Surfacing the Accessible Playground

18 Poured in Place Rubber (PIP) PIP was recorded as the surface material requiring the fewest instances of maintenance. Maintenance areas were noted where the surface had cracks, buckles, openings or a granular layer had worn away under high tra ffi c areas like swings, transfer steps and the egress at slides. While PIP had the fewest instances requiring maintenance, it is s Ɵ ll notable because the surface repairs can be extensive. Repairs must be done by either the original installer or professional cer Ɵ fi ed by the manufacturer resul Ɵ ng in added costs. The patch repairs also necessitate cu ƫ ng away a larger sec Ɵ on of surfacing in order to fi ll and level the de fi cient area. Tiles (TIL) TIL sites were recorded with a high number of loca Ɵ ons in need of maintenance. TIL de fi ciencies included punctures holes ranging from .50 inches to more than 2 inches in diameter; and instances where the seams had started to shi Ō or buckle crea Ɵ ng openings and changes in level along the accessible route. It was unclear whether the puncture holes were products of inten Ɵ onal vandalism or uninten Ɵ onal damage from users stepping on rocks and other foreign objects with enough force to penetrate the surface. Playground owners in the NCA study reported their maintenance crews were able to replace the TIL with puncture holes. De fi ciencies were also iden Ɵ fi ed at sites surfaced with a combina Ɵ on TIL and EWF. The intent of the playground design was to use the TIL as the primary accessible route to points of entry/egress and fi ll the remaining use zone with EWF. The loose fi ll par Ɵ cles of EWF were sca Ʃ ered throughout the play area, across the Ɵ les, concrete walkway and in the grass. Some of the par Ɵ cles had started to lodge in the TIL seams causing separa Ɵ on at the seams. There were even instances where the par Ɵ cles had lodged so deep in the seams that the adhesive had degraded and the TIL had separated from the concrete subsurface. Over Ɵ me, these areas would be iden Ɵ fi ed with changes in level and openings requiring repair or replacement of the individual Ɵ les. Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) EWF sites were recorded in need of maintenance most frequently and earliest in the NCA study. Sites surfaced with EWF were commonly found to have an undula Ɵ ng surface material crea Ɵ ng changes in level, along with running and cross slopes exceeding the maximum allowable standards. This would result in non-compliant accessible routes to play components. Large areas where the loose material had been displaced under heavy use areas with mo Ɵ on such as at swings, slides, sliding poles, climbers, spinners, and teeter to Ʃ ers were observed at all of the sample sites with EWF. A kick-out area at a swing could be as large as 3 Ō . x 8 Ō . with a depth of more than 5 inches. The accessibility standards require the minimum 30 x 48 inch clear fl oor space for transfer to/from the accessible play components to have a level surface with less than a 2.08 percent cross slope in all direc Ɵ ons. The displaced surface material at loca Ɵ ons such as the bo Ʃ om of slides, a swing, or ground level play component rendered the accessible route to the play component non- compliant with the accessibility standards. Maintenance issues at sites began to emerge where the product was fi lled at the kick-out area rather than the raked level, compacted and then fi lled and compacted. Where the kick-out areas had been fi lled, the surface material would eventually be displaced. Over Ɵ me this created higher undula Ɵ ng mounds at the front and back of the kick-out area and greater cross slopes within the required clear fl oor space. At loca Ɵ ons where the EWF was paired with a unitary surface, de fi ciencies were iden Ɵ fi ed at the transi Ɵ on between the two surface materials. The EWF had se Ʃ led by 1-5 inches crea Ɵ ng a change in level and excessive running slope up to 16 percent at the transi Ɵ on. This was most prevalent at sites installed with PIP as the primary access route. At loca Ɵ ons where TIL was intended as the primary accessible route and EWF was used as secondary safety surfacing, the EWF par Ɵ cles began contamina Ɵ ng the TIL seams. To the layman, the terms EWF and woodchips are o Ō en, incorrectly, interchanged. The di ff erence between EWF and wood chips are the addi Ɵ onal processes beyond the typical landscape chipper. Unlike woodchips out of the chipping equipment, EWF is shredded again, stamped/ fl a Ʃ ened and made pliable to the extent that the par Ɵ cles will weave together to create a traversable, impact a Ʃ enua Ɵ ng surface. In addi Ɵ on, there is an ASTM standard speci fi ca Ɵ on for EWF (ASTM F2075) further distancing the material from any product made on site or purchased from a nursery or home improvement store. The ASTM standard for EWF requires the par Ɵ cles be small enough to pass through a series of three sieves, ¾ inch, 3/8 inch and No. 16 (0.0469 inch). The sample is considered compliant if no more than 1 percent residue is le Ō on any individual sieve. Large wood par Ɵ cle chips, chunks and shredded twigs were found at all of the EWF sample sites. The observable quan Ɵ ty of large wood par Ɵ cles raised into ques Ɵ on whether a test sample from any of the sites would comply with the ASTM standard speci fi ca Ɵ on for EWF and speci fi cally the sieve test. In addi Ɵ on to the large par Ɵ cles, there were instances where vegeta Ɵ on and mold were found growing in the surface material. Hybrid Surface Systems (HYB) As tested within 12 months of installa Ɵ on, all three HYB surface systems were observed to have minimal de fi ciencies, comparable to PIP. One of the most commonly noted de fi ciencies among the HYB was separa Ɵ on at the seams that created openings and changes in level greater than ½ inch. A build up of sta Ɵ c electricity was also found to occur seasonally with the ar Ɵ fi cial grass hybrid system. A Longitudinal Study of Playground Surfaces to Evaluate Accessibility: Final Report www.ncaonline.org

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