In September 2017 a child sustained serious injuries when a jumping castle became airborne. The child was playing on the inflatable amusement device when a sudden strong gust of wind lifted the front of it up whilst secured at the back to a fence. The child fell from the device to the ground.
Although the investigation has not yet been finalised, initial inquiries indicate that the jumping castle, which was setup on a hard surface netball court, was only securely anchored on one side.
Preventing a similar incident
Death or serious injury has occurred to patrons when inflatable amusement devices have not been adequately secured to the ground and have become airborne during wind gusts.
A person with management or control (PWMC) of these devices must ensure:
- adequate information is available to enable safe set-up and use of it
- it is set up and used in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications
- the anchorage system is designed to prevent the device becoming airborne. The anchorage system should be considered in its entirety (i.e. ground conditions, stake, rope, rope angle, connections, attachment to inflatable and, number and placement of the anchorages)
- sufficient ground area is available to secure it as the required angle for tie-down ropes/straps can vary
- all anchors provided with the device are installed and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
- the stakes or anchors used are fit for purpose
- where the inflatable is set-up on hard or paved surfaces and is not secured with ground anchor stakes, the anchorage system should be designed to withstand the same forces as though it was secured with ground anchor stakes
- workers are trained and competent to safely setup the device
- weather conditions are continuously monitored and if the wind speed approaches the maximum allowed by the manufacturer then the ride should be evacuated and deflated immediately.
The PWMC must also ensure that the device is maintained and routinely inspected as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Inflatable amusement devices should be inspected regularly:
- for wear or rips in the fabric and seams
- to ensure the integrity of anchor points and anchorage system for the device.
In the last five years, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) has been notified of 12 incidents involving inflatable amusement devices, 10 of which resulted in serious injury requiring hospitalisation or treatment. Types of injuries sustained include broken legs, lacerations, dislocations, twisted ankles and backs, and electric shock.
Since April 2012 WHSQ has issued seven statutory notices (four improvement notices and three prohibition notices) relating to inflatable amusement devices.
Prosecutions and compliance
WHSQ is currently prosecuting another company over an incident that occurred in 2016. A three year old child was exposed to the risk of serious injury when a jumping castle became airborne during a strong gust of wind. The child fell to the ground while the inflatable device was in the air.
AS 3533.4.1:2005 Amusement rides and devices: Specific requirements – Land-borne inflatables devices
SafeWork Australia – Workplace amusement devices guidance material
SafeWork Australia – Information sheet for inflatable devices
Managing risks of plant in the workplace Code of Practice 2013 (PDF, 1.1 MB)
How to manage work health and safety risks Code of Practice 2011 (PDF, 1.0 MB)
WHS Regulators’ National Audit Tool for Amusement Devices (PDF, 474 kB)
This article was published in www.worksafe.qld.gov.au.