Playground Safety European Norms

International standards address the safe design and testing of playground equipment, fences, and playground surfaces. For the European Union, a range of related standards or European Norms for the UK, Germany, Austria and Sweden, are available from ANSI. Similarly, the ANSI blog post about ASTM playground safety standards provides a summary of the related ASTM standards.

Annual reports of UK injury data collected through the Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance Systems (HASS/LASS) are available online but data collection ended in 2002. The RoSPA Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents estimates approximately 40,000 playground accidents annually resulting in a hospital visit. In addition, RoSPA summarizes the causes and types of playground accidents. The US National Institute of Health report titled What is the Relationship between Risky Outdoor Play and Health in Children? A Systematic Review offers an assessment of literature on the topic of outdoor play.

Child Climbing Rope Net

Equipment design, proper maintenance, and regular inspections are important means of providing playground safety. Age appropriate use and proper supervision play a role in accident prevention as well.

EN 1176 covering equipment, and EN 1177 covering surfacing are the principle playground safety standards.

The British standards BS EN 1176 for playground equipment specify performance criteria, test methods and safety considerations. BS EN 1177 specifies a method for determining the impact attenuation of playground surfacing.

In a report, "Playgrounds - risks, benefits and choices", by Professor David J Ball Middlesex University School of Health & Social Sciences Centre for Decision Analysis & Risk Management, the risks associated with playgrounds are compared with other types of activities. The report concludes the risks are modest compared with other types of activities, and evidence is mixed for the effectiveness of various playground surfaces in mitigating injuries. It considers the quality of play and the practicality of various safety measures.

BS 7188:1998+A2:2009 Impact absorbing playground surfacing. Performance requirements and test methods 

Provides additional test methods and performance limits to those in BS EN 1177, for resistance to abrasive wear, slip resistance, resistance to indentation, and ease of ignition.


BS EN 1176-1:2008 Playground equipment and surfacing. General safety requirements and test methods 

This part of EN 1176 specifies general safety requirements for public playground equipment and surfacing. Additional safety requirements for specific pieces of playground equipment are specified in subsequent parts of this standard. This part of EN 1176 covers playground equipment for all children. It has been prepared with full recognition of the need for supervision of young children and of less able or less competent children. The purpose of this part of EN 1176 is to ensure a proper level of safety when playing in, on or around play-ground equipment, and at the same time to promote activities and features known to benefit children because they provide valuable experiences that will enable them to cope with situations outside the playground. This part of EN 1176 is applicable to playground equipment intended for individual and collective use by children, but excluding adventure playgrounds. It is also applicable to equipment and units installed as children's playground equipment although they are not manufactured as such, but excludes those items defined as toys in EN 71 and the Toys Safety Directive. NOTE Adventure playgrounds are fenced, secured playgrounds, run and staffed in accordance with the widely accepted principles that encourage children's development and often use self-built equipment. This part of EN 1176 specifies the requirements that will protect the child from hazards that he or she may be unable to foresee when using the equipment as intended, or in a manner that can be reasonably anticipated.

BS EN 1176-2:2008 Playground equipment and surfacing. Additional specific safety requirements and test methods for swings 

This part of EN 1176 specifies additional safety requirements for swings intended for permanent installation for use by children. Where the main play function is not swinging, the relevant requirements in this part of EN 1176 may be used, as appropriate. NOTE Recommendations on the design and sitting of swings are given in Annex A.

BS EN 1176-3:2008 Playground equipment and surfacing. Additional specific safety requirements and test methods for slides

This document specifies additional safety requirements for slides intended for permanent installation for use by children. The aim is to provide protection to the user against possible hazards during use. Where the main play function is not sliding, the relevant requirements in this part of EN 1176 may be used, as appropriate. This document is not applicable to waterslides, rollerways or slide installations where auxiliary equipment such as mats or sledges are used. This document is not applicable for inclined surfaces which do not contain and guide the user, e.g. banister rails (inclined parallel bars).

BS EN 1176-4:2008 Playground equipment and surfacing. Additional specific safety requirements and test methods for cableways

This document is applicable to cableways whereby children travel on or along a cable by the use of gravity. This standard specifies additional safety requirements for cableways intended for permanent installation for use by children.


BS EN 1176-5:2008 Playground equipment and surfacing. Additional specific safety requirements and test methods for carousels

This document is applicable to carousels that are used as playground equipment for children, as defined in 3.1 to 3.6. This document specifies additional safety requirements for carousels of diameter greater than 500 mm intended for permanent installation for use by children. This document is not applicable to equipment where the main play function is not rotating. This document is not applicable to motor-driven carousels, fairground carousels or climbing drums.

BS EN 1176-6:2008 Playground equipment and surfacing. Additional specific safety requirements and test methods for rocking equipment

This document is applicable to rocking equipment which is used as playground equipment for children, as defined in 3.1. Where the main play function is not rocking, the relevant requirements in this document may be used, as appropriate. This document specifies additional safety requirements for seesaws and rocking equipment intended for permanent installation for use by children. It is intended to provide protection to the user against possible hazards during use. NOTE Guidance for assessing the safety of other forms of seesaw/rocking equipment is given in Annex A.

BS EN 1176-7:2008 Playground equipment and surfacing. Guidance on installation, inspection, maintenance and operation

This document gives guidance on the installation, inspection, maintenance and operation of playground equipment, including ancillary items, e.g. gates, fences, and surfacing.

BS EN 1176-10:2008 Playground equipment and surfacing. Additional specific safety requirements and test methods for fully enclosed play equipment

This document is applicable to fully enclosed play equipment intended for installation inside and outside buildings, for children up to 14 years old, see 3.1. The purpose of this document is to provide additional safety requirements covering particulars of these structures, such as exits and escape routes, visibility, external "climbability", containment walls/netting in relation to safety area, ignition resistance, specific equipments/components, impact-attenuating surfaces, signage, specific inspection and maintenance.

BS EN 1177:2008 Impact attenuating playground surfacing. Determination of critical fall height

This European Standard specifies a method for determining the impact attenuation of playground surfacing. It defines a "Critical Fall Height" (see 3.2) for surfacing, which represents the upper limit of its effectiveness in reducing head injury when using playground equipment conforming to EN 1176. The test methods described in the European Standard are applicable for tests carried out in a laboratory and for tests on site.


PD CEN/TR 16396:2012 Playground equipment for children. Replies to requests for interpretation of EN 1176:2008 and its parts


PD CEN/TR 16467:2013 Playground equipment accessible for all children


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