Critical Fall Height

What is Critical Fall Height?

The Critical Fall Height is the vertical distance between the surface of the play area and the highest designated play area. As described in ASTM F1292, this height determines the impact attenuation, or shock absorbency, required of a play surface. Our systems have been tested and meet ASTM F1292 for 2 ft and up to 6 ft Critical Fall Heights.

Why is Critical Fall Height Important?

Each year over 200,000 children are injured in playground falls. Some of these injuries include traumatic brain injuries. There is a misconception that utilizing foam matting or carpet with a pad underneath it will provide sufficient protection from fall related injuries. Unless these surfaces have been tested and meet the ASTM F-1292 standards for Critical Fall Height, young children are at a higher risk to experience serious injuries.

The most important factor in reducing injuries from falls is using surfacing materials that have the appropriate impact attenuation.

How is the Height of Playground Equipment Measured?

The critical fall height of equipment is determined by the distance between the manufacturer’s highest designated play area of the equipment and the surface underneath. Measure from the highest point where a child would be standing to the floor in inches. Note that the measurement would be taken from the bottom of the child’s foot.

Next round the inches to the next full "foot". For example, if the highest level is 38 inches, that is 3 feet and 2 inches. The critical fall height of the play equipment would be 4 feet.

How is the Critical Fall Height Tested?

Testing methods evaluate the shock absorbing properties of a surfacing material. The test involves dropping an instrumented metal head-form onto a sample of the playground surfacing material and recording how fast and hard the metal head-form hit the surfacing material from varying heights. These heights determine the required thickness of each system.

How Do You Know if the Surface Meets the Required Critical Fall Height?

ASTM International provides testing results of products certified by a select group of independent and approved laboratories. Always ask for and receive a test result document that states the Critical Fall Height of the safety flooring product you are purchasing.

Child safety is our primary concern. When you purchase SafeLandings® Shock Absorbing Flooring Systems™, you can rest assured that we’ve done our due diligence to ensure our systems are ASTM F-1292 compliant and meet all critical fall height standards and requirements.