bouncy castle
If you’re a hot air balloon enthusiast, then please stop reading now! I promise I make no further reference to Branson’s record attempts or Newtons 3rd Law!
Bouncy castles are a common sight at any four-year-olds birthday party, village carnival and on holiday parks.  I remember trying to explain to someone within the industry that they can be dangerous if improperly managed and they likened my comments to banning kids from playing conkers in the playground; gosh that did some damage to the credibility of our industry didn’t it?!
A simple google search will demonstrate how many serious accidents occur from bouncy castles in high winds, which makes it so saddening to read that another tragic incident in Essex led to the death of a seven-year-old in 2016.  I’ve included a link below which tracks the court proceedings where the operators were jailed in May 2018 for Gross Negligence Manslaughter.
There are some factors to consider when hiring a bouncy castle such as insurances, the credibility of the hire company, who is managing the equipment and whether the participants are wearing stilettos but by far the most important is how the risk from mother nature is controlled.
A particularly comprehensive list of steps include:
  • Check weather forecasts
  • Anchor the equipment down with ropes, etc
  • Measure the wind speed on the day
  • And…well that’s it!
Specific details are available from the British Inflatables Hirers Alliance at: http://www.biha.org.uk/code-of-ethics/
The only correction I would make to the BIHA guidance is that they price an Anemometer* at £30 whereas I can find a suitable model on Amazon for less than £10.
*Anemometer – a device used by sailors, snipers and bouncy castle operators for measuring wind speed. Generally seen as more accurate than psychic premonition or chucking a pinch of grass in the air.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 will apply to chemicals used in swimming pools and hot tubs, maintenance and housekeeping/cleaning departments.  It can often cause confusion with some choosing to risk assess everything and some nothing! Applying a few basic principles could save you significant time and money.
My top hints for managing COSHH:
  1. Material Safety Data Sheets or MSDS come with each chemical and can be downloaded from the internet or requested from the manufacturer/distributor. These documents should be kept up to date as, although the chemical may not change, the exposure limits/advice might. A simple way to save time is to procure chemicals from one supplier who will often provide a file or CD which is regularly updated.
  2. COSHH risk assessments must be completed for all significant risks, too often RAs are completed for Fairy liquid and Dulux standard white emulsion. We must draw the line somewhere; concentrate on the significant risks.
  3. The risk assessment should focus on the process, like how and where the chemical is handled and what it’s mixed with. There’s little point in simply copying the basic information from the MSDS.
  4. PPE is a common recommendation however, we must apply a dose of common sense. Would you consider goggles whilst using a can of Pledge furniture polish? If not, then don’t put it on the RA.  Yes, some chemicals are labelled as an irritant but then again so is soap…and you wouldn’t wear goggles in the shower! (I must credit SHP for that line).
To summarise, concentrate on the significant risks, where there is a foreseeable risk of harm.  This will reduce the amount of needless paperwork and should create some more buy in from staff who will otherwise see the process a bureaucratic.
Based in Somerset, PDT Safety specialise in health and safety consultancy for the hospitality and leisure industry.  Our common-sense approach will create a safe environment for your customers and employees without the pointless bureaucracy!
Get in touch today for a free consultation.