Two fairground workers from Cambridgeshire have recently been convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence following the tragic death of a seven-year-old girl who died when an inflatable bouncy castle blew away whilst she was playing inside it.
The jury concluded that the couple had failed to ensure that the bouncy castle was sufficiently anchored to the ground, whilst also failing to monitor the weather or gauge wind speeds on the day of the incident.
This very sad case once again highlights the importance of risk management and the compelling need to ensure that health and safety is always a top priority at any event.
For those in the leisure and hospitality sector, it is imperative that rigorous measures are taken to ensure the safety of clients at all times. It is an unfortunate fact that negligence could result in serious injury or death, harsh convictions and severe penalties or prison sentences.
According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), there are several precautions you should take if you are an inflatable controller or user. A few basic measures can make all the difference to an event:
- If you are buying an inflatable for work or renting one for an event, ensure it has been manufactured to the current British Standard (BS EN 14960) and if it has, there will be a label on it saying so. If there is no label you may be taking a risk with the safety of those using it.
- Every inflatable should have at least 6 anchor points, though bigger ones will need more. The operator manual supplied with the inflatable will tell you how many there should be. BS EN 14960 also provides more information regarding the calculations to be used to work out anchor point requirements.
Before the inflatable is used, you should also check that:
- The site is suitable
- All anchorages are secure and in place
- Ancillary equipment is in position – such as impact-absorbing mats
- There are no significant holes or rips in the fabric or seams
- The correct blower is being used and has been regularly tested
- The internal air pressure is sufficient to give a firm and reliable footing
- There are no exposed electrical parts and no wear on cables
- Plugs, sockets, switches, etc. are not damaged
- The connection tube and blower are firmly attached to each other
According to the HSE, if you are using the inflatable outside, always be aware of the weather conditions. BS EN 14960 recommends that the maximum windspeed in which inflatable play equipment should be used outdoors is 38 km/h, which is Force 5 on the Beaufort Scale. The best way to measure this is by using an anemometer.
Finally, make sure that the inflatable is operated safely on the day of the event. Remember that the majority of injuries and serious incidents come from misuse. The safety of your guests or clients at any event is of course imperative.