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The grass mat standard

"Does your grass mat surfacing conform to the standard?" is a question that we get asked quite often by new customers

And honestly, it’s a question that all buyers should be asking when it comes to safety in playgrounds. If you’re new to the world of grass mats, you might have a whole host of questions related to the grass mat standard, which we’ve helpfully answered here! (If you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment, or email us at or call us on 01564 742811)

What is the grass mat standard?

The British Standard, better known as BS EN 1177 (2018), specifies a method for determining the impact reduction of playground surfacing. It defines a “Critical Fall Height” for surfacing, which represents the upper limit of the surface’s effectiveness in reducing head injury.

What do the tests involve in order to meet this standard?

Testing provides a method for assessment of safety surfaces. In accordance with EN 1177 (2018), test specimens are struck with an instrumented headform from a series of different drop heights.

The instrumented headform measures impact energy to determine the head injury criterion (HIC) and peak acceleration (gmax). The certificated Critical Fall Height is the lowest drop point that produces a HIC value of 1,000 or a gmax value of 200.

Are there different types of tests?

Technically, yes, there are two types of test conditions – concrete base and field base tests.

The grass mat standard stipulates that all laboratory tests shall be carried out on a flat, rigid concrete. These are known as concrete base tests. (Alternatively they can be tested on a substrate of sufficient mass, density and thickness that makes no significant contribution to the test result.)

Products installed in combination with natural materials intended to influence their performance (e.g. soil) cannot be meaningfully tested in the laboratory. These tests – known as grass base tests – cannot be used to indicate the performance of the product under other conditions or in other locations.

When a supplier quotes a certification for a specific fall height that sounds too good to be true, may have done a grass base test. You should always check with your supplier, and ask for proof of certification for concrete tests, as these will give the most accurate results.

What if the product is part of a system?

Our SmartPlay product is installed as part of a system, with a few different variations available. For products such as our SmartPlay shock pads that are intended to be laid over another layer, the entire system must be tested. This is classed as a composite product and the surface with all its layer(s) must be tested as a whole to BS EN 1177 (2018).

If you have any more questions on grass mats, the grass mat standard, or the SmartPlay system, feel free to leave a comment, or email us at or call us on 01564 742811.

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