Inflatables are a popular attraction at summer fairs,
but with safety in mind, we asked Andrew Chalk of PIPA what exactly
PTAs should be looking out for.
We would like to hire inflatables for our fair, but how can we
be sure that the equipment is compliant with legal
Under UK health and safety regulations, all inflatable play
equipment must be inspected annually, preferably by an experienced
or technically qualified person. If you are unsure who to ask,
PIPA-registered inspectors are qualified to test inflatables to the
required standard. All inflatable equipment that meets the standard
will have a blue numbered tag affixed, an annual certificate and a
test logged on the national database for inflatable play equipment.
Equipment not covered or tested by PIPA should still have its own
certificate provided by the tester. Whenever hiring inflatables,
check that the equipment is safe by asking the supplier in advance
for its PIPA tag number. This can then be checked on the PIPA
website at pipa.org.uk.
What supervision is required for inflatables?
Inflatables must not be used without supervision. Your
hirer will be able to advise you on the number of supervisors
required based upon the maximum height and number of users, and
this must be marked on the inflatable. The hirer should also give
you guidelines that include appropriate behaviour of children,
removing loose or sharp articles of clothing, operating a rota
What should we think about when planning where to position the
Your hirer will be able to advise you on the suitability of the
venue and whether or not they can securely fix the inflatable to
the ground with ground stakes. If the inflatable is on a
hardstanding surface, it must either be secured by attaching all
the anchorage points to fittings already in the ground or to
sandbags or other weights with the equivalent of 163kgs per anchor
point. Inflatables may be secured to a vehicle or other movable
machinery that has been immobilised, and under control of the
operator of the inflatable. The inflatable should be sited well
away from possible hazards such as overhead power lines or other
obstacles, should not be erected on a site with more than a 5%
slope in any direction, and the site should be cleared of all
debris or sharp objects. The hirer will be able to provide you with
advice on what to do in the event of wet and windy weather.
We have hired a bouncy castle, but if it rains on the day can
we use it indoors and if so, what should we consider?
An anchorage or ballast system should be used where necessary to
maintain stability. Your hirer will be able to advise you
accordingly. You need to arrange safety matting around any
entrances/exits of the inflatable.
We're hiring inflatables for the first time. What questions
should we ask the supplier?
Ask if they conform to the PIPA scheme and request the PIPA tag
number; ask whether you can see the PIPA test certificate; if they
have carried out daily checks on the equipment; when the equipment
was last fully-inspected; if you will receive full instructions on
its safe operation; whether it will still fit on your site if the
blower unit is set at 1.2 metres; and if the equipment is clearly
marked with limitations of use. Ask for a copy of their public
liability insurance. Don't be afraid to ask these questions - do
not compromise when it comes to safety.
Our PTA has bought some inflatable equipment. What kind of
maintenance requirements do we need to think about and how often
should these be carried out?
You should routinely inspect the inflatable before each use.
Checks should include:
- That the site is suitable
- All anchorages are secure and in place
- Ancillary equipment is in position (e.g. impact-absorbing
- There are no significant holes in the fabric or seams
- The correct blower is being used
- Internal air pressure is sufficient to give a firm and reliable
- There are no exposed electrical parts and no wear on
- Plugs, sockets, switches, etc. are not damaged
- The connection tube and blower are firmly attached to each
- The blower is safely positioned and its mesh guards are
The equipment should not be used until any defects identified in
the routine inspection have been rectified. In addition the
following maintenance should be carried out to maintain levels of
safety and performance: cleaning the inflatable; removal of debris
and contaminants; rust control on the blower; and cleaning the
blower air intake. An inspector competent to test the European
Standard must inspect the inflatable annually. We strongly
recommend that the unit be issued with a PIPA tag and certificate
on the basis of this inspection.
PIPA are the UK"s inflatable play accreditation body. For more
information on using inflatables, visit pipa.org.uk.
inflatables and rides suppliers in our online directory.
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