The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revised health and safety guidelines for people operating inflatable play equipment, such as bouncy castles.
The new guidelines follow a tragic incident in Norfolk last year, when a 3-year-old child was fatally injured after being thrown from an ‘exploding’ bouncy castle in Gorleston-on-Sea. Separately, 10 children were also injured and taken to hospital following an incident on an inflatable slide in Woking.
Two fairground workers were also jailed last June for the “entirely preventable” death of a 7-year-old girl who was blown away in a bouncy castle that they failed to properly secure in Harlow, Essex.
The new guidelines apply to all commercial operators, defined as people who are charging for a public event where inflatables are in use.
The HSE has outlined some simple precautions to help people avoid serious incidents and advises that anyone buying or hiring an inflatable – whether for private or public use – should ensure that it has either a numbered PIPA tag or an ADiPs declaration of compliance (DoC).
All inflatables should also have written documentation from a competent inspection body to show they comply with British Standard BS EN 14960 and should come with instruction on how to operate them safely.
The HSE outlines the safety checks that should be carried out before anyone uses the inflatable and measures to take to ensure its safe use and supervision.
Some local authorities, such as Highland Council in Scotland, are urging those hiring inflatables for private events to also adhere to the new safety guidelines, as well as commercial operators.
A senior environmental health officer from Highland Council, Gregor MacCormick, said: “Recent tragic incidents involving such equipment highlights the significant risks that can arise where operators do not effectively manage their use.
“It is essential that operators consider all aspects of the revised HSE guidance when planning and organising activities where inflatable devices are in use, and follow the equipment’s operating instructions.”
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Their diverse portfolio includes training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, health and social care and other special focus topics.
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A trainer from FRT says: “There should be no reason that inflatable play equipment, such as bouncy castles, cannot continue to be used at public and private events for children’s enjoyment, as long as operators take heed of the new guidance and ensure they are implementing all necessary control measures and providing adequate supervision during use.
“No one wants a repeat of previous tragic incidents involving these inflatables and so the revised health and safety guidelines make sense and are warmly welcomed.”
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