Suspended Hazards

Suspended Hazards

A suspended hazard is a non-rigid component such as a cable, wire or unattached swing chain that is suspended between play structures or from the ground to the play structure that is within 45 degrees of horizontal, unless it is above 84 inches and is a minimum of 1” wide at its widest point. In addition, the rope, cable, or chain must be fastened at both ends and may not be capable of being looped back on itself creating an inside loop perimeter greater than 5 inches.1

The following are exceptions to this specification:

  • “Multiple (2 or more) suspended components (cables, wire, rope or similar components) located at two or more elevations, may be suspended below 84 in. (2130 mm) when they comply with all other aspects of the single suspended component section and cannot be looped or stretched to contact another suspended component(s).”2
  • “Chain or cable used to support a swing…”3
  • “Rope, cable or chain with a length of 7.0 in. (178 mm) or less may be attached at one end only. Multiple lengths of such cords that can contact each other would be treated as one length of cord.”4
  • “Climbing net structures shall be exempt … but shall still meet the requirements (of not being able to be looped back on itself creating an inside loop perimeter greater than 5 inches).”5

A 5” perimeter equates to a 1.6” diameter loop.6

Some examples of suspended hazards are:

  • A cable or rope used for adventure playgrounds that is less than 7’ high and less than 45 degrees in angle that someone might inadvertently run into, injuring their head or neck.
  • A chain meant to suspend a swing that is not attached to a swing. This can be used as a whip and seriously injure a child or an adult on a playground.
  • A cable on a play panel meant to suspend a component of the panel such as a cord on a telephone panel that can be looped back on itself creating a strangulation hazard for a small child.

In addition to following the ASTM International specification for suspended elements, it is also suggested that the elements be brightly colored so they contrast with the surroundings so playground users can see them easily.7 The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that suspended components “…be located away from high traffic areas.”8

Playground owner/operators are responsible for following this specification.

  • 1. ASTM International (ASTM) Standard F 148711-. “Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use,” Section 6.6.1, p.7.
  • 2. Ibid. ASTM F 1487-11, Section 6.6.2.1, p.7.
  • 3. Ibid. ASTM F 1487-11, Section 6.6.2.2, p.7.
  • 4. Ibid. ASTM F 1487-11, Section 6.6.2.3, p.7.
  • 5. Ibid. ASTM F 1487-11, Section 6.6.2.4, p.7.
  • 6. National Recreation and Park Association, National Playground Safety Institute Certification Course for Playground Safety Inspectors, Manual, In Class Material, Section 5, Part 3 & 4, Question #9, p. V36.
  • 7. Op. cit., ASTM F 1487-07a, Section 6.6, p. 8.
  • 8. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) publication No. 325-10, “Public Playground Safety Handbook, Section 3.5, p. 16.