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Bouncing around at school sports day – but be careful! 

 

The school summer sports day is one all pupils look forward to taking part in. It’s a tradition that is spoken about for years to come, even once the students pass on through the doors of your school - that famous egg and spoon race, or the time that pupil or teacher fell over crossing the finish line wining the three legged race! Recently, with Covid-19 restrictions, the school sports day was benched, in favour of social distancing and class pods. However, with restrictions lifting and the summer sun on the horizon, pupils and schools are looking forward to planning their sports day, dusting down the Hulu hoops and empty sacks, and getting ready to have some much needed fun!

In more recent times, schools have also hired bouncy castles to add to the occasion of the sports day. While these can be great fun, they can also be dangerous if not set up correctly or supervised adequately. Accidents on bouncy castles can lead to serious injury to pupils, so care must be taken in their preparation, set up and operation. In pre-Covid times, lack of insurance options for bouncy castle owners was in the news, with providers in some cases unable to source insurance, or in other cases, their premiums were increased to an unaffordable level. This in itself demonstrates the inherent risks associated with bouncy castles.

Providers that have their own insurance are required by their insurer to provide safety certs for each inflatable that they own, prior to going on cover. This ensures that the inflatables are maintained and continuously checked to ensure they are in good working order. However, bouncy castle providers operating without insurance no longer have to get their inflatables certified meaning some providers might also cut back on this expense. 

So what does this mean for schools hiring a bouncy castle this summer?

As always, your Allianz School Custodian policy, will provide cover to the Board of Management of your school to organise your school sports day, including the hire of a bouncy castle. While your policy provides cover if there was negligence on the schools part in relation to the supervision of the inflatable - inflating, erecting and dismantling of the bouncy castle, along with any defects with the inflatable itself, are the responsibility of the provider. The bouncy castles are secured to the ground and inflated by the providers, and it is imperative that time is taken to do this safely and correctly.

In December 2021, six pupils tragically lost their lives at a school fun day event in Australia, when the bouncy castle that they were in was blown into the air by a strong gust of wind. While in January 2022 in Spain, two children lost their lives in a similar incident where the inflatable was not secured to the ground correctly. 

If you are planning on hiring a bouncy castle for your sports day this year, make sure to only use providers who can confirm to you, or your insurer Allianz, that they have a valid insurance policy in place. Some operators are providing schools with a waiver, stating that while they do not have insurance, they will take responsibility for any claims that occur. We believe that in the event of a claim, where the provider has no insurance, the school may be liable to the injured party, as the organiser of the event who hired in the bouncy castle, knowing that they did not have any insurance in place. 

On the day that the inflatable arrives at the school and has been erected some safety checks on the equipment need to be carried out. A designated person should ensure that:

• The equipment has been erected on an even grass surface. 

• Make sure the inflatable is securely tied down.  

• Check if it is inflating correctly. 

• Make sure the electric cables are in good order and are placed where they cannot cause trips. 

• Protect the electrical equipment from rain showers and wet grass.

 

Once the equipment has been passed fit for use, the supervision of the children on and around the inflatable is of paramount importance.

• All sides of the inflatable including the entrance and exit points should be marshalled.

• No shoes should be worn by anyone using the inflatable

• The inflatable should not be positioned within thirty metres of moving traffic.

• Children should be prevented from using the side where the inflating equipment and electric cables are positioned.

• Children on the inflatable should be restricted according to their age and size. 

• No more than one child per 1.5 square metres of bouncing space should be allowed.

 

Prior to the hiring of bouncy castle, please contact Allianz on 01 6133966* or your Local Allianz Representative in order to confirm cover. 

If you wish to discuss any issues in particular please feel free to contact our School Support Team on 01 6133966* (Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm) or through dummy education@allianz.ie. As always you can also contact yourdummy Local Allianz Representative to discuss. If you are insured through an insurance intermediary then please contact them directly for assistance.

 

*Calls may be recorded.