Yutree Insurance

Safety of bouncy castles and other hired inflatable play equipment

Jul 2, 2012

This is a short guide intended to help children, big and small, safely enjoy using inflatable play equipment, e.g. bouncy castles. There are risks and there is the potential for injuries. Whilst most of these are minor, some are serious, and can in rare instances lead to permanent disability.

The majority of injuries are caused by children bouncing off the inflatable onto the ground, being hit by others or falling awkwardly. Many of these incidents can be avoided by effective adult supervision.

These notes are intended to give some guidance to those hiring inflatable bouncy castles as part of a public event or a private function.

Hazards

The main things to consider are:

• How to securely anchored the bouncy castle. All anchorage points should be used and if situated on hard ground, mooring straps should be affixed to solid points

Impact absorbing mats should be positioned at the open side of the bouncy castle, extending a sufficient distance forward to ensure sufficient protection. • At least one person should be constantly supervising the children on the bouncy castle. An attendant who is collecting money cannot also supervise the activity

• The bouncy castle should never be allowed to become overcrowded. If children are constantly knocking into each other, the attendant may not be following the maximum load recommendations.

• Children of different ages/sizes should not be mixed. There should be a rota operated to avoid larger children crushing smaller ones.

• Children should be instructed to remove sharp articles of clothing like shoes, buckles and jewellery and the rule enforced by the supervisor.

• Horseplay should not be allowed, and children should not climb on the walls of the bouncy castle

Thinking of hiring or using your own bouncy castle?

Before deciding which firm to hire a bouncy castle from, ask them for detailed guidelines which should include information relating to the following:

• The selection of an appropriate site for the castle, plus additional measures such as cushioning hard ground at the open side. • How to perform an inspection of the castle

• Inflation and mooring of the castle; stakes should be at least a foot long. NEVER hire one without means of anchorage if the inflatable is for outdoor use

• Recommended maximum number of children that can be safely accommodated on the castle at any one time. This will be influenced by the age and size of the children who are to use the inflatable

• Advice on the use of additional equipment such as perimeter barriers

• What to do in the event of wet or windy weather

• Proposed supervision arrangements

• Appropriate behaviour of children (Children should not climb on walls, attempt acrobatics, e.g. somersaults, or take food or drink onto the inflatable)

• How to protect children and others from electrical equipment

Guidance on Hiring

The equipment should be hired from reputable hire companies preferably a member of a trade association such as:

• Association of Inflatable Manufacturers, Operators, Designers and Suppliers (AIMODS)

• National Association of Inflatable Hirers (NAIH)

• British Inflatable Hire Association (BIHA)

Wherever possible the hire company’s staff should be responsible for:

• setting up and dismantling

• operation and supervision

This is particularly recommended if substantial numbers of children are likely to be present.

Before hiring a bouncy castle you should ensure that the hire company:

• complies with the HSE’s Entertainment Information Sheet No7 “The Safe Operation and Use of Play Inflatables including Bouncy Castles”

• has their inflatables inspected annually by an independent competent person e.g. a member of PIPA Inflatable Play Accreditation Scheme or Amusement Device Inspection Procedures Scheme (ADIPS)

• employs suitably experienced and trained adult personnel, where the company is setting up and dismantling, operating and/or supervising of the equipment

• provides written evidence to hirers of a current public liability insurance policy with a limit of indemnity of at least £2million

• specifies the maximum height or age limit for users of the equipment being provided

• can ensure the electrical safety of the equipment on site

If you operate and supervise the bouncy castle’s use, in addition to the above you should:

follow the written instructions about the safe setting up, operation and supervision necessary for the safe use of the equipment given by the hire company

• advise those who will be supervising the use of the castle of the safety instructions and provide them with a copy

• you should carry out and document a risk assessment that identifies the significant risks and details the steps being taken to eliminate or minimise them

• details of the system for summoning first aid in the event of an accident

Further Information Can be found at the following websites: HSE:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/entertainment/index.htm RoSPA:

http://www.rospa.com/waterandleisuresafety/bouncy_castles.htm PIPA:

http://www.pipa.org.uk ADIPS: http://www.adips.co.uk AIMODS:

http://www.performancetextiles.org.uk/Inflatable-play-equipment.aspx NAIH:

http://www.naih.org.uk

The information set out in this document constitutes a set of general guidelines and should not be construed or relied upon as specialist advice. Yutree does not guarantee that all hazards and exposures relating to the subject matter of this document are covered. Therefore Yutree accepts no responsibility towards any person relying upon these Risk Management Guidelines nor accepts any liability whatsoever for the accuracy of data supplied by another party or the consequences of reliance upon it.

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