Are you a Self-employed fairground ride operator

Information about what a self-employed person needs to do to ensure his machine can be set up, run and dismantled safely – and the steps required to make sure the health and safety of themselves and members of the public are not put at risk.

What you must do:

The law requires self-employed ride controllers to:

  • Manage hazards and risk – You must plan, manage and monitor the erection, running and dismantling of your machine to ensure it is done safely and does not cause health and safety risks to those working on / around it, or to those riding it.
  • Operate the machine safely – You must do your work safely and not create risk to yourself or to others.

What you need to know:

Health and safety law applies equally to both self-employed people and employers.
Being self employed for tax purposes may not mean you are self employed for H&S law purposes.  Make sure you know your status and the status of those working with you.

Manage hazards and risk

There are a number of things you must do in order to manage the hazards and risks involved in running a fairground ride. Obviously, the greater the hazard, the greater the level of risk control there should be. You should therefore consider:

  • When buying a machine – The Amusement Devices Safety Council (ADSC) and HSE have drawn up a system for the safety of attractions. It covers the design, manufacture, testing and operation of fairground rides. It is strongly recommended that you adhere to this guidance when buying a new ride. For further details, see: Fairgrounds and amusement parks: Guidance on safe practice.
  • Risk management system – You must ensure that you identify and control the risks that your machine creates. This process is called risk assessment and should form part of your health and safety management system.
  • Ride inspection – You must have your ride inspected annually by a competent person. HSE considers ride inspectors registered under the Amusement Devices Inspection Procedure Scheme (ADIPS) or under the PIPA scheme (for inflatables) to be competent in undertaking these inspections. If you use an inspector from outside these schemes, you may have to demonstrate how you assessed their competence.
  • Ride maintenance – Your ride will degrade over time so it is important to check it over regularly and ensure that any routine or extraordinary maintenance is carried out promptly. Repairs should only be carried out by a person competent to do them and, where a safety feature is affected, the repair must be reviewed by a competent design reviewer. Routine maintenance procedures should be set out in your machine's operations manual.
  • Accident history – HSE statistics website and NAFLIC publish details of accidents / incidents involving particular types of machine. You should regularly check these and take the necessary action to ensure the same thing doesn't happen with your machine.
  • Rider safety – You must make sure that the people riding your machine can be carried safely, paying particular attention to:
    • any height restrictions identified in the machine's operation manual
    • any obvious or notified disabilities that may affect the rider's ability to ride safely and stay within any containment system. This may include excess weight, heart conditions, physical or mental impairment etc
    • whether the rider appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Emergency procedures – You must have systems in place to ensure that any foreseeable emergency can be dealt with, and that riders can be safely evacuated from the ride. This may include fire, loss of power or the structural failure of all or part of the machine. You can't simply leave this to the emergency services as they may be busy elsewhere.
  • Inflatable safety – Equipment should be designed and manufactured in accordance with British Standard BS EN 14960 Inflatable play equipment – Safety requirements and test methods. For further information on the safe use of inflatables and to purchase a copy of the standard, visit the British Standards Institute Shop, or see: PIPA.

Operate your machine safely

You should be able to build up, operate and strip down your machine safely and without creating uncontrolled risks to the health and safety of yourself or to others. You should take the following into consideration:

  • Accidents with regard to work at height, manual handling and electrical safety are common in the fairground industry. You should take special care when doing any of this work.
  • Know which parts to check when doing daily safety checks and seek advice about how to rectify the problem if necessary.
  • Decide who should / should not be allowed to ride – see Rider safety above.
  • How to operate the machine in accordance with its operation manual, including:
    • loading the ride to ensure it is correctly balanced
    • ensuring restraint / containment systems are correctly closed / fitted before the machine starts
    • clearing people from the danger areas around the machine and making sure fences and gates are closed to prevent access while the machine is in motion
    • not increasing risk to the riders when taking manual control of the ride function, eg through higher speed, more vigorous bouncing etc
    • dealing with people who may become incapacitated or hurt while on the ride.
  •  What to do in case of emergency and who to contact for help (see Emergency procedures above).

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Updated 2022-11-01