A number of new product standards have been introduced over the past few years, such as EN 16630 for outdoor fitness equipment and EN 16899 for Parkour equipment. Additionally, a new technical report (TR 16879) has been published describing how playground and fitness equipment should be distinguished from each another.
Separation of areas with different levels of risk
Playground equipment is to be placed in groups intended for different age groups. More importantly, the playground equipment needs to be distinguished from fitness equipment in some way.
This is not to stop children from having access to the fitness area and so make it impossible for them to use equipment involving a higher level of risk. Instead, the idea is to make sure that children do not inadvertently move over and start using the more risky fitness equipment.
The bigger the difference in risks between the two areas, the more clearly they must be distinguished. For example, in reality, this means that a fitness area adjacent to a playground should not have any skating ramps, free weights or muscle-training equipment that poses a risk of crushing.
To ensure that a higher-risk fitness area is not confused with a playground, the equipment must look like fitness equipment and must not include any playground structures such as swings or climbing frames with slides, etc.
Some pieces of fitness equipment may have two distinctly different uses. For example, chinning bars are common in playgrounds. It’s a simple climbing device allowing children to hang and swing from it and even climb to sit on top of it. In playgrounds, the bar is usually installed at a low height, maybe one metre from the ground. At the same time, the chinning bar is a full-fledged fitness device when placed high enough in a fitness area where the free height of fall is one metre lower than in playgrounds.
Impact absorbing surfacing
A lot of things have been said and written about the impact absorbing surfacing of playgrounds. Simply said, there are three things to be considered when it to comes to impact areas: the size of the area, the required shock absorption capacity based on the free height of fall, and elimination of overlapping impact areas where forced movement is involved.
If a piece of fitness equipment, say a chinning bar, is placed next to a playground, its impact absorbing surfacing must meet the same requirements as the rest of the playground area. However, if the area is designed exclusively for fitness use, the requirements are less stringent.
Muscle-training equipment, including stationary equipment like the chinning bar, can be installed on a harder surface than playground equipment. Up to the free height of fall of one metre, the surface may be completely hard. A lawn or topsoil is acceptable up to a free height of fall of 150 cm. As fitness equipment normally does not involve any forced movements, the impact areas may overlap.
When a Parkour area is designed exclusively for training and not for play and it is located away from any playground, the equipment may be installed on a completely hard surface up to the free height of fall of 160 cm. With greater heights of fall, the shock absorption capacity must be equivalent to two thirds of the free height of fall specified for the product. For example, a structure with a height of 240 cm may be installed on a surface with a critical free height of fall of only 160 cm.