Bouncy castles and play inflatables: are they safe?

Static Author Display NameHealth & Safety, Risk Management

Tragically bouncy castles and play inflatables have been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons, with a 3 year old girl fatally injured in an incident involving an inflatable trampoline at Gorelston in Norfolk and two people being jailed following the death of another young girl when a bouncy castle blew away at a park in Harlow, Essex in March 2016.

If you are thinking of operating inflatable play equipment such as a bouncy castle or slide, whether for work or an even, what do you need to know?

All such equipment should only be operated by a competent person who is familiar with the correct safety and operating procedures. The HSE advise that you should ensure equipment has been built to the current British Standard (BS EN 14960), it should have a label saying so, when it was made, how many people can use it and what heights they should be. If there is no label you may be taking a risk with the safety of those using it.

Every inflatable should have at least 6 anchor points, (bigger ones will need more) and all of these should be used with the correct ground stakes or ballast. BS EN 14960 recommends that the maximum windspeed in which inflatable play equipment should be used outdoors is 38 km/h which is Force 5 on the Beaufort Scale (small trees in leaf begin to sway). The best way to measure this is by using an anemometer.

You should, of course, check the equipment before use and follow the instructions on height and number of users provided in the manual or on the label.

Equipment should be operated by a properly trained supervisor who should be able to keep the inflatable running safely and make sure that no one gets hurt

Finally new equipment should receive an “initial test” at the point of manufacture to confirm it complies with BS EN 14960. It should then receive an annual test by a competent person to make sure it is still safe for use. The HSE support testing by PIPA  and ADIPS.

You can find further information at:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/entertainment/fairgrounds/inflatables.htm

https://www.pipa.org.uk/

http://www.adips.co.uk/

Alternatively please feel free to speak to your usual PIB Risk Management contact if you have any questions.