Bouncy Castles and Inflatable Play Equipment Guidance for safe use
These are a fun item to include in activity days but require some special consideration about the potential from serious accidents if not properly set up and supervised. This guidance from RoSPA will help your planning.
(Published May 2021, replacing June 2019)
Many events organised and attended by members of The Scout Association have bouncy castles and inflatable play equipment (Inflatable) on site. This guidance aims to help those responsible consider the best options for a safe event and assess potential dangers before allowing their young people, adults or others to use the Inflatable.
Hiring a safe Inflatable for use at Scouting or public events
The most likely way of sourcing an Inflatable is through a hire company. Remember that the organisers of the event may still be responsible for the actions of the Contractor so it is important to make sure that they have suitably considered any safety controls that need to be in place.
They should provide you with risk assessments and method statements/ operating procedures to demonstrate this. Additionally, they should have suitable and sufficient Public Liability Insurance in place and up to date.
You should also be looking for confirmation that they have had inspections of their inflatable by either Amusement Device Industry Procedures Scheme (ADIPS) or PIPA (inspection scheme for inflatable play equipment). They carry out independent inspection regimes using standards recognised as best practice by the HSE.
We have additional guidance about Managing Contractors Working On Scout Premises.
Risk assessment considerations
The HSE has more detailed guidance on safe set up and operation to help you run your event safely.
There is additional HSE guidance on safe supply, inspection and operation which give more detail about the requirements to those supplying the equipment and the inspection regimes that need to be in place where they are sealed inflatables.
Before deciding which firm to hire the Inflatable from, their detailed risk assessment should include information relating to the following, which will help you with your own Risk Assessment:
Operating a safe Inflatable for use at Scouting or public events
Before use begins take a moment to assess and review potential risks. This is especially important if you are operating the Inflatable yourselves.
Don’t forget to appoint a leader in charge for your event.
Their role is to take an overview of the event to check that all agreed safety controls remain in place and are monitored throughout for conditions or circumstances which may change their effectiveness. They must communicate the hazards and controls to all those needing to know.
ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) recommends that you ask yourself the following questions as part of your Risk Assessment, in addition to the points already highlighted above:
- Is the Inflatable securely anchored? All anchorage points should be used and if situated on hard ground mooring straps should be affixed to solid points.
- Are impact-absorbing mats positioned at the open side of the Inflatable extending a suitable distance forward to ensure sufficient protection? If the Inflatable is on soft ground (e.g.: sand) it may not be necessary to use mats.
- Does the Inflatable seem overcrowded? There should be a sign displaying the maximum number of children allowed on the bouncy castle at any one time.
- Are users instructed to remove sharp articles of clothing such as shoes, buckles and jewellery?
- Are the rules being enforced?
- Is there evidence that the attendant is monitoring and controlling the users? Horseplay should not be allowed, and users should not climb on the walls of the inflatable. Occasional monitoring should check this.