Many organizations and individuals have come together over the past 20 plus years because of a common interest in developing performance requirements for various types of public play equipment that will help reduce life threatening and permanent debilitating injuries to children from 6 months to 12 years of age. ASTM International (ASTM) has provided the opportunity for various interests to work together in a consensus based process to create industry best practice standards for the public good. It is a very open organization and welcomes anyone to join in the process. Each member has an opportunity to be as involved in these standards development processes as they choose. Much of the information was procured on the ASTM Website, www.astm.org to provide this overview to the ASTM organization and how it affects all of us in the public playground industry. Let’s first look at the mission of the ASTM.
ASTM’s Mission Statement
To be the foremost developer and provider of voluntary consensus standards, related technical information, and services having internationally recognized quality and applicability that promote public health and safety, and the overall quality of life; contribute to the reliability of materials, products, systems and services; and facilitate national, regional and international commerce.
Providing the value, strength, and respect of marketplace consensus
In the late 19th century, failures in railroad equipment jeopardized public safety and posed the threat of bringing commerce to a standstill. Recognizing the need for a standardized method of testing the steel used to manufacture railroad components, a group of 20 engineers and professors met on June 16, 1898, and formed the American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials, the forerunner of ASTM International.
ASTM is one of the world’s largest standards developing organizations. An independent, not-for-profit organization, ASTM serves as a forum for producers, users, consumers, and those having a general interest (representatives of government and academia) to meet on common ground and develop voluntary, consensus standards. From the work of over 140 standards-writing technical committees, ASTM publishes standard test methods, specifications, practices, guides, classifications, and terminologies.
ASTM’s standards development activities encompass metals, paints, plastics, textiles, petroleum, construction, energy, the environment, consumer products, medical services and devices, electronics, as well as many other areas. With more than 32,000 volunteer members representing 125 countries, ASTM publishes more than 11,500 standards each year in the 77 volumes of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, CD-ROM, and on- line products. These standards and related information are distributed and used worldwide.
The Basic ASTM Organization Structure
The governing body of ASTM is the Board of Directors, whose members are elected by vote of the entire membership via ballot. The 22-member Board meets twice a year at ASTM Headquarters and in various international locations.
The Board has empowered special standing committees to perform important functions for the Society as a whole. The Committee on Technical Committee Operations (COTCO) develops and maintains the Regulations Governing ASTM Technical Committees and acts upon recommended changes to the Regulations. COTCO is responsible for the interpretation and enforcement of these regulations, jurisdictional disputes with respect to scopes of ASTM technical committees. COTCO develops and recommends means for achieving the most efficient operation of the technical committees as related to their scope, structure, development, and planning.
The Committee on Standards (COS) develops, maintains, and interprets the Form & Style for ASTM Standards and reviews all requests from technical committees for exceptions to this document. COS is responsible for the review and approval of all technical committee recommendations for actions on standards. COS verifies that the procedural requirements of the Society’s regulations and its criteria for due process have been satisfied. The Committee acts to resolve jurisdictional disputes with respect to standards.
The Committee on Publications (COP) advises the Board of Directors on the formulation of publications policy. COP is responsible for the publications program of the Society with the exception of acceptance criteria for the publication of ASTM standards. The Committee may, with the concurrence of the Board of Directors, initiate, continue, expand, or terminate periodicals, journals, series, or other continuing publications with the exception of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards. All standing committees report to the Board of Directors.
Within the formal structure of the Society, the technical committees exist as semiautonomous groups. The Board is responsible for approving the committees’ titles and scopes. Under the purview of the approved scope, the committees are organized into subcommittees and task groups. Each committee develops its own bylaws, which are subject to approval by COTCO. Committees elect their main committee officers in accordance with the nomination and election procedures outlined in the Regulations.
Committees conduct subcommittee and main committee/society review ballots on standards actions and are subject to a procedural review by the Committee on Standards before final approval and publication by ASTM.
Technical subcommittees address specific subjects within the committee scope. Subcommittees may create sections and task groups. The executive subcommittee provides leadership and direction to the main committee. The composition of each executive committee is defined within the respective committee bylaws. Administrative subcommittees provide assistance to the technical subcommittees and may be established in areas, such as editorial review of standards, terminology, government interface, international activities, strategic planning, symposia, awards, and liaison with other technical committees and outside organizations.
Membership in technical committees is open to all interested individuals and organizations. Within the technical committees, membership is classified by voting interest (company or organization) and must be balanced as defined within the ASTM Regulations. ASTM committees usually meet twice a year, either independently or at a committee week, in cities throughout the United States and abroad. Subcommittee and committee members are obliged to respond to ballots on standards actions. Each technical committee is assigned a staff manager who is responsible for the management functions and coordination of administrative services.
ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world--a trusted source for technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services. Known for their high technical quality and market relevancy, ASTM International standards have an important role in the information infrastructure that guides design, manufacturing and trade in the global economy.
ASTM International, originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), was formed over a century ago and has continued to answer the call with consensus standards that have made products and services safer, better, and more cost-effective. The proud tradition and forward vision that started in 1898 is still the hallmark of ASTM International.
Today, ASTM continues to play a leadership role in addressing the standardization needs of the global marketplace. Known for its best in class practices for standards development and delivery, ASTM is at the forefront in the use of innovative technology to help its members do standards development work, while also increasing the accessibility of ASTM International standards to the world.
ASTM continues to be the standards forum of choice of a diverse range of industries that come together under the ASTM umbrella to solve standardization challenges. In recent years, stakeholders involved in issues ranging from safety in recreational aviation, to fiber optic cable installations in underground utilities, to homeland security, have come together under ASTM to set consensus standards for their industries.
Standards developed at ASTM are the work of over 30,000 ASTM members. These technical experts represent producers, users, consumers, government, and academia from over 120 countries. Participation in ASTM International is open to all with a material interest, anywhere in the world
ASTM Consumer Product Standards: Enhancing Product Quality and Buyer Safety
Each and every day, consumers around the world use various products with the confidence that they will work in a reliable and safe manner. ASTM International consumer product standards play a critical role in building trust between manufacturers and consumers about the performance of a wide variety of goods. By helping to improve product reliability, ASTM standards empower manufacturers to deliver high quality products and ultimately give consumers confidence that the products they purchase are safe and ready to use.
ASTM Product Safety Standards: Focus on Emerging Hazards
One of the most valuable contributions of ASTM consumer product safety standards is the manner in which they identify, address, and mitigate emerging hazards in a multitude of products.
To this end, ASTM standards advocate for consumer safety, helping to reduce and eliminate potentially unsafe products before they are placed on store shelves and arrive in homes.
Achieving this goal requires cooperation that goes beyond the responsibilities of an individual manufacturer. Safer products are ensured when all industry stakeholders work together: manufacturers, government regulators, trade and consumer groups, and individual consumers.
ASTM International has long been the consensus standards development forum that brings together diverse stakeholders with a shared interest in making consumer products as safe as possible. The open ASTM system allows all those concerned to engage directly in the standards development process and cooperate in achieving common goals. Through this openness and transparency, ASTM facilitates the development of standards that truly reflect the demands of the global marketplace. And while the use of ASTM standards is voluntary, government regulators have given them the force of law by citing them in legislation, regulations, and codes, as evidenced in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, discussed later.
In the consumer field, ASTM standards address a wide range of areas, including toys, other infant and child products like cribs and playground equipment; household items like candles; cleaning-related tools, such as vacuum cleaners, brooms, and mops; sports equipment, such as safety helmets; leisure activities like amusement rides; and many others. Several ASTM technical committees develop these standards, each of which contributes to enhancing product safety and building consumer confidence.
ASTM Committee F15: Setting Standards for Consumer Product Safety
ASTM International’s largest consumer product standards committee is F15 on Consumer Products, a group that has played an important role in consumer product safety standards for more than 35 years. The committee’s broad global membership of approximately 900 professionals includes stakeholders from the manufacturing and retail environment as well as representatives from government agencies and internationally respected trade and consumer groups. F15’s activities encompass 50 standards writing subcommittees, each of which focuses on a specific product area. F15 stakeholders work proactively in the public interest, forming new task groups on an ongoing basis to address urgent safety issues and newly identified hazards in various products.
ASTM F963: Ensuring Safer Toys
As new concerns about toys and other child-related safety issues have been raised during the last few years, the impact of ASTM International standards has again been brought to the forefront.
With thousands of new toys introduced in the marketplace each year, ASTM standards play a vital role in supporting children’s safety. An important contributor to that safety is ASTM F963, Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, which establishes safety requirements for toys intended for use by children under the age of 14.
The value of ASTM F963 was underscored in 2008, when it became mandatory through the landmark U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. As part of this new law, all toys sold in the United States must meet F963 safety requirements. ASTM F963, which is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee F15.22 on Toy Safety, includes guidelines and test methods to prevent injuries from choking, sharp edges, and other potential hazards. First drafted in 1971, the standard has been enhanced over the years to address new product technologies and innovations.
The latest F963 revision issued at the end of 2008 addresses a wide range of hazards, such as magnet ingestion, jaw entrapment, acoustics issues, flammability testing, impaction, and other critical areas.
Broad Scope of Child Safety Activities
Committee F15’s child safety standards activities also extend to issues, such as pool-related drownings, strangulation by clothing drawstrings, bunk bed injuries, crayon toxicity, and much more.
A particularly important set of standards addresses playground equipment for both public and home use, including issues such as head and neck entrapment, playground layout, accessibility, maintenance, and labeling. These standards include ASTM F1487, Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use, which covers equipment used by children from 2 to 12 years old; and F2373, Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Public Use Play Equipment for Children 6 Months through 23 Months, which provides a standard covering products intended for children 2 years old and younger. The residential play equipment industry is addressed by standard F1148, Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Home Playground Equipment. As of February 2009, all three of these standards were being revised to reflect the latest industry developments.
Safer Sports, Thanks to ASTM Committee F08
Whether aimed at serious professional athletes, or the millions of people who enjoy various recreational activities, the standards of ASTM Committee F08 on Sports Equipment and Facilities assist in making sports safer for all who participate. Formed in 1969, Committee F08 focuses on the development of standards, test methods, and practices for sports equipment, surfaces, and facilities to reduce the inherent risk of injuries. Committee F08 includes approximately 650 members who participate on one or more of 25 technical subcommittees that have responsibility for 130 standards. These standards cover a wide scope of sports areas, including headgear and helmets, bicycles, gymnastics and wrestling equipment, athletic footwear, eye safety, baseball and softball equipment, camping, fitness products, playing surfaces, playground impact attenuating surface systems, and much more.
Committee F08 works closely with third-party certifiers that are in the business of certifying products meeting ASTM International or other standards. It is important for the certifying bodies to be involved in ASTM to understand the intent of the test methods and specifications so they can better implement testing practices in their facilities. In addition, many rules from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations rules reference F08 standards.
F08 Standards Improve Quality of Athletic Fields and Other Playing Surfaces
Another important topic of interest for the standards development activities of Committee F08 is athletic field improvement. Through the efforts of several of its subcommittees, F08 has contributed standards that have enhanced the quality of a variety of natural and artificial playing surfaces. Sports like baseball and football, which rely heavily on natural grass surfaces, are aided by such F08 standards as ASTM F2060, Guide for Maintaining Cool Season Turfgrasses on Athletic Fields. Sports stadiums and fields outfitted with artificial turf gain a valuable assist from the standards developed by Subcommittee F08.65 on Artificial Turf Surfaces and Systems. Notable standards include F1015, Test Method for Relative Abrasiveness of Synthetic Turf Playing Surfaces.
F08.65 is also addressing the issue of drainage failures, one of the major problems confronting owners and operators of synthetic turf sports fields. Committee members are currently working on a proposed new standard that provides a vertical permeability test of synthetic turf that will be useful to designers, testing agencies, and contractors in minimizing problems associated with field drainage.
F08 athletic field and surface standards also extend outside the world of sports. One such guide provides an example of close connection among multiple ASTM consumer-related safety standards.
F1292, Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment, covers performance requirements for playground surfaces and surfacing materials. F1292 references several other related ASTM playground safety standards, including F1487 and F1148 mentioned earlier. ASTM F1951 begins to address the accessibility of impact attenuating surfacing systems by measuring the energy required to navigate across the surface system as compared to going up a hard smooth ramped surface.
Safer Amusement Rides Thanks to Committee F24
ASTM Committee F24 on Amusement Rides and Devices is internationally recognized as the premier international authority on amusement ride standards. In 2008, F24 celebrated its 30th year of providing standards and guides that support and improve the strong safety record of the amusement ride industry.
F24’s membership includes a strong global representation, which enhances the acceptance of its standards by a broad range of international stakeholders, including the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, and the Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers International. To support the broad global interest and reach of the committee, all F24 standards are also made available in French and Spanish.
F24’s flagship standard is ASTM F2291, Practice for Design of Amusement Rides and Devices. Often referred to as the “world standard” for amusement ride design, F2291 details specific criteria for the design of rides and devices, and it was developed through the collaborative efforts of ride experts and interested parties from around the globe.
Recent notable activities of Committee F24 include the release of these standards: F2376, Practice for Classification, Design, Manufacture, Construction and Operation of Water Slide Systems; F2374, Practice for Design, Manufacture, Operation and Maintenance of Inflatable Amusement Devices; and F2007, Practice for Design, Manufacture and Operation of Concession Go-Karts and Facilities.
Whether it’s the countless products that support and enhance our daily lives, or the wide range of leisure and recreational activities we enjoy, consumers everywhere can continue to count on the safety and support provided by ASTM standards.
ASTM Standards Impacting the Public Playground Industry
The following ASTM Standards and Standard Guides are found in Volume 15.07 for Sports Equipment and Facilities; Pedestrian/Walkway Safety and Footwear; Amusement Rides and Devices; Snow Skiing
F355-01 Standard Test Method for Shock-Absorbing Properties of Playing Surface Systems and Materials: This test method covers the measurement of certain shock-absorbing characteristics, the impact force-time relationships, and the rebound properties of playing surface systems. This test method is applicable to natural and artificial playing surface systems and to components thereof. Typical playing surfaces are wrestling mats, football fields, soccer fields, playgrounds, and so forth.
F1292-04 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment: This specification establishes minimum performance requirements for the impact attenuation of playground surfacing materials installed within the use zone of playground equipment. This specification is specific to surfacing used in conjunction with playground equipment, such as that described in Specifications F1148, F1487, F1918, F1951, and F2075 and establishes an impact attenuation performance criterion for playground surfacing materials expressed as a critical fall height.
F1951-08 Standard Specification for Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment: This specification establishes minimum characteristics for those factors that determine accessibility. This specification applies to all types of materials that can be used under and around playground equipment and must also comply with Specification F1292 if the surface is within the fall zone. This specification does not imply that an injury cannot be incurred if the surface system complies with this specification.
F2075-04e1 Standard Specification for Engineered Wood Fiber for Use as a Playground Safety Surface Under and Around Playground Equipment: This specification establishes minimum characteristics for those factors that determine particle size, consistency, purity, and ability to drain. Engineered wood fiber that meets the requirements of this specification must comply with Specification F1292, if the surface is in the use zone as defined in Specification F1487. A sample of wood fiber that meets the requirements of this specification may be designated engineered wood fiber and be suitable for playground safety surfacing but it does not imply that an injury cannot occur if the engineered wood fiber complies with this specification.
F2223-04e1 Standard Guide for ASTM Standards on Playground Surfacing: This guide covers standards for selecting and specifying surface systems under and around playground equipment. This guide describes how to apply existing ASTM standards to evaluate the impact attenuation, accessibility characteristics, and product characteristics when selecting surfacing systems for use under and around playground equipment. This guide does not imply that an injury cannot occur when the surface system complies with standards referred to in this guide.
F2479-07 Standard Guide for Specification, Purchase, Installation and Maintenance of Poured-In-Place Playground Surfacing: This guide covers information with regard to the design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of poured-in-place playground surfaces. This document is a guide and not intended to be used as a specification; it should be used for educational purposes. This guide outlines the issues of compliance with existing standards, durability, and functional longevity and reviews issues such as edge treatment, abutting surfaces, and combinations with other surfaces designed for circulation or protective surfaces. This guide presents maintenance considerations and general procedures that should be followed by the owner/operator. This guide outlines aging considerations such as loss of impact absorption, cracking, shrinkage, heaving, and how to prevent, accommodate, or rectify those issues. This guide presents warranty considerations and it does not imply that an injury cannot occur when the surface system is compliant with the standards referred to in this guide.
The Following Standards are found in Volume 15.11 for Consumer Products; Light Sports Aircraft; Unmanned Aircraft Systems; Normal and Utility Category Airplane Electrical System; Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUV) Systems
F1148-08 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Home Playground Equipment: This consumer safety specification provides safety requirements for various types of home playground equipment intended for use by children aged from over eighteen months through 10 years. It provides requirements for swings intended specifically for toddlers. Different age limits for various requirements are found in this specification which reflects the nature of the hazards and the expected mental or physical ability, or both, of the child to cope with the hazards.
F1487-07ae1 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use: This consumer safety performance specification provides safety and performance standards for various types of public playground equipment. Its purpose is to reduce life-threatening and debilitating injuries. The range of users encompassed by this consumer safety performance specification is the 5th percentile 2-year-old through the 95th percentile 12-year-old. Home playground equipment, amusement rides, sports equipment, fitness equipment intended for users over the age of 12, public use play equipment intended for children 6 months to 24 months, and soft contained play equipment are not included in this specification. Products or materials (site furnishings) that are installed outside the equipment use zone, such as benches, tables, and borders used to contain protective surfacing are not considered playground equipment and are not included in this specification. The standard does not address accessibility. Except as it pertains to the safety issues not covered in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).
F1918-04 Standard Safety Performance Specification for Soft Contained Play Equipment: This safety performance specification provides safety and performance standards for soft contained play equipment. Its purpose is to reduce the potential for life-threatening and debilitating injuries. The range of users encompassed by this consumer safety performance specification is the 5th percentile 2-year-old through the 95th percentile 12-year-old. Public playground equipment, home playground equipment, amusement rides, sports equipment, fitness equipment intended for users over the age of 12, water-related attractions and devices, and toys and juvenile products are not included in this specification. The standard does not address accessibility. Except as it pertains to the safety issues not covered in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).
F2373-08 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Public Use Play Equipment for Children 6 Months through 23 Months: This consumer safety specification provides safety and performance requirements for various types of public use play equipment, such as, but not limited to, composite play structures, climbing equipment, and slides. It is intended to apply to play equipment that is used in places of public assembly, including early care and education facilities, parks, or playgrounds. Public use play areas for children in this age range include both indoor (classroom) settings and outdoor playgrounds. Where appropriate, distinctions will be made between indoor and outdoor settings where there is supervision (for example, a play area that is part of an early care and education facility), and settings with unlimited access (for example, public playgrounds and parks). The range of user is the 5th percentile 6 month old through the 95th percentile 23 month old. The purpose is to reduce the potential for life-threatening and debilitating injuries. Accessory toys attached to play equipment must meet all relevant standards including this consumer safety performance specification. Home playground equipment, amusement park equipment, sports equipment, fitness equipment, soft contained play equipment, tricycles, toys, juvenile care products, such as, but not limited to, infant swings, play yards, expansion gates, and expandable enclosures, furniture (including child-sized house play furnishings and sand-water tables intended primarily for indoor use), bassinets and cradles, infant walkers, bouncer seats, jumpers, infant stationary activity centers, and infant carriers are not included in the scope of this specification.
Much of the content of this article comes from the ASTM Web site www.astm.org and their various standards documents.
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