Critical Fall Height

What is Critical Fall Height?

The critical fall height of a playground surface is based on the height of the highest piece of equipment that a child can stand on. This height will determine the thickness or impact attenuation a play surface must have as described in ASTM F-1292.


Why is Critical Fall Height Important?

There are many companies that would tell you not to worry about the critical fall height of your play area surfacing. These places may even have a long history of injury free play but all it takes is one bad fall by a child that can result in life threatening injuries. Each year over 200,000 children are injured in playground falls. Don't wait! Once a child in your care is severely injured or even worse, suffers a fatal injury, the money saved by installing a shock absorbing surface becomes very unimportant.


How is the Critical Fall Height Determined?

The most common way that playground surfaces are tested is by evaluating the shock absorbing properties of the surfacing material. This method 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.


How is the Height of Playground Equipment Measured?

The critical fall height of equipment is determined by the distance between the highest designate play area (where the child would be standing at the highest point of normal play) of the equipment and the play surface underneath. Many pieces of play equipment have tops or coverings so the measurement would not be taken from that point but from the highest point where a child would be standing during normal play.