04 June 2019
If you hire inflatable play equipment, including bouncy castles, you must make sure it is safe for others to use.
You will have specific legal responsibilities to do this, especially if you are an employer or in control of non-domestic premises. This may be under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and – more generally – the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
For example, if you are an employer you may need to:
- complete risk assessments to identify the precautions you need to take
- implement those precautions, providing information and training for any employees and volunteers on what they need to do
- document your arrangements and responsibilities for hosting events
- keep records of what you have done.
Tips for hiring a bouncy castle
When hiring inflatable play equipment, make sure you do so from a reputable company. Here are some tips to help keep bouncy castle activities safe:
- Ensure the hire company have at least £2,000,000 public liability insurance - you can check this by asking to see their insurance certificate.
- Where possible, arrange for the company to set up the equipment for you. If you are planning to do this yourself, follow the operating instructions carefully.
- Have the company operate its use for you. Otherwise, make sure you are given comprehensive instructions on how to use the equipment properly (including any checks that need to be made).
- If you are setting up the bouncy castle, pay particular attention to the requirements for siting and anchorage. The operating manual will detail what is required.
- When inflated, make sure that its use is always supervised by an adequate number of competent attendants, following any operating instructions that have been provided.
- During operation, make sure that the inflatable is regularly checked and that arrangements are in place to rectify any defect found, or to ensure safety until this can be done.
Essential safety checks
- Check that the inflatable has written documentation from a competent inspection body to show it complies with the current British Standard (BS EN 14960).
- Make sure that the inflatable has been tested by a competent person (usually those registered with PIPA1 or ADiPS2). If it has, it will have either a numbered PIPA tag or an ADiPs declaration of compliance (DoC). You can check that safety tests have been carried out and what to do if the equipment has no tag or DoC on the relevant websites3.
- Check that all other associated equipment is safe, including any blower provided.
- Complete any pre-use checks necessary including any signs of over-tension or sagging; the anchor points are in place; the connection tube and blower are firmly attached to each other; impact-absorbing mats are in position; there are no holes or rips in the fabric or seams etc.
Usually, no inflatable should be used in winds above 24 mph (38kmph - force five on the Beaufort Scale) although some inflatables may have a lower maximum wind speed for safe operation. When using the inflatable outside, you must use an anemometer to regularly check the wind speed. If you don’t have one, then the inflatable should not be used.
1 PIPA – PIPA Inflatable Play Inspection
2 ADIPS – Amusement Devices Inspection Procedures Scheme
3 PIPA/ADiPs websites – www.pipa.org.uk/ or adips.co.uk/