In this blog, we will be talking about the inflatables that we use on our It's A knockout events. However, as we sometimes get asked about inflatables and safety in general, this will also touch on a few points for anyone hiring bouncy castles or obstacles and would like a brief explanation of the "Laws" (or official guidance) etc relating to inflatables in general.
At events, it can be likened to that of the appearance of an iceberg. With the top visible part it is all about the fun-fun-fun of the day, and whilst that is all that a lot of people see, underneath we are busy looking after everyone's safety at our events (including the spectators and general public present). From the initial planning stages of our Its A Knockout games, through to the designing of the inflatable obstacles, and to how they are ran on the day, safety is of paramount priority.
Inflatable Obstacles & the "Law"
Our It's A Knockout inflatables are made in the UK to a standard called BS EN 14960. This 54 page EN Standard sets out how inflatable play equipment should be made. It includes details of the materials to be used, the step up and down height for getting on and off them, potential falling off heights, a calculation for the number of anchor points to be included and a lot more such as wind speeds (which I'll come to later), the angle at which the pegs or stakes to tie down should be hammered in at, plus the size of the stakes and the roping off a safety area around them.
Before any inflatable is open to the public for the first time it should be subject to inspections and checks to confirm its design and manufacture comply with the requirements of the BS EN 14960 standard.
For operators and hirers, there is also a useful seven page guide called the Safe Use & Operation Of Inflatable Play Equipment, Including Bouncy Castles. It can be found at the National Association of Inflatable Hirers website. This guide was originally of HSE - Health & Safety Executive - origin and is still considered good guidance for the operators of inflatables.
Therefore, with the above in place, clients have peace of mind that the inflatables we use on our Its A knockout's have been made properly. The HSE also stipulates that all inflatables should be tested annually, see the HSE website for details. This, it says, should be carried out by a competent person. To satisfy that we have fulfilled our duty to this, our inflatables are ADIPS tested, the Amusement Device Inspection Procedures Scheme. This is one of only two schemes recognized by HSE, the other being PIPA.
Our clients can go to the ADIPS website and "Check a DOC" - Declaration of Operational Compliance - to see if an inflatable has a valid test and can also see an image of the inflatable being checked against. The annual test checks for, amongst other things, deterioration of the inflatable, the stitching of the panels, air loss (so it holds its "bounciness"), and the integrity of the anchor points.
Likewise, for bouncy castles registered with PIPA, a PIPA tag (or test) can be checked on their website. This is a reassuring process for clients and event organisers to able to independently check that a document hasn't been fraudulently concocted.
The EN Standard calls the area where safety mats (or sometimes called "Crash mats") should be placed around an inflatable as an impact area. These are primarily identified as, but not exclusive to, intended entry and exit points. Our games are designed to predict a manner of participation from the Its A Knockout teams. This helps us to effectively risk manage the games. Entry and exit points of our inflatable obstacles have safety mats placed by them. The EN standard states that at least a 1 inch mat be used, we use 1.5 inch ones for extra care. The inflatable manufacturer or inflatable tester may specifically advise the position of where mats should be placed. This would then be referred to in a Risk Assessment.
People ask us whether the rain affects our It's A Knockout days. Well no, not really, instead of us having to keep a slide wet for an It's A Knockout game so people can slide down it, Mother Nature is doing it for us. However, wind is a problem. Inflatables made under the EN standard are safe up to Beaufort Scale 6 (which is 25 to 30 miles per hour). This is defined as "Large branches in motion. Whistling heard in telegraph wires. Umbrellas difficult to use". At this point (25 mph) the use of all inflatables must stop.
We have wind meters on each set of games that we use to measure speeds. Our newest ones emit an alarm sound when the speed reaches 25 mph. At the beginning of each event, we point the wind-meter out to everyone present and explain its purpose. We also check the predicted wind speed online at the start of the day to see if wind will be a consideration.
Further advice and reading can be found on our About Us page.
Event orgainsiers should also refer to the HSE website for Running an event safely.
Our clients can log-in to the Client Part of our website and view our Risk Assessments, Safety Certificates, Health & Safety Policy and Staff Training.
It's A Knockout
An It's A Knockout from Knockout Challenge Limited is a great spectacle attraction for events. Our games are fun and exciting and will make you event shine for the right reasons. Great for town & village shows, charity fundraising events, family days, festivals, corporate entertainment and team building. Please visit our Packages Page for details of the different sets of games we offer.