Critical fall height – what is it and do I need it?
Critical fall height
This is a reference you hear a lot when considering play equipment and safety surfacing.
According to British Standards EN 1177:2008 all play equipment with a free fall height above 0.6m requires a critical fall height certified flooring around the play equipment (this is the maximum platform height from which a child can fall from). It is also worth noting that the maximal fall height should not be greater than 3m. This means that the free fall height shouldn’t exceed 3m.
Critical Fall Height certification
As an experienced and responsible safety surfacing manufacturer we have had our products tested by Labosport and we display all of our certifications on our website. This testing applies to our wetpour (resin bound rubber surfaces) and our loose fill range of products, including our vastly used 20mm play chippings and our fantastic recycled rubber mulch.
Do I have to top it up?
Another key factor to consider when applying a loose fill surface such as our 20mm rubber play chippings is material loss. This basically means that certain products such as bark and wood chippings can be blown away or can rot away quite quickly. Due to the nature of our 20mm rubber chippings they do not rot or blow away – so periodical topping up is not really an issue. To be fair when you consider how children use play equipment and play surfacing there will always be an element of material loss.
How far do I put the safety surface?
The area surrounding the play equipment is also calculated under BS EN:1177:2008. For areas where the CFH (Critical Fall Height) is 0.6m or under there is actually no legal requirement for critical fall height but a rule of thumb would be to apply a safety surface for an area of 1m from the edge of the play equipment.
For areas that have a critical fall height of up to 1.5 metres the safety surfacing area around the play equipment should extend for 1.5 metres from the equipment edge. For play equipment with a critical fall height of over 1.5 metres then this formula applies;
Play equipment critical fall height x 0.66 plus 50cm. Therefore as an example – play equipment with a critical fall height of 2 metres would be calculated as follows:
200 (cm) x 0.66 + 50(cm) = 182 (cm). Therefore the safety surfacing should be applied to an area of 1.82 metres from the edge of the play equipment.
Critical fall height is an important factor that needs to be considered even at the planning stage. Whether for a private garden or a public park, critical fall height should be considered. We also need to remember that play should be stimulating, entertaining, inclusive and interactive, but safety should be at the forefront of our planning.
Feel free to get in touch if you would like more information on any of our safer surfacing products.