Inflatable land-based devices at events

Jumping castles or inflatable land-borne devices are a popular addition to parties, school fetes and community festivals.

If operated correctly, inflatable devices can be a safe and enjoyable activity.

However, there have been several serious incidents recently reported in Australia and overseas, that highlight the potential risks to users when this type of amusement device is operated incorrectly.

For example:

  • A young girl died and 15 others were seriously injured when an inflatable jumping castle was hit and lifted by a strong wind gust in South Australia during a country race meeting in 2001. A number of other incidents around the country have occurred where young children have been injured partaking in activities involving inflatable jumping castles.

  • In December 2005, a two and a half year-old boy suffered a partial amputation of the tip of his third finger when he placed his hand into the exposed area of an electrically powered fan used to inflate a jumping castle. The amusement device had been set up for a Christmas party and left by the operators with no supervision procedures in place.

A specific standard has been developed for land borne inflatable devices AS/NZS 3533.4.1: 2005. The standard also provides operators with guidance on how inflatable structures should be maintained and operated.

Throughout the period of hire, routine inspections should be carried out and recorded by a competent person (+18 years) to ensure that the device continues to be suitable for use. Such inspections should include checks of anchors and ropes, that the fabric of the device does not contain any holes or tears, that the air pressure is sufficient for the walls of the device to remain firm and upright etc.

Please refer to AS/NZS 3533.4.1 for further details.

During the period of hire, a competent person should ensure that any maintenance required, as determined through routine inspections, is performed e.g. removal of debris, securing of anchors and ropes etc. This information should also be recorded.

Responsibilities of the operators

The Standard also provides advice and guidance in relation to the design, manufacture, operation and maintenance of commercial jumping castles. Work Safe Victoria recommends that the Australian Standard be applied to all inflatable land-borne amusement devices.

Operators should ensure that before the amusement device is used, they have all necessary information and instructions from the manufacturer and supplier in relation to the installation, operation, maintenance and inspection of the equipment.

Operators should also be aware of their responsibilities under the standard. For instance it is recommended that operators conduct inspections of the equipment ‘post-assembly’, ‘daily’ and ‘annually’.

Routine maintenance is also recommended and corrective maintenance, where defects have been identified.  In addition, operators are to assemble the equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and to instruct patrons on the safe use of the equipment.

Identified risks

The Standard addresses requirements for anchorage systems and also the requirement for inflatable devices to be designed to withstand a minimum wind speed of 40 kilometres per hour.

Your events inflatable device risk assessment should identify the following risks and provide controls that remove the risks, each must operate in accordance AS/NZS 3533.4.1 - 2005:

Risk: Control: 
Lack or improper supervision
  • The device must be supervised by the inflatable owner or event staff at all times
  • The minimum number of operators/ attendants required to supervise the device and any age restriction that apply
  • Request evidence of the operators experience, safety and training record 
Improper use (that is: allowing mix of adults or older children and young children to play in the inflatable at the same time) 
  • Request evidence of the operators experience, safety and training record
  • The maximum height, weight or age limits that apply for patrons to use the device
Improper set-up 
  • Require that the jumping castle be set up by experienced/ trained personnel
Inadequate anchoring 
  • Operate in accordance AS 3533.4.1
Tie-down ropes of insufficient strength 
  • Operate in accordance AS 3533.4.1
Use of inflatable structures and windy conditions 
  • Ask the hirer what the device’s maximum safe wind speed is when device in use
Access to dangerous parts of the equipment (for example: unguarded fan / blower unit) 
  • Restrict public access by way of temporary fence
Electrical hazards, such as exposed electrical contacts 
  • Check and remove hazards
Entrapment and suffocation points 
  • Check before public use and ensure they are removed
Exit / Entry points blocked / obstructed in the case of an emergency 
  • Remove obstructions or reposition inflatable device
Collision of users 
  • Monitor user numbers and manage behaviour
Trip and fall hazards (for example: due to poor placement of anchorage points) 
  • Check for trip hazards, remove or control
Sharp objects present in jumping area (for example: glasses, buckles on clothing) 
  • Check device before public use and during use
Sudden loss of pressure / deflation due to holes or tears in the fabric of the device 
  • Evacuate device immediately
Lack of safety mats outside exit / entry points 
  • Check and ensure adequate matts

Page last updated: Thursday, 25 June 2020