Laura Miele, PhD, CST-2, Sport, Fitness and Recreation Expert
The American Society Testing Materials International (ASTM) has balloted a new standard that applies to the use of attenuating surfaces for amusement devices that are featured within trampoline parks, theme parks, water parks, family entertainment centers, fitness centers, climbing gyms, gymnastic facilities, sports facilities, skate parks, camps, shopping centers, temporary special events, carnivals, and municipal parks. Currently, there is a need for these elements to have the appropriate impact attenuation surface designed for its intended use.
As co-chair of this new standard, I have seen nuances of various attractions and elements with these above-named areas. In order to provide a safe environment and mitigate hazards, we felt it was imperative that this standard be added to the ASTM. Many of these facilities have elements that provide a false sense of security, utilizing attenuating surfaces that may not be sufficiently proper to shorten the distance of impact from a fall or landing, and not slow down the momentum of a patron.
Therefore, the purpose of this standard is to optimize safety as the patrons use specific equipment that require attenuating surfaces. The intended use of this standard is to provide guidance to optimize safety when elements are designed that require landing in a manner that absorbs the impact and assist in the slowing down of the speed of the patron’s fall.
Once this ballot is approved by the members of the ASTM F24 committee, it will be titled: Standard Practice for the Design, Manufacture, Installation, Operation, Maintenance, Auditing, and Major Modification of Adventure Challenge Areas that Utilize Fall Attenuation Surfaces (unless otherwise voted to change portions of the title).
This standard will provide guidance to manufacturers who design and construct these Adventure Challenge Areas so that the element constructed has an attenuating device underneath that is suitable to the height of the fall, and the manner in which a body in motion will fall or move prior to landing on the attenuating surface area.
There will be design criteria, as well as quality, manufacturer, construction and installation requirements that follow practices within the F-2291 standard and 1193-18a. (to name a few).
We are proposing that there is a cross-certification between the elements manufactured and constructed relative to the attenuating fall surfaces. It is important that this be proposed as it places responsibility of the manufacturer to do to their due diligence in testing of the fall heights so that the landing surface is proper to accommodate, and be utilized in tandem with, the element specified in the design.
The proposed ballot further outlines the intentions of the other ASTM standards that it will follow. This ballot is significant as we are seeing continuous evolution in the amusement industry in a variety of Adventure Challenge courses that are being constructed but not always being properly tested through ASTM’s protocol on device analysis.
We are hoping that this standard will offer guidance not only to manufacturers but to owners/operators to build facilities in accordance with ASTM standards, therefore providing a safer experience for the patrons who visit their facilities.