ASTM F 1487 requires that all access routes within the play area must comply with the requirements of ASTM F 1292 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems under and around Playground Equipment and ASTM F 1951 Standard Specification for Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment.
At this time, Accessibility Testing to comply with ASTM F 1951 can only be conducted with a laboratory test called the Wheelchair Work Measurement Method. There is no approved devise for conducting field tests. There is a new portable field testing device developed by Beneficial Designs called the Rotational Penetrometer that can test the firmness and stability of a surface as well as the existing lab test. This devise measures the firmness and stability of all floor surfaces including playgrounds, park trails and office carpeting. Repeatability testing of the devise was conducted at the ASTM Meeting in Atlanta on November 12, 2009 and the results were very positive. This photo shows Safeplay by Design participating as one of the approved testing labs at the ASTM repeatability testing. Hopefully this process will be completed in the near future. The goal is to require that all playground access routes to be tested for compliance with the ADA requirements for a firm and stable path of travel.
Surface Accessibility testing is not required by law at this time but if this new field testing procedure is approved it may because ADA accessibility is a Federal requirement. At this time a product can pass the lab test but not be able to perform adequately on the actual installation or the surface may lose its accessibility after use without proper maintenance. Customers should require that all surfacing products purchased for use in a playground and used in an accessible route be certified by the manufacturers to comply with ASTM F 1951. When this field testing procedure is adopted mandatory field testing of all new surface installations and repeat inspections on a regular basis may be required under ADA. Even if it is not mandated, "Best Practice" would indicate that all new surfaces should be field tested on installation and on a regular basis to verify continued compliance.
The Rotational Penetrometer shown here is placed on the surface to be tested. The operator stands on the two base plates. The devise is slowly lowered to the surface and secured. The wheel is mounted on a spring loaded axis that pushes the wheel into the surface and the firmness of the surface is recorded. The wheel is rotated in 4-90 degree turns and a second reading is taken that measures the stability of the surface. The test is done 5 times in each test area and the five readings for firmness and the five readings for stability are averaged.
At this time there are only 34 of these devices and most of them are owned by governmental agencies or manufacturers of surfacing products. There are only a handful of these devices owned by private firms. Safeplay by Design, Inc. is one of those companies. The devices are relatively cheap in comparison to the Triax 2000 that is used for Impact Attenuation so I assume there will be many devices purchased when this specification is adopted. I will certainly provide the service when the specification is adopted but for the time being your priority should be having the playground equipment certified. Require the installer or supplier to provide certification that the surfacing is compliant with ASTM F 1292 and F 1951. The second priority is to have impact testing of your surfacing.