A protrusion on playground equipment is a projection that has the potential to cause bodily injury to a user who comes in contact with it.1 Protrusions are not allowed to be on playground equipment. A Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) uses his projection gauges to determine whether projections are protrusions.2

Protrusions can be as small as a nail or bolt, or as large as a handhold or rung that is projecting out from play equipment.

Typically, projections are bolts that are too long. Bolts cannot extend more than two threads beyond the nut. They are found under decks, on the sides of composite equipment at points of attachment and on frames of swings and freestanding equipment. These protrusions can cause scalp or skin lacerations. If they are up high enough on swings or freestanding equipment, they also have the potential to be entanglement hazards that would catch loose clothing and cause strangulation.

In early childhood settings and public playground areas with equipment intended for use of young children, older spring rocking equipment is sometimes found with projecting handholds and foot rests. The handholds are at just the right height to cause an eye socket injury if a small child should come in contact with them.

Older playground structures manufactured prior to 1993 sometimes have rungs projecting from the uprights that were used for climbing. These projections can be both protrusions and entanglement hazards. Falling against these protrusions could cause severe bruising or internal injuries.

Protrusions can also be found on swings and slides where there is a potential for an impact injury. CPSIs have a special 1/8” projection gauge to test for protrusions on swings and slides. Bolts on the bedways of slides should not project beyond the face of the gauge. Bolts on the front, back, or underside of swings should also not project beyond the face of the gauge.3

  • 1. ASTM International (ASTM) standard F 1487-11, “Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use,” 3.1.31, p. 3.
  • 2. Ibid., ASTM F1487, Section 6.3, pp. 6-7.
  • 3. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) publication #325-10, “Public Playground Safety Handbook,” Appendix B.2.2 and B.2.3. pp. 49-50.