Safety

At the turn of the 20th century, family economics were such that most children went to work by age 11. Play was not recognized by most as essential to the development of children. Playgrounds, if found, were rudimentary at best and often dangerous. As a result of playground related accidents, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was created in 1972 by Congress in the Consumer Product Safety Act.

The CPSC was formed with the following mission: "to protect the public against unreasonable risks of injury or death from consumer products, including toys, coffee makers, lawnmowers and smoke detectors, through voluntary and mandatory standards.'

The CPSC estimates that more than 200,000 children are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms each year for playground related injuries. The common denominator in most injuries falls from equipment. As a result of these injuries, in 1981, the CPSC issued its Public Playground Safety Handbook. Revised several times, this handbook sets the basic framework to keep playgrounds safe. Additionally, these guidelines have been adopted by playground manufacturers as a basis for product design and development.

Once the handbook was established, enter The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The ASTM develops voluntary consensus standards, related technical information, and services having internationally recognized quality and applicability that promote public health and safety, and the overall quality of life.

As a work in progress, the ASTM published the "Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use" also known as F1487. With this set of standards, playground manufacturers, planners, and other industry professionals are able to conduct testing and implement guidelines that maintain the intent of the CPSC Handbook.

To validate a manufacturer's compliance to the standards set forth in the ASTM F1487, the International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) was formed. This international organization promotes compliance to standards and developed a program whereby an independent laboratory could provide certification that a manufacturer does indeed comply with the nation's playground standards. A complete listing of manufacturer and compliant products can be viewed at the association's website at www.ipema.org.

As a result of the CPSC guidelines, playgrounds found throughout our country are engineered and planned with a child's safety in mind.

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