Are current playground safety standards adequate for preventing arm fractures?

Med J Aust. 2004 Jun 7;180(11):562-5. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2004.tb06092.x.


Objective: To assess compliance with current standards of playgrounds where children have sustained a fall-related arm fracture.

Design, setting and participants: Between October 2000 and December 2002, a consecutive prospective series of 402 children aged under 13 years who fell from playground equipment and sustained an arm fracture was identified by emergency department staff in five Victorian hospitals. Trained field testers measured playground equipment height, surface type and depth, and surface impact attenuation factors to determine compliance with safety standards.

Main outcome measures: Playground compliance with current Australian safety standards.

Results: Ninety-eight percent of playgrounds had a recommended type of surface material. The mean surface depth was 11.1 cm (SD, 5.0 cm) and the mean equipment height was 2.04 m (SD, 0.43 m). Although over 85% of playgrounds complied with recommended maximum equipment height and surface impact attenuation characteristics, only 4.7% complied with recommended surface depth.

Conclusion: Playgrounds where children have sustained an arm fracture generally comply with all important safety recommendations except surface depth. Playground fall-related arm fracture requires specific countermeasures for prevention, distinct from head injury prevention guidelines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Arm Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control*
  • Hospitalization / trends
  • Humans
  • Humeral Fractures / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Radius Fractures / prevention & control
  • Safety / standards*
  • Ulna Fractures / prevention & control
  • Victoria