A safety warning has been issued over bouncy castles and inflatables by Darlington Borough Council’s environmental health officers.

As summer approaches, health and safety law requires that all bouncy castle equipment being used by members of the public is tested regularly by a competent person.

Anyone looking to hire a bouncy castle should ask to see the proof of annual inspection for the equipment.

There are two main organisations involved in testing bouncy castles, RPII (Register of Play Inspectors International) this organisation accredits inspectors and provides training; PIPA (Professional Inflatable Play Association) oversees the actual inspection scheme and provides a UK database of bouncy castles that are tested via a tagged number.

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Every bouncy castle should contain a unique number showing it meets a recognised standard, the number tagged on the equipment is stored on the PIPA database where the results of its initial test and annual tests are recorded (www.pipa.org.uk/) 

In addition to the safety checks the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states the equipment should come with operating instructions which should include the number of people allowed at any one time as well as height limits. More details are on their website at www.hse.gov.uk/entertainment/fairgrounds/inflatables.htm

Stephen Todd, Darlington Borough Council’s Environmental Health Manager (Commercial), said: “Bouncy castles are good fun and can really add to the party atmosphere of any event. However, they can be dangerous if not used properly or if they are poorly maintained.

“We want people to have fun, but we don’t want them to end up in hospital with potentially life changing injuries or party and event organisers being sued because they didn’t carry out the necessary checks. It’s a simple process to double check and any reputable bouncy castle business should be happy to help provide the required paperwork.

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“In addition, we urge any bouncy castle/inflatable hire company to make sure they comply with the regulations and provide adequate guidance to their customers.”

The environmental health team can be contacted via email at environmentalhealth@darlington.gov.uk or by phone: 405111