State Regulations

At the state level, lawmakers - often urged by consumers - have passed legislation or regulations addressing playground safety. Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming have adopted all or parts of CPSC or ASTM.

NPPS believes that all states should adopt the CPSC guidelines. The overall U.S. safety grade in the NPPS study was a C+. NPPS found that for the states that have adopted the CPSC guidelines, it was found that the grade would be a B. For the states that did not adopt the CPSC guidelines, the grade would be a C.

Arkansas

CPSC guidelines adopted as standard for outdoor play areas for early childhood programs funded under the Better Chance Program. Sections of CPSC also adopted for regulations concerning licensing of child care facilities.

The Arkansas Department of Education Rules and Regulations Governing Arkansas Better Chance Program Regulations (Code Ark. R. 005 24 001) sets the general guidelines for the operation of early childhood programs funded under the Arkansas Better Chance Program. In section 13.13, the regulation outlines that outdoor play areas should be developmentally appropriate and meet the Consumer Product Safety requirements for child care facilities (Ark Code Ann. § 20-78-201-20 and the Child Care Facility Licensing Act, Act 434 of 1969 as amended) the regulation also requires that all equipment installed on or after September 1, 1997, which is designed to be permanently anchored, must meet and be installed according to CPSC standards which are in effect at the time (Section 902(2) and 802(1) respectively).

California

CPSC guidelines adopted for all public playgrounds. No state funds may be used for the planning, development, or redevelopment of a playground unless the playground conforms to the regulations.

The California Health and Safety Code (115725) was the first state legislation to mandate development of comprehensive statewide regulations for playground safety, requiring adoption of such regulations by January 1, 1992. The statewide regulations are required to be at least as protective as the CPSC guidelines. They also must include special provisions for childcare settings and address the needs of the developmentally disabled. After the effective date of these regulations, no state funds may be used for the planning, development or redevelopment of a playground unless the playground conforms to the regulations. In addition, all public agencies must specifically upgrade their playgrounds by replacement or improvement as necessary to satisfy the regulations (115730).

Until recently, however, no regulations had been enacted. Title 22 "Safety Regulations for Playgrounds" of the California Code of Regulation was filed on December 12, 1999 and went into effect on January 1, 2000. These statewide regulations provide detailed specifications for the design, installation and maintenance of public playgrounds, referencing compliance with CPSC and ASTM guidelines as mandatory. In addition, operators of public playgrounds are required to have an initial inspection of their playgrounds by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector by October 1, 2000; then upgrades must be made to satisfy the regulations as required by the previous noted code provisions.

Connecticut

CPSC guidelines have been adopted as voluntary for public use playgrounds.

Connecticut's Department of Consumer Protection (Title 21a, Chapter 416, Section 21a-12a) required the development of a training and educational program and the adoption of standards for playground safety issues and the adoption of standards for playground equipment. The state subsequently adopted CPSC guidelines-as voluntary rather than mandatory-with an effective date of January 1, 1997 and made the annual presentation of a training and education program merely permissive rather than required.

Florida

Florida's Child Care Standards include playground safety.

Florida's Child Care Standards (F.A.C. 65C-22.003) include playground safety in the list of potential courses required to be taken by childcare providers.

Illinois

Licensing standards for child care centers require that protective surfacing be in compliance with CPSC guidelines.

Illinois' licensing standards for day care centers (89 Ill. Adm. Code 407.390) set forth requirements for playground equipment at day care centers. The standards require that protective surfacing be in compliance with CPSC guidelines. Other components of the standards do not specifically mandate compliance with CPSC guidelines but outline similar requirements. For example, the Illinois law requires that there be a six-foot fall zone around all equipment except for swings. The fall zone for swings must extend both forward and backward a distance of at least two times the height measured from the supporting bar. In addition, swing seats are to be made of rubber or impact-absorbing material and design. Standards are included to prevent entrapment hazards such that no openings between 3 ½ and 9 inches shall exist. In addition, daily inspection of the playground is required by a day care director or designee before children go out to play to ensure that no hazards are present.

Michigan

Require that all new playground equipment must meet CPSC and ASTM specifications.

Laws in Michigan require all new playground equipment to satisfy both CPSC and ASTM specifications, effective September 1, 1997, while also imposing state civil penalties for those who violate these specifications for manufacturing or assembling playground equipment.

New Jersey

CPSC guidelines have been adopted for public use playgrounds.

New Jersey enacted a playground safety law on March 23, 1999 to require that the Department of Community Affairs and Department of Education promulgate rules and regulations for the design, installation, inspection, and maintenance of playgrounds. This law also mandates that those rules and regulations be those contained within the CPSC guidelines. Further, it requires that special provisions be included to address playgrounds appropriate for children in childcare settings. Government entities and private entities must upgrade their playgrounds to satisfy the rules and regulations for surfacing within five years and for all other elements within eight years. Non-profit entities must upgrade their playgrounds to satisfy the rules and regulations for surfacing within five years and for all other elements within fifteen years. All playgrounds built more than six months after the effective date of the rules and regulations must conform to those rules and regulation. New Jersey PIRG was instrumental in achieving this statewide mandate.

North Carolina

Sections of the CPSC guidelines have been adopted in child care facilities.

North Carolina addresses sections of the CPSC guidelines. The sections of CPSC that have been adopted include requirements for use zones and surfacing, age and developmentally appropriate equipment, and prohibitions of protrusions and entrapments. These state requirements also prohibits the use of gravel for surfacing if the area will serve children less than three years of age.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma's Child Care Standards include playground safety.

The Oklahoma Administrative Code includes standards for playgrounds in child care settings as part of its licensing standards. (O.A.C. 340:110-3-22). The standards make no mention of CPSC guidelines; rather, the standards set out, for the most part, weaker requirements than CPSC and ASTM. For example, the regulations maintain that grass is an acceptable surface under equipment less than four feet high (340:110-3-22(b) (2) (B)), and that six inches of loose fill material is sufficient for adequate protective surfacing (340: 110-3-22(b) (4)). The regulations set out standards for fall zones of at least six feet for all equipment except for swings, which require a fall zone a distance twice the length of the swing's chain. The regulations also include entrapment and entanglement hazard prevention, as well as swing seat composition requirements.

Rhode Island

Requires that public school playgrounds comply with CPSC guidelines.

Following a statewide audit of municipal playgrounds by the Department of Health, personnel in local parks and recreation received education and training to improve playgrounds. Space bond money was allocated to remove old, dangerous equipment and installing new, safer playgrounds.

In addition, in December 1999, Rhode Island's Rules and Regulations for School Health Programs (R16-SCHO, Section 35) were amended to require that all public school playground equipment and surfaces meet current CPSC safety guidelines by July 1, 2002. To ensure that school officials understand the new rules and regulations and how to implement them, the Department of Education provided a statewide workshop.

Tennessee

Tennessee's Child Care Standards suggest that child care centers use CPSC guidelines for guidance on playground construction and maintenance.

Tennessee's Licensure Rules for Child Care Centers Serving Pre-School Children (Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 1240-4-3-.08) include that the CPSC's "Handbook on Public Playground Safety" or similar authority be used for guidance on playground construction and maintenance. While consultation with the guidelines is suggested, compliance with the guidelines is not required. In fact, Tennessee rules explicitly state that fall zones should be between four and six feet, which is not in compliance with CPSC guidelines, which require a minimum of six feet. However, the Tennessee rules for playground surfacing (in appendix E) require that surfacing type and depth be in compliance with CPSC's guidelines.

Texas

Requires compliance with the CPSC guidelines for the purchase and installation of new playground equipment and surfacing if public funds are used.

The Texas Health & Safety Code (756.061) requires substantial compliance with the CPSC guidelines for the purchase and installation of new playground equipment and surfacing beginning on September 1, 1997 if public funds are used.

Utah

Licensing for child care centers require that the protective surfacing must comply with CPSC guidelines and ASTM standards.

The administrative rules setting forth standards for child care center licensing (Utah Admin. R. 430-60) require that the protective surfacing in child care center playgrounds must comply with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and ASTM guidelines. The rules also require a fall zone of six feet surrounding all playground equipment.

Virginia

Virginia's Child Care Standards include playground safety.

The Minimum Standards for Licensed Child Day Centers for Virginia (22 VAC 15-30-310) require that a center develop written playground safety procedures, which must include provision for active supervision by staff and a method of maintaining resilient surfacing.

Wyoming

Wyoming's regulations cover child care centers and family child care homes.

Rules address outdoor play space size, supervision, surfacing, use zones and equipment. Wyoming also has standards for weather conditions and natural environment of play areas. For further regulations in Wyoming, please visit the Department of Family Services for the state by clicking the link below.