with a sailing ship, sharks circling within the poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing, climbing boulders, a lighthouse featuring historical images, and is right on the water overlooking White Rock, British Columbia! No Fault Sport Group partnered with Buell Recreation to provide our No Fault Safety Surface for this fun, maritime- themed project!
Tina Frey with Buell Recreation spoke with Alex Wenger, Community Planner with Community Development Services at the City of Blaine to get his comments. Alex stated, “The project has really exceeded our expectations. Looking at the design on paper really doesn’t compare to standing on a full-sized ship or climbing the lighthouse and looking out at the water. We’re really looking forward to our first summer with the new play structures. Even during the winter months, the playground has experienced a lot of use. The poured-in-place rubber surfacing material really set the whole playground off in a wonderful way. The blue water-colored surfacing surrounding the climbing rocks and sailing ship brings the whole project together, and everyone loves the sharks and fish circling around the ship! The feel and texture of the rubber surfacing is really cool to experience under your feet, and adds a ton of play value compared to standard wood chips. It is also much easier for strollers and wheelchairs to get around, and it drains great and cleans up nicely.”
Alex also stated, “Another aspect that came out really well was the full panel images provided by BCI Burke. There are six full-size image panels on both the ship and lighthouse structures that display digitally enhanced historic photos from the Whatcom Museum displaying Blaine’s maritime past. Each panel includes a description and write-up by local historian, Marjorie Reichhardt. The result is a fun way for both kids and parents to learn about the city’s history turning the playground into a mini-museum with slides! The project also required a big effort to raise private funding, and there are 7 different types of sea life plaques to honor the individual donors that contributed over $85,000 in donations. The sea life plaques were created using a hand carved wooden mold, then poured in bronze and engraved with the donor’s name. Placed on a turquoise stained concrete wall that holds up the gangway to access the ship, the sea life donation wall creates a nice effect as the backdrop to the ship and blue rubber safety surfacing that the kids can go right up to and explore.”
It was a proud moment for the City of Blaine during the grand opening celebration that made the 2-plus year project worth every penny. The community has worked hard to see their vision realized, and the children who visit will have trouble leaving this magical place!
When it comes to providing safe play opportunities for both disabled and non-disabled children, not all playgrounds are created equal.
You wouldn’t be alone if you thought play areas that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are “good enough,” or if you believed “accessible” playgrounds and “inclusive” playgrounds are the same thing.
In fact, the ADA offers no specific definition of what makes a playground “accessible” or “inclusive”. While all playgrounds built or remodeled in the U.S. today must be ADA-compliant, the law generally offers a bare minimum standard that only requires playgrounds to provide wheelchair access.
A playground needs to be accessible in order to be welcoming for all kids. However, an accessible playground is not always inclusive for children of all physical and mental abilities.
Sound complicated? It isn’t. Read on.
The ADA: A Good Start
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) changed how playgrounds and parks are laid out and designed by requiring them to ensure play opportunities for children of all abilities. For example, the ADA mandates today’s schools, childcare centers, and municipalities to have playgrounds that incorporate:
- Ramps and other barrier-free travel routes
- A variety of accessible play options
- Appropriate safety surface beneath equipment
However, “accessible” play options aren’t always the same as “accessible” play options in ADA terms.
For example, ADA compliance might require an accessible path leading to the playground. It might also require that a large climbing structure has a transfer station where children in wheelchairs can pull themselves onto the structure. Ground-level play equipment might be included in an ADA-compliant playground design as well, to engage kids who are unable to leave their chairs.
As mentioned, ADA compliance means accessible routes must connect the play area to the school, parking lot, or facility that it serves. The ADA even specifies the width, slope, and surface of these routes. The law gives a minimum height for “entry points and seats” (where children transfer, sit, or gain access—including swing seats, spring rocker seats, and crawl-tube openings).
Taking wheelchair mobility into account, the ADA recommends height, width, and depth minimums for “play tables” where kids gather to play over a shared surface. It also defines “maneuvering space” as the space required for a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn and at least one maneuvering space be provided on the same level as elevated play components.
Accessible Playgrounds: A step further
Though “accessibility” is a term often used in reference to ADA compliance, the ADA offers no specific definition of what makes a playground accessible. A nationally-recognized industrial standards organization, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), developed guidelines in response to the ADA to build on the federally-mandated minimum requirements. The ASTM F1487 Standard provides guidance on designing playgrounds and play equipment for an even higher level of accessibility and safety.
Consider this: Accessibility is about travel, movement, and approach (or entry). So, a playground that is accessible is one that is easy for a child who uses a mobility device to maneuver in or around.
An accessible playground offers a range of play experiences to children of varying abilities. However, it doesn’t mean that every piece of equipment must be usable by every child. For example, a playground that offers a glider for kids in wheelchairs (picture a platform where a chair can be secured) is considered accessible since it provides an alternative to the nearby swing set that isn’t wheelchair-friendly.
Inclusive Playgrounds: The Next Level
An inclusive playground is one that encourages and enables disabled and non-disabled children to engage with one another in play and discovery. As mentioned earlier, a wheelchair glider somewhere on the playground makes the playground “accessible.” Modified swing sets where children can swing without leaving their wheelchairs and remain in the same play area as everyone else might make the playground truly inclusive.
Inclusion means designing to meet the needs of children who use wheelchairs, have autism or are sight-impaired. There are no “special needs” sections because all the equipment is designed to challenge all children without segregation or stigmatization.
Inclusive play might include any of the following:
- A fence to protect children from running into a nearby gully;
- A path around the play area that gives children time to watch the action and adapt to a new situation until they feel ready to engage;
- Safety surfacing that makes it easy to move wheelchairs and other mobility devices. A slip-resistant, durable material like No Fault Safety Surface keeps children safe from falling and is easy to use with crutches, leg braces, and wheelchairs.
Where to Begin
Play areas should be designed to challenge children of different ages and abilities. At an inclusive playground, kids can learn to take risks together; none of them are left on the sidelines wishing they could participate.
If you’re building or renovating a playground, you should work with an accessible playground equipment manufacturer who understands inclusive design.
No Fault Sport Group works with manufacturers to build inclusive playgrounds that emphasize safety, inclusion, and value. Please give us a call toll-free at 1-800-232-7766 and let us know you read this blog.