Bouncy Castle & Inflatable Testing Explained Including what is a PIPA Test?

Bouncy castle and inflatable equipment testing is a somewhat unexplained grey area of the industry. We will outline it in simple terms during this help guide to help you understand what exactly inflatable testing is.

This article will explain:

What is EN14960?

EN14960 Inflatables

What inflatables should be tested?

What about inflatables not covered in EN14960?

Is PIPA testing a legal requirement?

and more

What is EN14960?

EN14960 is the British and European Standard Guidance Note written to provide a structure on how certain types of inflatable play equipment should be manufactured and operated when at a commercial and public domain level. There is currently no other British or European standard that must be adhered to. If you are an inflatable hire or rental company, it is extremely important that you read through this document and gain a knowledge about how to operate safely.

How does EN14960 relate to getting my bouncy castles tested?

All manufacturers manufacturing inflatables that fall under the scope of BS EN14960 must issue a conformity certificate to show that the item meets this standard. This certificate a valid document for proof that your inflatable is fit for purpose until it’s first annual test is required. EN14960 states that inflatable equipment must be maintained and checked regularly to ensure the item remains is a fit for purpose state until the annual test. When your inflatable is 12 months old it is required to have an annual inspection by a “competent person”

Some of examples of competent persons;

  • The original manufacturer 
  • A trained/registered inspector of inflatable play equipment from a testing body (e.g. RPII, PIPA, ADIPS)
  • Other reputable manufacturers

What inflatables does EN14960 cover?

EN14960 is intended for inflatables where the main activity is bouncing or sliding

  • Flat bed inflatables (4 open sides)
  • Bouncy Castles (3 Walled Sides, 1 Open Side) (With and without roofs)
  • Bouncy Castle and Slide Combos
  • Bouncy Castle Multi Plays
  • Obstacle Courses
  • Inflatable Slides
  • Enclosed Inflatables (E.g. Disco Domes)
  • Inflatable Soft Mountains

What is not covered in EN14960?

Inflatables where the main activity is not bouncing or sliding, for example:

  • Inflatable Games (Football Shootouts, Bungee Runs, Gladiator Duels etc)
  • Inflatable Buildings (Tents, Nightclubs, Gazebos etc)
  • Soft Play
  • Inflatable Ball Ponds
  • Inflatable Theme Parks (Due to extra regulations such as fire escape requirements)

How is an EN14960 inflatable test conducted?

When a test is conducted on an inflatable covered by EN14960, the original manufacturer will check it over for any alterations or repairs to ensure it still meets the standard (EN14960). They will also check over:

  • Structural Integrity
  • Anchorage
  • Pressure Loss
  • Tears/Rips
  • Seam Security
  • Identify potential areas that could require future repairs

The original manufacturer may also be able to use the PIPA testing system to conduct a competent EN14960 test.

Key Components of a PIPA Test

A PIPA test typically involves several key components, including:

Inflation Test: The inflatable structure is inflated to its full capacity to assess its performance and stability. Inspectors observe for proper inflation, even pressure distribution, and any signs of overloading or stress on the material.

Visual Inspection: Trained inspectors visually examine the inflatable structure to identify any visible signs of wear, damage, or defects. This includes inspecting seams, stitching, anchor points, and safety features.

Physical Inspection: Inspectors check measurements and sizes of vital areas to ensure they meet EN14960 standards

Deflation Test: After inflation, the inflatable structure is deflated to evaluate the functionality of deflation mechanisms and ensure a safe and controlled exit for users.

Inspection of Anchorage Accessories: All anchorage pegs must meet the EN14960 standard of 16mm Wide x 380mm Length MINIMUM

Documentation and Certification: Upon successful completion of the PIPA test, the inflatable structure is issued a PIPA tag or certificate, indicating compliance with safety standards. This documentation serves as proof of compliance and demonstrates the operator's commitment to safety.

What is PIPA and a PIPA test, is it the law?

PIPA is not required by law and is not a law governing body. However, it is law that you must have your inflatables annual inspected and the most widespread coverage of inspectors belongs to PIPA, so you may find it is easiest to use PIPA to find a competent person to do your testing. 

It may also be the easiest way to prove to your insurance you have had your testing conducted by a competent inspector if you cannot return to original manufacturer.

Andy J Leisure Ltd is a registered PIPA inspection body.

What about inflatables that do not fall under the scope of EN14960?

Whilst you can not technically produce an EN14960 certificate or PIPA test for this type of inflatable, a competent person would be able to produce an assessment on the condition and safety of the inflatable. When doing this they are able to use some of the same principles of EN14960 testing to show competence in their assessment of the inflatable. This is important, as basic health and safety operation laws state all equipment being used must be tested regularly to ensure the safest operation is available.

How often should our equipment be tested?

EN14960 states equipment should be tested annually, however must be maintained by the owner during the year of use and operation to ensure the best possible safe operating.

What about blowers?

Inflatable air blowers should be PAT tested annually like all electrical equipment in the work place.

We hope this article has helped with the explanation of inflatable testing and if you have any further questions please do get in touch.

2024 Non-Ride On Games

From 2024, PIPA Inspectors can now PIPA tag non-ride on games. A non-ride on game, is an inflatable game of which the user does not ascend the inflatable in order to use it. Some examples are; football darts, inflatable basketball game, inflatable axe throwing game, inflatable football shootout and other similar inflatables.

Examples of a ride on game; bungee run, gladiator duel, inflatable knock 'em off or wrecking ball and similar inflatables.