ST Impact Analyzer CH and the ASTM F1292

ST Impact Analyzer CH and the ASTM F1292 standard

One of our most commonly asked question is: Does the ST Impact Analyzer CH meet the Test Apparatus requirements in the ASTM F1292 standard specification? The answer is: No, we didn’t design it to. And we believe you will benefit from us not designing to the standard.

ST Impact Analyzer CH is designed to be consistent with the procedural, instrument and surface analysis content intent of the ASTM F1292 standard. We’re determining the HIC and GMax levels but we’re doing so in a different way.

We firmly believe that every playground around the world should have its surface tested for head impact protection. To do that we analyzed ASTM F1292 and found significant areas of concern and took a new technological and logical approach to assessing head impact protection on playgrounds. The ASTM F1292-13 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials Within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment was designed to be the “standard” in which playground surfaces are assessed for impact attenuation, primarily in laboratory applications, to evaluate surfacing.

The following discussion outlines the major areas of the standard and its application where today’s technology and historical perspectives beg for improvement.

It tests with the wrong size head form:

  • The ASTM F1292 standard specification requires the use of an adult male head form
  • Standardized and approved head forms, from other industries concerned with traumatic brain injuries, exist for infants, three year olds, six year olds, 10 year olds, adult women and adult men of various sizes
  • Children play on playgrounds and injury statistics of children on playgrounds are tracked by Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
    • In fact, according to the CDC, 27% of Traumatic Brain Injuries are related to playgrounds for children under 10 years old
    • That figure drops to about 1% for children 10 to 19
  • Why would we want to assess the injury risk levels with an adult head form when it is children that suffer from falls on the playground?
  • The Sonam Solution: Test the surface with the most similar and relevant head form to the age of the playground users who are most likely to sustain head injuries.


The maximum allowable GMax and HIC limits are based on injury risks limits for an adult male:

  • An adult male can take a much more significant hit to the head with a much lower risk of a critical brain injury than a child can
  • The brain of a young child specifically is in a formative stage where the ramifications of a head trauma can affect him/her throughout their lives
  • The current limits in the ASTM F1292-13 standard specification states a playground surface is safe for play if the GMax is below 200G and the HIC is below 1,000
  • An adult male having a fall with a 1,000 HIC hit to the head, has a 17% chance of incurring a severe or critical brain injury, however, a six-year-old child having a fall with a 1,000 HIC hit to the head, has nearly a 50% risk of incurring a severe or critical brain injury
  • The Sonam Solution: Test the surface with the six-year-old head form and assess the injury risk levels of the most vulnerable ages


Test equipment is overly complicated, outdated and costly:

  • There is a standard, accepted calculation to determine HIC measuring gravitational force and time
  • Many reliable, accurate and affordable technologies are available today to harvest and process that data without the lengthy, unnecessary and outdated requirements in the F1292 standard
  • The Sonam Solution: Incorporate modern, accurate, reliable and NIST calibrated components allowing the ST Impact Analyzer CH to be affordable for every playground owner

Kids don’t fall three times in the exact same spot and are only injured by the average of their last two falls:

  • The ASTM F1292 procedure states to drop the test device in the same place three times and average the impact of the last two drops – Ever see a kid fall like that?
  • When testing a surface in a lab, that procedure may help assess the playground surface’s maximum performance
  • Kids don’t play in a lab, they don’t have the option of picking where they are going to fall and they don’t get to ignore their first fall
  • The Sonam Solution: The ST Impact Analyzer CH is a simple one drop impact analyzer that requires virtually no set up time. Drop the ST Impact Analyzer CH one time per spot in multiple locations within the fall zone. Testing multiple spots will provide a better understanding of that surface’s ability to attenuate an impact in the fall zone.

Surface preparation is allowed when field testing:

  • When conducting the ASTM F1292 test in the field, the technician is instructed to prepare the test area including filling, leveling and compacting loose fill surfaces
  • Wouldn’t it be nice if the children did the same thing before they played, or fell, on the playground?
  • The Sonam Solution: Walk up and drop the ST Analyzer CH onto the surface at any time in any condition. Know how it will perform as kids run up to it and play and determine if it is safe for play or if maintenance is required.

The intent of F1292 is good, the main problem is that the underlying technology and physiological assumptions have not kept up with technology and the understanding of risks of play.

Think about your own life and go back just 5 years. How much more technology has been stuffed into your cell phone? You probably wouldn’t go back to your old flip phone now that better models are available.

The Sonam Solution: The new ST Impact Analyzer CH – based on the proven 50th percentile 6-year-old head form, cutting edge technology and extensive field testing.

Drop the Ball

The easy-to-use ST Impact Analyzer is used on playgrounds, sports fields, and anywhere there is a risk of a head impacting the ground, to identify the risk of a brain injury before it happens.

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Sonam Technologies, Inc.
9800 Connecticut Dr
Crown Point, IN 46307

Phone: 844-887-6626
E-Mail: [email protected]