Inflatable Jumping Castles

  • Document Type: Guidance Note
    Keycode: Web only
    Category: Public Safety, 
    Division Author: Public Safety, Programs and Projects Division
    Current Version: 1
    Publication Date: 27 March 2008
    Date First Published: 27 March 2008

Incidents

A young girl died and 15 others were seriously injured when an inflatable jumping castle was hit and lifted by a strong wind gust in South Australia during a country race meeting in 2001. A number of other incidents around the country have occurred where young children have been injured partaking in activities involving inflatable jumping castles

December 2005, a two and a half year-old boy suffered a partial amputation of the tip of his third finger when he placed his hand into the exposed area of an electrically powered fan used to inflate a jumping castle. The amusement device had been set up for a Christmas party and left by the operators with no supervision procedures in place.

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to emphasise to all owners and operators of commercial recreational inflatable jumping castles of the need to adequately secure such structures and ensure that all mechanical and electrical components are properly guarded and protected. Supervision must also be a paramount consideration when these devices are in use.

Background

Inflatable jumping castles and other like devices can either be classified as ones used for commercial purposes or ones that are purchased at department stores for home use. They are not deemed to be "prescribed equipment" for the purposes of the Equipment Public Safety Act 1994 and therefore are not subject to specific laws governing their usage and operation.

Australian Standard 3533.4.1- 2005 "Amusement Rides and Devices, Part 4.1 Specific requirements Land Borne inflatable devices" sets out requirements and guidance for the design, manufacture, operation and maintenance of land-borne inflatable amusement devices (such as jumping castles) that are static when in use. This standard covers those types of devices that are used commercially as part of an entertainment or leisure activity business.

It should be noted that this standard is not applicable to inflatable toys that can be readily purchased at department stores. These devices however can be purchased by commercial operators and used for business purposes and hired out to the general public.

WorkSafe's view is that regardless of category, all risk control measures advised in the Australian Standard should be considered and applied during the operation of all land-borne inflatable amusement devices such as jumping castles. This view applies to those described as "toys" also.

WorkSafe's expectations

The biggest risk involving inflatable devices, based on previous incidents, is their tendency to become airborne during strong wind gusts. The Australian Standard prescribes detailed anchorage methods, amongst other control measures, in order to make the use of these devices as safe as reasonably practicable.

All inflatable devices must be able to withstand wind speeds of up to 40 km/h and must be evacuated when the wind speed goes beyond what is safely recommended by the manufacturer.

Operators must ensure that the appropriate anchorage methods are applied and that these are consistent with guidelines set out in the Australian Standard.

The standards require operators to consider the following:

  • the number of anchorage points used and the forces they are able to sustain,
  • no sharp or hard objects should be able to come in contact with children,
  • material must meet flammability requirements,
  • new design requirements to avoid built-in entrapment points where fingers, legs, arms or heads can become caught,
  • strict supervision requirements including monitoring the size and number of children on the device,
  • requirements for appropriate impact absorbing materials at all exits, entrances and open sides.

Supervision

Inflatable jumping castles, while operating, shall be under the supervision of a person at least 18 years of age, who is fully trained in all aspects of its safe operation. As well as monitoring the holding down requirements and weather conditions, this person shall ensure that an appropriate mix of persons use the device and that children are not in danger of injury from adults using the device at the same time. This person should also ensure that children and others do not interfere with the electrical or otherwise powered components of the device.

Acts and Regulations

Sections 21, 23 and 24 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 stipulates the employers' duty to ensure that no persons are exposed to any risk that can affect their health and safety. The Act and all associated regulations are available from Information Victoria 133 366 356 or online at www.bookshop.vic.gov.au

Standards Australia

Copies of standards can be obtained by contacting Standards Australia on 1300 654 646 or online at www.standards.com.au.