Category: Dirty Dozen

Inadequate Use Zone

A use zone is the area under and around playground equipment where a child might fall. A use zone should be covered with protective surfacing material and extend a minimum of six feet in all directions from the edge of stationary play equipment, such as climbers and chin-up bars.

Slide Use Zone

  • For slides six feet or less in height, the use zone at the bottom of the exit area should extend a minimum of six feet from the end of the slide.
  • For slides between six feet and eight feet high, the use zone at the exit of the slide is equal to the height of the platform or entrance to the slide.
  • The maximum exit use zone, regardless of height, is eight feet.

School-Age Belt Swing Use Zone

  • Swings require a much greater area for the use zone.
  • The use zone should extend two times the height of the pivot or swing hanger in front of, and behind the swing’s seats.
  • The use zone should also extend six feet to the side of the support structure.

Tot Swing Use Zone

  • A fully enclosed tot swing requires less of a use zone than school-age swings.
  • Measure the vertical distance from the bottom of the seat to the pivot point or swing hanger and multiply by two for the use zone in front and back of the swings.

Improper Protective Surface

The surface or ground under/around the playground equipment should be soft enough to cushion a fall. A fall onto one of these hard surfaces could be life threatening and there are many surfaces that offer protection from falls.

Acceptable Surfaces:

  • Engineered Wood Fiber
  • Wood Chips
  • Sand / Pea Gravel
  • Synthetic / Rubber Tiles
  • Shredded Rubber
  • Mats
  • Poured-in-place rubber

Unacceptable Surfaces:

  • Concrete
  • Blacktop
  • Packed Earth
  • Grass

Most loose-fill surfacing must be maintained at a depth of 12 inches and be free of standing water and debris.