Health & safety in the children’s entertainment industry

The children’s entertainment industry has been hit very hard by lockdown. With the summer season now over, it faces a long hard road into 2021.

That having been said, all is not yet lost for 2020. Current restrictions are local rather than national and with the correct health and safety measures in place, holidays and events such as Halloween, bonfire night and the festive season will hopefully still have a chance of being celebrated.

Businesses will need to think carefully about what this could mean for them. Currently most children’s entertainment services are restricted by the Rule of six and will need to ensure households are abiding by the most recent government guidelines to secure bookings and the safety of individuals.

Separate COVID-19 related issues from other legal issues

It’s very hard to give guidance on what to do about COVID-19 since it’s continually changing. What’s more, some of it is being customised to suit the circumstances in a particular area.

This means that the only hard-and-fast advice that can be given is to stay on top of guidance and make sure that you communicate this fact effectively.

Effectively means so that the message can be absorbed, literally, at a glance, because that may be all you’ll get.

Understand your standard responsibilities

Outside of COVID-19, children’s entertainers have to abide by standard health and safety guidance. Operators of bouncy castles for example, which are still able to be booked, should be particularly aware of the full, current HSE guidelines on their safe use.

In short:

  • The bouncy castle must comply with the appropriate British standard.
  • It should have a minimum of 6 functional anchor points.
  • It should be used per its safety instructions.
  • Wind speed should always be measured regularly with an anemometer.
  • No bouncy castle should be used if the wind is stronger than 24 mph (38kmph).

In addition to all of the above, children’s entertainers have to abide by the Provision and Use of Play Equipment Regulations (PUWER). This basically means that equipment needs to be regularly tested by a competent person.

As a minimum, the equipment should be tested before first use and once a year thereafter. It should be checked for damage after every use. If any damage is identified it should be fixed before next used. The operator will then need to make a judgement call on whether or not to retest the equipment fully.

For example, minor holes and tears may just be fixed by the operator. If, however, there is identified or suspected damage to anything electrical, like the blower, it may be safest to retest the item. All electrical items will need a PAT test every year.

Supervision of a bouncy castle

In addition to ensuring the safety of the bouncy castle itself, someone must take ownership of ensuring that it is used safely. If it is the hirer, then you need to specify this in the terms of the hiring agreement. It is also advisable to give them clear guidance on what this means in practice.

This guidance should cover:

  • The fact that the hirer is responsible for supervising the safe use of the equipment.
  • Safety limits (e.g. height, weight and number of users).
  • Relevant safety precautions (e.g. putting mats the entrance/exit).
  • Regularly measuring wind conditions.
  • Supervising the behaviour of children on the bouncy castle.

Providing this guidance not only protects you from any potential claim of negligence, but it is also good customer service. Making a customer feel supported may encourage new business.

Businesses within this industry may have their own individual guidelines alongside the governments’ and these would be most beneficial on any marketing material and company websites, should they need to be referred to in order to support certain restrictions or decisions.