Where the height that the children can fall from (i.e. platform or monkey bar height rather than roof height), is between 0.6m and 1.5m then a minimum of 1.5m of clear falling space is required around the equipment. This area increases for fall heights from 1.5m up to a maximum of 3.0m. eg 2.0m = 1.83m , 2.5m = 2.16m , 3.0m = 2.5m (fall height = falling space)
For swings the surfacing distance is calculated based on the height of the top beam and the type of surface. Eg for a swing with a 2.4m top beam and bark surface then the safety area is the width of the swing frame x 8.7m. In addition no other equipment safety area should overlap this and the main traveling routes through the playground should not intersect it. (i.e. position swings at the back of a playground).
For cable runways (zip wire or flying fox) then the safety area should be 4m wide (2m either side of cable).
For roundabouts the safety area is a 2m all around. In addition the gap between the base of the roundabout and the playing surface should be maintained at between 60mm and 110mm.
Commercial safety surfacing is covered by the standard BS EN1177 and is required generally for all equipment with a fall height above 600mm. Any safety surfacing products used should be tested in accordance with this standard. Whilst it is not a requirement for safety surfacing to be used in residential play areas it is recommended.
Various options include, in order of ascending cost, playbark / woodchip products, rubber grassmats (that allow the grass to grow through), shredded rubber “bark”, solid rubber tiles or continuous rubber wet pour.
The extent to which surfacing areas should be provided is covered above and the depth is also linked to fall height. Usually bark surfaces should be laid to a depth of 300mm and will also require a membrane and a retaining edge. Grass mats may be laid onto level grass or topsoil, cable tied together and seeded where necessary. Rubber tiles and wet pour should be laid on a solid base of tarmac, concrete or compacted stone.