Your playground doesn’t have to be the coolest in the neighbourhood. It doesn’t need to have the most complex equipment – the kids need much less than you think to build kingdoms and have a blast. The only thing you have to think about is their safety.
What is “safety flooring”, then? There are 2 norms in the UE that regulate the issues of playground safety – EN1176 is about playground equipment, EN1177 refers to playground surfacing, also called safety flooring. These regulations do not precisely state which surface is appropriate, yet it is clearly said that such a flooring shall provide the necessary fall protection from a certain height (called maximal or critical fall height). This means that if a child can fall from 2 metres (because this is the highest point of the climbing frame, for example), the floor should absorb the impact of this fall, preventing from an accident with lasting consequences (especially head injuries). Head Injury Criterion is used to calculate these values.
There are several types of playground surface which can be classified as “safety flooring,” for example sand, grass, wood chips. However, their fall protection capacity is not constant. What is more, there are other common problems which are difficult to eradicate for good, like the lack of hygiene, material loss, weather dependance. This is why school boards, housing estates and town councils opt for much more durable and unproblematic playground surface: rubber granulate tiles.
Playground surfaces made of rubber granulate bonded with polyurethane (a type of a binding agent) have proved successful on public, commercial and private play and sport surfaces for many years now. They are permanently elastic, slip-resistant as well as fall and shock-absorbing. They allow liquids to filter through and dry quickly. The tiles are easy to clean and will last for many years, because they are weatherproof, rot-resistant and exceptionally durable. Safety tiles are thus a versatile, attractive and affordable fall protection flooring for indoor and outdoor use.
So, when choosing the most suitable playground surface, take into account all these factors, and make sure that the flooring from your provider is certified in accordance with the European standard for safety flooring (EN 1177) and that it meets the hygienic criteria imposed on play and sport surfaces.