Bouncy Castle Safety

Any one planning an event of any kind, from a company fun day to a birthday party, must consider safety. In addition to the type of children’s entertainment provided by Jolly Good Productionsmost events these days have inflatables too. There is nearly always at least one bouncy castle. Event organisers ( including parents organising parties ) should be aware of the basic safety requirements recommended for inflatable play equipment. In the unlikely event that there is an accident, ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law. A responsible supplier will always comply with the rules and standards described but it’s in your own interests to be able to spot bad practice should it occur for any reason.

The notes below are those issued by the Inflatable Play Manufacurer’s Association and contain all of the relavent information you need.

Safe use and operation of play inflatables, including
bouncy castles
This information sheet has been revised to reflect changes
in the registration requirements for those who inspect play
inflatables. Previously, these devices were to have been
subject to inspection under the Amusement Devices
Inspection Procedures Scheme (ADIPS). However, due to
a delay in reaching agreement on suitable Service Quality
Schedules for the inspection of these devices, it is not
possible for duty holders to comply with the requirements
of ADIPS at this time. Duty holders will still have to comply
with their duties under Sections 2 – 6 of the Health and
Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, as appropriate.
This information sheet is written to provide guidance for
those involved with the design, manufacture, importation,
supply, inspection and safe use of play inflatable devices.
It lists possible hazards and outlines the precautions that
need to be taken to avoid them. It covers inflatables used
for bouncing and other purposes but not those used solely
for protection. It does not cover waterborne inflatables
used in swimming pools or other types not used by the
public for entertainment purposes.
This guidance has been prepared in consultation with the
members of the Fairgrounds Joint Advisory Committee,
the Inflatable Play Manufacturers’ Association, the
Association of Play Industries, the British Inflatable Hirers
Association, the Made Up Textiles Association, the
Association of Inflatables Manufacturers, Operators,
Designers and Suppliers, and other interested parties.
Inflatable devices – Fairground equipment consisting of
air-filled structures designed to allow users to bounce,
slide or climb on them. They are made from flexible fabric,
kept inflated by one or more blowers and rely on air
pressure to maintain their shape .
Controller – The person, organisation or hirer (those who
hire to others) having the overall control, including
responsibility for maintenance, of the inflatable device.
Operator – The person over the age of 18 and appointed
by the controller to be in charge of the operation of the
inflatable at any time when it is intended to be available for
public use.
Attendant – Any person over the age of 16 and appointed
to work under the control and direction of an operator to
assist in the operation of the inflatable device.
Safety critical parts – those parts where there is a real risk
of failure leading to injury.
Recognised hazards
The following hazards have been known to occur:
· instability and blowing away in windy conditions;
· situations caused by loss of pressure as a result of
– failure of the fabric zips and seams;
– failure or loss of power to the blower;
– disconnection of the blower; or
– litter blocking the air intake and/or vents;
· falls from the structure;
· windows tearing or detaching;
· tripping (particularly over anchorages);
· injury to users caused by boisterous behaviour,
overcrowding or not separating larger users from
smaller ones;
· access to dangerous (parts of) machinery (e.g.
inadequately protected, or unguarded, blower
· electrical hazards (e.g. shock or burns);
· inadequate means of escape in case of fire;
· lifting injuries caused by manual handling;
· injury to users caused by wearing inappropriate
clothes and shoes;
· suffocation; and
· entrapment.
Duties of manufacturers
Manufacturers should ensure that they manufacture their
products so that they are, so far as is reasonably
practicable, safe in use. Inflatables should be
manufactured in accordance with good manufacturing
practice, using suitable quality materials and using a
suitable design. Where there are relevant standards,
these should be followed.
Design considerations
The designer or manufacturer needs to make sure that:
· there are no parts of the device or ancillary
equipment accessible to users which will cause
injury if contact is made with them, e.g. sharp
exterior angles or edges;
· there are no significant trapping points between
adjacent surfaces;
· for bouncy castles especially, the outside walls are
high enough, strong enough and attached to the
base to prevent users falling out, bouncing over or
slipping through gaps in normal use or foreseeable
misuse. As a general rule, the height of users
using an inflatable should not exceed the height of
the outside walls when the user stands on the
bouncing surface. Walls of 1.8 m or higher
(measured from the bouncing surface) are
sufficient for users of any height;
· the number and the maximum size of users that
the structure can safely contain at any one time is
specified in the operations manual; and
· the deflation time is sufficient to allow the structure
to be safely evacuated – this can be considerably
lengthened by using a non-return valve or flap
fitted to the blower or by fitting the blow-tube to the
lowest part of the structure, as near as possible to
the ground.
Structures should be provided with an adequate
anchorage and/or ballast system. Any anchorage points
should be suitably protected where appropriate. The size,
number and strength of anchorage points should be
adequate for the structure and take into account likely wind
loading. The designer/manufacturer should carry out
research to determine maximum wind speeds and specify
the type of anchorage for each inflatable device to be
safely used. This information should be kept available.
On any open side the maximum fall-off height should be
no greater than 750 mm. Any hard landing surface,
including grass, should be covered by soft landing material
such as dense gym mats or equivalent material of at least
25 mm thickness but not more than 125 mm, extending for
a distance of at least 1.2 m from the open side. Safety
mats used indoors should be fire-resistant. When it is
necessary to have anchorage points near to an
entrance/exit, they should be connected in such a way as
to minimise the danger of tripping, abrasion or other
B lowers
These should be suitably guarded at inlet and outlet (IP2X
is satisfactory – see BS EN 60529). The inflatable structure
should be designed so that the user cannot contact the
blower unit. This may be achieved by ensuring the length
of any inflation tube is at least 1.2 m when positioned on a
walled side and 2.5 m on any open side. Blowers should
not be sited internally unless they are in a part of the
structure not used for playing and out of possible contact
by the user. The fitting of an auditory or visual alarm to the
blower unit should be considered to alert the operator of
any failure in the fan’s electric (or other) power supply.
Special considerations for totally enclosed structures
In totally enclosed structures the following additional
requirements should be satisfied:
· signs should indicate exits, meeting the
requirements of the Health and Safety (Safety
Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996;
· an independent support system should be
provided for any lighting, emergency lighting and
loudspeaker systems;
· the electrical installation should, as a minimum,
conform with the requirements of BS 7671;
· structures designed to accommodate more than
15 people should have more than one exit so that
the inflatable can be evacuated quickly. Deflation
time should be sufficient to allow the structure to
be safely evacuated;
· emergency lights should be provided as a back up
if a lighting system is installed. The discharge
period for the lighting following supply failure
should be sufficient to allow for the complete
evacuation of the structure. Systems should be
fully charged prior to use of the inflatable. Lighting
should be proved each day before a totally
enclosed inflatable is put into use;
· electrical cables should be kept adequately secured
away from any users or spectators; and
· electrical equipment exposed to the weather
should be protected to BS EN 60529 or be located
inside a weatherproof hut or cabin.
M aterials
Flexible fabrics used in the construction of inflatables need
to be of adequate tear and burst strength and have
sufficient air retention to enable the structure, when
pressurised to the level specified in the operations manual,
to maintain its shape and prevent the structure from
distorting under load. In particular:
· fabrics should be flame-resistant (see ‘Further
reading’) and meet current fire safety standards;
· adhesives should provide a bond of not less than
the equivalent strength to the fabric being bonded;
· threads used for sewing should be strong enough
for the purpose;
· zips should be able to withstand the air pressures
generated in the structure. Where they are used
for emergency exits they need to be reliable, easy
to use and operable from both sides;
· netting should not create additional risks to users;
· where windows or other similar openings are
provided, the materials used, and the method of
attachment to the rest of the structure, shall be of
adequate strength to withstand impact from users;
· toxic decorative finishes must not be used in areas
accessible to users.
Buying and selling inflatable devices
Inflatable devices should not be bought or sold unless the
following documentation is available:
· for devices manufactured after January 5th 2004, a
declaration by the manufacturer that the inflatable
has been manufactured to an appropriate design
and in an appropriate manner (this may be
achieved by a declaration of conformity to an
appropriate European Standard); and
™ an operating manual, which includes: ™ any limits on numbers of users;
™ details of weather conditions in which the
inflatable should not be used;
™ details of how to set up the inflatable;
™ anchorage arrangements;
™ details of any routine maintenance or
inspection required;
™ specification of mats used to protect
entrance and exit points; and
™ appropriate daily checks.
The operating manual can also be a good place to keep
records of maintenance, modifications, daily checks and
annual inspections.
Where a device has been manufactured in Great Britain,
the duty to provide the information referred to earlier falls
to the manufacturer. For a second-hand or hired device,
the duty falls on the supplier. However, in the case of an
imported ride, whether new or second-hand, the duties fall
to the supplier.
The controller of a newly acquired second-hand device
should ensure that the operations manual is present and
complete. The records of maintenance, modifications and
inspections should accompany any second hand device.
Duties of controllers or operators
Owners or operators of devices will need to carry out a risk
assessment of their activities to determine the control
measures to avoid risk or reduce risk to acceptable levels.
This will be relatively easy to do using the manufacturer’s
information and instructions for safe operation. This is a
requirement of the Management of Health and Safety at
Work Regulations 1999.
The operations manual should be made readily available.
This should not mean that it is kept next to the equipment
or that it is written on paper. Computer storage systems
may be acceptable for some information, but only if it can
be accessed easily and a hard copy produced if required.
Inspection, maintenance and modification
The Provision of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
(PUWER) require inflatable devices to be inspected at
suitable intervals to ensure that safe conditions are
maintained, and that any deterioration in the device is
detected and remedial action taken in good time. (See
following paragraphs on annual inspections and daily
Annual inspection
Each inflatable should be thoroughly inspected at least
once in every 12 months. This procedure needs to be
carried out by a competent person. The Annual
inspection needs to include checks of the following:
· previous inspection reports and certificates where
· provision of a blower unit as specified by the
manufacturer, or one that at least provides
sufficient pressure to allow the inflatable to be
used safely, suitably guarded at the air inlet and
· condition of blower impeller and fan casing where
practicable to inspect;
· condition of accessible blower electrical wiring;
· condition of all electrical installations;
· anchorage system for wear, rips or chafing;
· type and number etc of ground anchors or ballast
for conformity with design specification;
· structure for wear or rips in the fabric;
· walls and towers (when fitted) are firm and upright;
· pressure is sufficient in the bouncing area and at
the step/front apron to give a reliable and firm
· internal ties for wear and tear, particularly at loose
or exposed ends;
· bed seams, wall-to-bed seams and wall-to-tower
· identification of the device; and
· if used on a fixed site, the location.
Inspection of some of these features may need to be done
inside the device. The above list is not exhaustive and the
manufacturer may specify additional items. Annual
inspection needs to include any part of the inflatable and
its ancillary equipment that may affect the safe operation
of the device.
D aily checks
Checks should be carried out before the first use on any
day using advice provided by the manufacturer in the
operations manual. These should include checking that:
· the site remains suitable, with crowd control
measures in place if appropriate;
· anchorages are intact, protected where necessary,
and ropes not worn or chafed;
· anchor system secures the inflatable device to the
· there are no significant holes or rips in the fabric or
· the correct blower specified for the device is being
used and the air pressure is sufficient to give a
reliable and firm footing;
· there are no exposed electrical contacts, there is
no wear on electric cables, and plugs, sockets and
switches are not damaged;
· if an internal combustion engine is used, that the
fuel cap is placed firmly on the fuel tank and any
reserve fuel tank is suitable and remains in a safe
· bolts and screws of the blower are properly
secured and that robust guards are secured over
the air inlet and outlet;
· the blower/inflation tube connection is in good
condition and is firmly fixed to the blower; and
· the blower is positioned correctly, adequately
protected or guarded and is not causing a tripping
The public should not use the inflatable until any defects
identified in the daily check have been rectified.
The inflatable needs to be properly maintained – the
instructions contained in the operations manual should be
followed. Where such instructions are not available, the
controller should specify the procedures required, in
conjunction with advice received from a competent person,
the supplier or manufacturer. Details of all maintenance
work on the device should be recorded in the operations
M odification
Safety-critical modifications are those where failure of the
modified component or system would lead to a significant
risk of injury to public or employees. They could include
changes in the operating parameters of a device, such as
changing the height restriction of users. If in doubt, take
advice from a competent person.
Where a safety-critical modification is made (including the
replacement of a component which departs from the
original design specification), the modification needs to be
carefully considered. The conclusions and justifications
should be recorded in the operations manual before the
change is made. If a device is CE marked, alteration may
invalidate the declaration of conformity and the device may
need to be reassessed against the relevant standard.
Safe operation
It is essential for the safe operation of a device that the
manufacturer’s instructions regarding the use of
anchorage points should be followed. The device should
be secured to the ground with ground stakes, where the
ground is suitable. Some equally effective method can be
used on hard standing, e.g. attaching the anchor ropes to
fittings already in the ground, or to sandbags or other
weights, if these are capable of taking the load.
Inflatables can be tied to a vehicle or other movable
machinery, providing the vehicle or machinery is
immobilised and under the control of the operator.
Inflatables should not be used when the wind or gusts are
in excess of the maximum safe wind speed specified by
the manufacturer. The industry recommends a maximum
wind speed of Force 5 on the Beaufort scale of 30-38 kph
(19-24 mph). Force 5 is a fresh breeze when small trees in
leaf begin to sway, whereas Force 6 is a strong breeze
when large branches are in motion, whistling can be heard
in telephone lines and umbrellas can only be handled with
difficulty. Weather forecasts can be obtained from the
Meteorological Office.
The controller or operator should ensure that the inflatable
device is sited well away from possible hazards such as
overhead power lines or other obstacles with hazardous
projections (e.g. fences). If the ground surface is abrasive,
oily or dirty, a ground sheet should be used to prevent
wear and tear of the base material.
The controller should determine the minimum number of
attendants needed to operate the device safely, and
ensure that at least these numbers of attendants are on
duty when the device is in operation. In deciding how
many attendants are required, the controller needs to
consider matters such as the number of people using the
device, the age of the users and the type of environment in
which the inflatable is being used. Attendants should be
aged 16 or over and the operator should be 18 or over.
If the risk assessment carried out by the controller shows
that control measures are required to handle large crowds
in the immediate vicinity of the inflatable, then crowd
control barriers (see Figure 1) should be provided by the
controller. Barriers should have the minimum dimensions
shown at Figure 1. They should be at least 1 m high and
be capable of withstanding people leaning on them, or
being pushed against them. Where the public does not
have access to the sides or back of the inflatable or crowd
pressures are not anticipated, then a lower standard is
Figure 1
The perimeter fence should be 1.8 to 2.5 m from closed sides and 3.5 to
4.0 m from the open side. The gateway should be 1.0 m wide
The method of operation drawn up by the controller should
ensure that users are admitted to the inflatable in a
controlled and safe manner. In particular, the operator and
attendants should carry out the following instructions.
· Ensure that users remove footwear (except socks)
and any other hard, sharp or dangerous objects
(such as buckles, pens, purses, badges etc).
Glasses are best removed;
· Do not allow users to consume food or drink or
chew gum on the device;
· Do not allow users to obstruct the entrance or exit
of any inflatable device. Do not allow anyone to
play on the step or front apron of a bouncy castle;
· Do not allow users to climb or hang on the walls;
· Do not allow users who do not conform to height
restrictions to use the device;
· Keep the entrance/exit areas clear of onlookers so
that the operator or attendant has a clear view and
can ensure that users enter/exit safely;
· Keep users off the device when it is being inflated
or deflated. Deflate the device when not in use.
The operator and attendants should watch the activity on
the inflatable constantly. They should use a whistle or
other signal and take action at the first sign of any
misbehaviour. Somersaults and rough play should not be
It is the operator’s responsibility to ensure that the
equipment is not overloaded with users. Larger, more
boisterous users should be separated from smaller ones.
The number of users at any one time should be limited to
allow each user enough room to play safely.
T raining
The controller should ensure that all operators receive
effective training in the working of the device including:
· the method of operating the device;
· safe methods of assembly/dismantling, where
applicable; and
· how to make a daily check;
The controller should ensure that all operators and
attendants receive effective training in the operation of the
device including:
· safe entry/exit for users;
· safe anchoring of the inflatable;
· crowd control measures, and barriers;
· measures to be taken in the event of power failure;
· procedures for reporting accidents, defects or
Accident reporting
Deal with any casualties first but report the event after the
incident. Reportable accidents which cause injury,
including acts of violence and certain dangerous
occurrences, should be notified to the enforcing authority
by the ‘responsible person’ (who is likely to be either the
controller or operator). Further information is given in the
HSE publication A guide to the Reporting of Injuries,
Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995.
(See ‘Further reading’.)
What to do if defects are found
If at any time a defect is found which could possibly lead to
danger, the public should not be allowed to use the device
until the cause has been identified and remedied. This
may include checking all similar components. If there is
any doubt about continued safety, the device should not
be used until a competent person has confirmed that it is
safe to do so. Keep records of all incidents and significant
defects in the operations manual and the action taken,
because they may be useful if you need to:
· give details to HSE, your trade association,
insurers, the designer, manufacturer, importer or
· discuss the safety implications with a competent
person; or
· provide a detailed accident history to a buyer.
Further reading
Fairgrounds and amusement parks: Guidance on safe
practice HSG175 HSE Books 1997 ISBN 0 7176 1174 4
A guide to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and
Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 L73 (Second
edition) HSE Books 1999 ISBN 0 7176 2431 5
RIDDOR reporting: What the Incident Contact Centre can
do for you! Leaflet MISC310(rev1) HSE Books 2002.
BS EN 60204 -1: 1992 Safety of machinery. Electrical
equipment of machines. Part 1. Specification for general
BS EN 60529: 1992 Specification for degrees of protection
provided by enclosures (IP Code)
BS 7671: 1992 Requirements for electrical installation. IEE
Wiring Regulations (Sixteenth edition)
For further information on fire-resistant materials refer to
BS EN ISO 6940: 1995, BS EN ISO 6941: 1995, and a
new British Standard on play inflatables (in preparation).
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy
of the references listed in this publication, their future
availability cannot be guaranteed.
Further information
British Standards are available from BSI Customer
Services, 389 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4AL Tel:
020 8996 9001 Fax: 020 8996 7001
HSE priced and free publications are available by mail
order from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk
CO10 2WA Tel: 01787 881165 Fax: 01787 313995
Website: (HSE priced publications
are also available from bookshops.)
For information about health and safety ring HSE’s
InfoLine Tel: 08701 545500 Fax: 02920 859260 e-mail:
[email protected] or write to HSE
Information Services, Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly
CF83 3GG. You can also visit HSE’s website:
This leaflet contains notes on good practice which are not compulsory but
which you may find helpful in considering what you need to do.
This publication may be freely reproduced, except for advertising,
endorsement or commercial purposes. The information is current best
practise, to have been published by HSE before the end of 2003, but held
back from publication due to the temporary moratorium on publications
throughout HSE.

These notes are provided in order to assist our customers or anyone else  involved in planning an event.

Jolly Good Productions