Safety surfaces play a crucial role in mitigating the risks associated with playground equipment. Where children play, falls are a given. The shock absorbing properties of the surface directly underneath and surrounding the equipment determine whether a fall can lead to serious (head) injuries.
Many playgrounds are therefore outfitted with artificial surface material which has a certified shock absorption rating. Other surface materials such as sand, grass or wood chips are also used. Because the properties of the surface can deteriorate over time, it is necessary to include this aspect in inspections.
To check whether a surface meets the requirements, we have special equipment to carry out a Head Injury Criterion (HIC) test according to the NEN-EN 1177 standard.
The Head Injury Criterion (HIC) is a measure of the likelihood of head injury arising from an impact. Head injury is an injury that results in trauma to the skull or brain. The HIC can be used to assess safety related to vehicles, personal protective gear, sport equipment and playground equipment. - Source: Wikipedia
The wireless HIC Meter consists of hemispherical mass containing an acceleration sensor and a magnet which is attached to a handheld device. The inspector holds the device up to the required height. To carry out the test, the electromagnet that holds the handle is disengaged causing the device to fall. The device registers the acceleration during the fall and the rapid deceleration during the impact with the ground. A bluetooth connected device (usually a smartphone) translates the results of the test into a HIC value which indicates whether the shock attenuation of the surface is suffifient, based on the applicable standard (NEN-EN 1177).
Usually, playgrounds are outfitted with artificial surface material which has a certified shock attenuation rating. Due to wear and tear and the influence of the elements, the shock attenuating properties of the surface can deteriorate over time. In such cases, our inspectors carry out a Head Injury Criterion (HIC) test to verify whether the surface material still meets the standards.