The safe use of inflatables is still a top issue for ADSC (Amusement Device Safety Council) and its partners, and it cropped up at a recent meeting of the FJAC (Fairground Joint Advisory Committee). This related to continuous flow designs (bouncy castles) rather than sealed inflatables such as those uses on water, writes ADSC chairman Phil Pike.


FJAC (Fairground Joint Advisory Committee) meets four times a year with the HSE and industry stakeholders in presence. This most recent meeting, December 2022, took place at Alton Towers to celebrate the park winning the UK’s Top Theme Park at the recent Theme Park of the Year Awards.

The meeting looks at safety within the sector and is an essential focal point of issues that need to be addressed. The subjects or issues talked about included working at height, electrical control systems, restraints, passenger behaviour, maintenance and safety testing of rides (called devices). Plus, we looked at the subject of this article, inflatables.

There are a few issues currently being looked at regarding the safe use of inflatables.


Work is currently being undertaken regarding the anchorage of inflatables. There is guidance on their manufacture, that being EN14960:2016 and various best practice guides.

The guidance stipulates that an inflatable must have the right number and standard of anchor points. Each ground anchor point must display a downward force of 16,000 newtons (163kg). But how do you test this? Pulling the anchorage stake till it comes out of the ground defeats the purpose. It’s like NDT on fairground rides. Non-Destructive Testing, how to test something without breaking it.

The ground on sites can also vary vastly. In one place, an anchor stake may be driven nicely into the ground, a metre away there may be an underground obstacle that hinders it.

The HSE are currently constructing a project to look into this. What size of stake should be used, and how can you check the ground?

Until the research is complete, the current industry advice is still applicable. An inflatable should be made to the EN standard and have at least the correct number of anchor points that the calculations indicate. And that all anchor points should be used, including any high ones. If it’s there, use it!

We expect the findings of the report at some point next year.

FR – Fire Retardant vs Fire Resistant

There is also a consultation going on regarding this question. At present it is being asked what the difference is between the two definitions. There is a difference between an inflatable being fire resistant to being fore retardant. This will be a big issue with inflatables used primarily indoors.

At present the vinyl material used in an inflatable’s construction must meet an EN code. But there are a few that could apply including the one relating to tarpaulin use. We expect clarity on this definition soon.

Sealed Inflatables

On a continuous flow inflatable design, a fan continuously pushes air into the unit to keep it buoyant. This is because the unit is stitched together with a commercial sowing machine. Units used on water have their material ‘welded’ together.

Guidance on sealed units was recently updated by Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This included advice on pressure checking. Further work is undergoing including if water has friction that aids its anchorage.

More to follow

There will be more to follow on the above when advice or guidance is issued. Please contact the ADIPS office if you have any queries or need advice.

You can find more advice on the safe use of inflatables from HSE here.