Commercial Playgrounds: Top 3 Hazards

Commercial Playgrounds are built to high safety standards. When you have acronyms like CSPIs and fancy terms like impact attenuation, you know something is built to a high level.

Why must commercial playgrounds meet the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM for short) standards?

It is all about safety. Allow me to reflect on the childhood playground my dad built momentarily.

And suddenly, I, Justin, was falling.

I had climbed up on our soon-to-be playhouse my dad was making for my brother and me. Balanced across a beam, I sat watching him work.

And then I wasn’t.

I had a pretty long fall. Not that I could have said the Gettysburg Address during the fall, but still, it felt like an eternity. As one of my favorite authors, Patrick McManus says about falling, “I would have enjoyed the trip more if I hadn’t worried about the landing.”

And then I hit. Dad looked down at me in disbelief. “Are you alright?” he asked.

I did a manual inventory and then nodded. I was actually fine.

This is why ASTM rules exist, and it is their job to make these falls as preventable as possible. If they happen, these standards ensure that the proper playground surfacing is in place to help reduce the trauma of the fall.

I spoke to our certified playground inspectors on staff about the top three dangers/injuries that commercial playgrounds are engineered to remove or reduce. We will discuss how our commercial playgrounds mitigate these and what you can do to help prevent them.

Falling, Entanglement, and Entrapment

Let’s start by defining the big three of playground injuries; falling, entanglement, and entrapment.

According to our certified safety inspectors, 80% of the injuries that occur on playgrounds or swing sets are caused by falling. I expect no one is actually surprised by this as we have all witnessed a child who clambers out where he isn’t supposed to or takes a misjudged step.

Falling is easy to understand, but what is entanglement? Simply put, it is when your child gets part of them or what they are wearing stuck on or in part of the equipment. This is similar to entrapment. However, entrapment is slightly different. Entrapment is about putting part of the body where it shouldn’t go and then being unable to pull it out or slip through.

How do we prevent these things from happening? Let’s handle each of them one at a time.

Preventing Falls

Misuse and Horseplay

Don’t allow horseplay or misuse of the commercial playground equipment.

Once, I had to run out to our playground to tell the parents of a child to get him down from dancing on a playhouse roof (true story). Kids will always push boundaries, and if we turn a blind eye to the misuse of the equipment, they will keep trying more and more dangerous things. Don’t let them climb on things they shouldn’t or play games that involve pushing or shoving.

Commercial playgrounds are built to prevent falls. The roofs are at least 72’’ off the deck height, making them inaccessible for a makeshift rendition of Fiddler on the Roof. Our railings are also 39’’ tall, keeping the children inside the towers and not hanging like monkeys from the outside.

Age-appropriate Playgrounds

If you are a preschool, make sure you get preschool-appropriate items. While all our playgrounds are built for a wide range of ages, matching the correct challenges with the right ages is important.

Our Forrest Series is geared for children ages 2-5. The lower heights are great for children still mastering their motor skills.

The Ocean Series is great for ages 2-12. While the towers are taller, we have great, easy access points for the younger children who will use the set.

The Cosmos Series is geared toward your older children. While it still works for the smaller ones, it has taller heights to keep the older children engaged.


Don’t overcrowd the commercial playground. Children will bump into each other or shove to get past if overcrowded. This can increase the risk of a child getting accidentally hurt.

Ensure your playground is big enough to handle your maximum number of children. Each of our commercial playgrounds has listed in its specifications the range of children it can handle, so make sure to consider that number.

Commercial Playground Surfacing

Now we can’t prevent all falls. I am a dad with three kids: I know that kids just fall sometimes. Properly installed playground surfacing can dramatically reduce the chance of serious injury if a fall occurs.

How much surfacing do you need? That depends on how tall your tower is. Fortunately, we did all that work for you. Each playground has the needed playground surfacing depth to pass an inspection.

If you would like to learn more about playground surfacing, click here!

Preventing Entanglement

My kids love dressing up in costumes. From Hobbits to knights to a strange compilation of magical beasts, dressing up is always a good time.

However, it is not a good idea on a swing set. Things like capes or necklaces, or even helmets with straps under them, can cause injury if the clothing gets caught on a piece of equipment.

This can be dangerous if something is around their neck, and they leap off the equipment.

Our commercial playgrounds are designed to prevent entanglement. Our hardware and removing the climbing wall ropes reduce the chance of entanglement.

Preventing Entrapment

Entrapment is a big consideration when designing a playground. Children are just prone to sticking their bodies into places they shouldn’t. This means we must ensure we do not have extra space between the vertical slats on our railings or too much space under the railings themselves.

An inspector will measure many places on a playground with a spacer to ensure the playground is up to code. Our playgrounds are designed by one of these certified playground inspectors and will meet ASTM entrapment standards.

Creating a 100% perfectly safe playground with no chance of injury would be fruitless as it would be the most boring playground in existence. While our commercial playgrounds are built to eliminate or reduce risk where possible, they still are fun.

This means that we, as the manufacturer, and you, as the parent, work together. We will uphold our end and build a fun, safe commercial playground. However, it is up to you to ensure your child uses it correctly. Don’t allow rough play, improper slide use, or climbing where they are not meant to.

Everyone cares about the safety of the children using our playgrounds. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our sales team, they would love to help you out!

Justin Doutrich

Dad to three kids, Justin knows how important it is for children to get lots of physical exercise. His time as a school teacher reinforced that idea. He is passionate about creating fun, enjoyable playgrounds that are safe but full of learning opportunities.

Read More About Justin