Victorian operators of inflatable amusement rides and event organisers hiring them are being urged to review their health and safety obligations after WorkSafe recently found inadequate risk controls at three separate sites.
Published:23 April 2022
Land-borne inflatables such as jumping castles and slides are a popular addition to parties, school fetes, sporting activities, community festivals and other events but can be a serious safety hazard if they are not set up and operated correctly.
In the last week, WorkSafe inspectors issued the operator of one ride with compliance notices over a number of safety issues, including a lack of adequate anchorage and the outdoor use of electric blowers unsuitable for exposure to rain.
Another operator told inspectors they had placed anchor weights beside their inflatable ride without connecting them because it wasn't windy enough, while other inspectors also observed a 4.7 metre high inflatable device set up underneath high tensile power lines.
WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety Narelle Beer said a failure to control the risks associated with inflatable amusement devices could easily lead to tragedy.
"As we've seen in the past when things have gone wrong with inflatable rides, the consequences can be devastating," Dr Beer said.
"There is simply no excuse for putting members of the public at risk and WorkSafe will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action against those operators not meeting their health and safety obligations."
Dr Beer said it was important event organisers hiring inflatables ensured the ride operator was competent, especially with many major amusement operators heading interstate at this time of the year.
"If the operator cannot provide evidence of their competence or maintenance checks, including by showing a logbook and training records, they may not be a suitable choice for your event."
Operators have a duty under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations to identify all hazards associated with the use of inflatable amusement devices and implement control measures to eliminate or reduce any risks.
All Victorian employers, including those organising events, have a duty under the OHS Act to provide a safe workplace for both their own workers and other people, including members of the public.
Anyone with a concern about the safety of an inflatable amusement device should report it to WorkSafe's advisory service on 1800 136 089.
To control risks associated with operating an inflatable device duty holders should:
Ensure land-borne inflatable devices are adequately anchored, even when low winds are forecast or the inflatable device is not operational.
Establish a system of work for regularly monitoring wind speed to ensure that there is sufficient warning and detection of the maximum wind speed. If monitoring indicates that the inflatable's maximum rated wind speed is likely to be exceeded, it should be deflated.
Ensure safe access and egress points are provided. This includes making sure the various components of the inflatable device (such as window mesh or screening) do not cause a hazard as a result of entrapment of clothing or part of a body (eg fingers, hands, feet, head).
Locate electrical blowers which inflate the device in an appropriate position to ensure that they cannot be accessed by members of the public, and are weather protected where required.
Ensure appropriate supervision and monitoring is undertaken by people who have been trained in the safe operation of the device, including when the device is being inflated or deflated.
Carry out post-assembly, daily (before use) and annual checks of inflatable devices to ensure that any risk associated with their use is monitored and controlled, including inspections for wear and tear in the fabric.