For schools, nurseries, and other community initiatives, playgrounds are an integral part of what makes them. Not only do they encourage children to engage in physical activity and give them an open space to blow off steam, but they also promote socialising, independence and support in both cognitive and physical development.

Of course, a key consideration in creating a playground area is to ensure that it is safe for children of all ages and abilities. As you may imagine, falling is a key concern when it comes to playgrounds. Depending on the design, some elements may result in falls from a height, which can result in significant injury.

To support the creation of safe, accessible playgrounds, it is important to consider fall zones and the types of surfacing that is used in these areas.

What is a playground fall zone?

As nearly 80% of playground injuries are caused by falls, it is vital to have proper surfacing in appropriate areas.

Playground fall zones are areas surrounding equipment such as swings, climbing frames, and slides. In these fall zones, appropriate surfacing must be installed and extend within a minimum distance in order to meet safety requirements.

In order to calculate playground fall zones for each type of equipment, critical fall heights must be considered.

What is critical fall height?

Critical fall height differs for each piece of playground equipment. It is the maximum height from which a user of the equipment could fall from. If there is a risk of a child falling from a piece of playground equipment, then the appropriate flooring must be utilised to prevent serious injury.

Legally, safety flooring should be installed where a piece of equipment features a critical fall height of 0.6m or more. However, it is best practice to install safety surfacing beneath any piece of equipment where any type of fall could occur. Further to this, no playground equipment should be installed that features a fall height that is greater than 3m.

Critical fall heights will also inform the required depth of the surfacing that is used beneath safety equipment. As would be expected, the higher the critical fall height is, the deeper the surface needs to be in order to provide enough cushioning should a fall occur.

An easier way to do this would be to take the piece of equipment with the highest critical fall height and apply the appropriate depth for the surface across the whole of the playground area.

Playground Surfacing from NatraTex

Playground surfacing that considers critical fall heights and meets fall zone regulations is essential for all areas where children will be using playground equipment.

NatraTex surfacing products offer a cost-effective, low maintenance and multi-purpose solution for schools. A safe space for young people to play, socialise and interact with one another, NatraTex is suitable for play areas and multi-use games areas, as well as car parks, roads and footpaths.

NatraTex Colour is also available in a wide range of vibrant hues that are stimulating and fun for play areas and playgrounds. To find out more about our high-quality, durable surfacing options, contact us today.