Protective Barrier

Protective Barrier

A Protective Barrier on a playground structure is defined as “An enclosing device around an elevated surface that prevents both inadvertent and deliberate attempts to pass through the device.”1

Protective barriers are required to protect children from jumping or falling from elevated surfaces that are more than 30” above the surface when meant for use by children ages 2-5. For play structures intended for 5-12 year olds, protective barriers are required on surfaces greater than 48”.2 The height of the barriers above the elevated surface intended for 2-5 year olds is 29”. The height for ages 5-12 is 38”.3

The height of the barrier is determined by the average size of children in each age group. The height is selected to prevent children from falling over the top of the barrier.4

Protective barriers may not contain designated play surfaces and must be designed to discourage climbing.

Elevated surfaces requiring protective barriers must be completely surrounded by the barrier except for entrance and exit openings required for the attached play components. The exceptions to this design requirement are stairs, ramps, and upper body equipment.5

Spacing within the barriers or between the barrier and the surface must not permit passage of the torso probe used by playground safety inspectors.6

Protective barriers may be as simple as a rung enclosure or may be a decorative or a play panel.

  • 1. ASTM International (ASTM) Standard F 1487-11, “Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use,” Section 3, 3.1.29, p. 3.
  • 2. Ibid. ASTM F 1487-11, Section 7,, p. 9.
  • 3. Op. cit., ASTM F 1487-11, Section 7,, p. 10.
  • 4. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) publication No. 325-10, “Public Playground Safety Handbook, Section 5, 5.1.3, p. 21.
  • 5. Op. cit., ASTM F-1487-11, Section 7,, p. 9.
  • 6. Op. cit., ASTM F-1487-11, Section 7,, p. 10.