Letting things slide

6 March, 2015  |  News

A spate of giant inflatable slide incidents in the last couple of months has prompted a call for more active supervision of such fun activities.

Health and safety consultant Ian Clark, who has significant experience advising on public events, told Safeguard that technology has evolved to the point where inflatable devices available for public and commercial use were now so high off the ground they posed a significant risk of falling from the top of the structure, and of high speed collisions if participants were not properly separated – as well as the traditional risk of inflatable structures blowing away in gusts of wind.

“They are fun and it’s great to see them, but they are starting to become extra high and that raises the bar considerably. All of them carry inherent risk. Have we kept up with the management of them? Evidently not.”

Based on media reports, Clark says the common factor appears to be one of straightforward event management: the number of people on the slide structure hasn’t always been under control, nor has the rate at which they descend the slides. "Active supervision is required, by people who have knowledge and competence. These are commercial operators and all the rules apply.”

He recalled an event he was involved in which featured a long inflatable obstacle course, parts of which were several metres off the ground. “One of the guys who set it up climbed up a rope ladder on one side, lost his balance and fell, breaking his ankle.”

Incidents Safeguard has noticed from media reports this year include:

  • 20 January: woman breaks ankle while going down a giant slide (Titahi Bay).
  • 1 February: man struck by another slider and knocked unconscious, with spinal injuries (Christchurch).
  • 1 February: woman struck by another slide at same event, rendered briefly unconscious.
  • 22 February: six children briefly hospitalised after falling from the top of an inflatable slide after one side of it collapsed (Masterton).
  • 24 February: slide event cancelled because the site near Te Papa was deemed too risky (Wellington).

Source Alert24 subscription, www.safeguard.co.nz