playground climber playground rock climber wallClimbers add an element of risk to playgrounds. Similar to monkey bars, children like to challenge themselves by climbing on apparatuses both on and off the playground. They can use their imagination and socialize while they climb. Jungle gyms have changed in recent years, becoming shorter so children are less likely to injure themselves if they fall. There are also more rules on public or school playgrounds that don’t allow children to use their imagination as much.

Climbers are a beneficial and fun aspect of playgrounds. Children appreciate the creative and risky play that they allow. We have often found hazardous climbers during inspections. It is critical that their fall heights and quality are continuously checked through inspections.

Three dimensional climbing net structures offer a particular challenge to more adventurous players. With flexible components that move as a child plays, they demand more balance and strength, but can also pose the particular risk of falling or entanglement.

The mesh elements of a 3-dimensional climbing net structure cannot have an opening between the flexible components that is taller than six feet or has a diameter larger than 18” for preschoolers or 20” for older children.  Any components that are used for hand gripping need to have a diameter between 0.6 and 1.5”.

Climbing net structures also need to follow the regulations regarding suspended hazards. Continuous maintenance is important in keeping the flexible components in place and in preventing entanglement and strangulation dangers.

Use Zones

Stand alone climbers such as arch climbers, need a six-foot use zone but can overlap with other equipment’s use zones if theirs allows it. Climbers can also be part of composite sets, making their use zone that of the set (also six feet).


The height from the highest part of the climber to the surface determines the Fall Height. This means that the Critical Height must be as tall or taller than the climber. ASTM 8.3.6