Playground Inspection and Maintenance - Frequently Asked Questions

We had a lot of great questions from our webinar on Playground Inspection & Maintenance last week. During the one our session, we were able to cover how to properly identify and correct potentially hazardous conditions on the playground, ways to protect your investment and improve the play experience. Our complimentary guide is always available as a resource as well as some online tools such as:

As promised, our webinar presenter, Teri Hendy, CPSI, has followed up with the answers to some frequently asked questions:

1. Can I get a copy of the guidebook?
Yes! You can find it at Please scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says “request.”

2. Is sand or gravel still an acceptable safety surface?
Sand and gravel are acceptable surfaces but not accessible. We do not suggest using these types of surfacing as safety surface.

3. Is there a way to repair PVC coated decking without removing the existing PVC coating?
If it is a small section that needs to be replaced and not the entire surfacing, then yes you can make spot repairs.  You need to remove the area that is worn, bubbling or peeling, clean off any rust and corrosion and then paint on the PVC material.

4. If I didn't receive my ASTM-F1292 with my surface installation, is there a way to get the certification after the fact. Like a drop test, etc.?
You can request the testing data for the surfacing that you purchased at any time. This data would be information from the laboratory testing.  If you want to know that the surfacing that was installed in your playground is compliant as installed the only way to know that is to have field testing done. If the field testing was not part of the bid specification when the material was purchased, then the owner/operator would be the one paying for the field test.

5. Are recycled wood pallets an acceptable surface? Would they run the risk of splinters?
If the material has been tested to ASTM F1292 they would be acceptable.  They would also have to be tested to ASTM F1951 to know whether they are accessible per the ADA.  The down side of using recycled pallets is that you have no idea if there are any toxins or other contaminants including shards of metal in the material.

6. What undergrad or associate degree does one need to have to be a certified playground inspector?
No specialized degree is required to become a Certified Playground inspector. For more information please check 

7. Why not buy chains at tractor supply they are rated at 3100lbs and are zinc coated?
They are rated for pull strength not durability in terms of metal rubbing on metal.  Playground manufacturers put their chain through a dynamic cycling test to ensure that when the chain links move against each other that they will not wear out quickly.  Typically, a harder metal is used for swing chain.

8. "Installation over hard surface may result in serious injury or death." Is this a mandatory warning label? If you have the playground installed over a compliant safety surface, why is this type of label mandatory?
The surface might be compliant today but overtime it may wear out, erode away or in the case of tiles get pulled up. The sign is there to alert the user/caregiver that surfacing is supposed to be there.

9. Should we perform inspections in the winter if we have several feet of snow?
It probably depends on what type of inspection. A high frequency inspection can be done.  What you see that does not have snow on it can certainly be inspected.  

10. What about surfacing (frozen) and the snow will change height measurements?
We do not measure equipment height based upon snow cover.  Snow may not be an impact attenuating surface. Most manufacturers of surfacing recommend closing the playground when frozen.

11. How do you visually identify EWF from shredded woodchip or mulch on site? 
It takes some experience to recognize the difference. Typically, the size of the wood chips is more regular in length and width. You don’t typically have long pieces of wood or wide chunks.  If you have pieces that don’t appear to be fairly regular in width and length, then you don’t have engineered wood fiber. I would reach out to your source of engineered wood fiber and ask for a sample. Then check the surfacing you are inspecting against the sample.

12. How often should we pressure wash our playgrounds?
That would depend on how often it gets dirty. It is hard to tell. If in an area where bird droppings are present in large amounts you may need to wash it off every morning. If you are in an area where mold grows on the equipment you should wash it frequently enough to not allow mold to form.Always check with the playground manufacturer to find out if you can use a pressure washer. Often high pressure can seriously damage the equipment.

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