Water Parks: Inputs Wanted for Splash Pad Slip Resistance Standard

“Splash pads” are areas that contain water-play features and may contain play structures, but do not permit water to accumulate to any real depth. Their aliases include aquatic play pad, spray zone, spray pool, spray pad, spray deck, rain deck, and splash deck. There are 5,000–10,000 commercial or public splash pads in the USA, and the number is growing.

There is no U.S. standard for slip resistance of splash pads, and most U.S. test methods use hard rubber sliders that are not at all representative of bare feet. There are many slip and fall accidents on these wet playgrounds. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data base National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, in 2014 there were some 20,000 injuries on pool decks, splash pads, or water parks resulting in an emergency room visit. There have been at least 20 splash pads that have been closed at least temporarily due to injuries.

Manufacturer Life Floor is spearheading an effort for NSF (formerly National Sanitation Foundation, not to be confused with National Floor Safety Institute NFSI) to add an improved splash pad safety standard to their standard NSF 50 . They propose that the surface must absorb impact from a vertical fall while also preventing injury during a horizontal skid, and must provide a wet Pendulum Test Value (using a soft rubber slider) of 40 or higher without being so abrasive as to cut skin. Safety Direct America has been conducting this pendulum testing for many years for our cruise ship clients and others. We also test for Sustainable Slip Resistance to see if the wet slip resistance will stand up under wear.

If you want to make inputs into the proposed standard, please email splashpadsafety@lifefloor.com. The new standard should preferably be acceptable worldwide.

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