The recent trial, and subsequent imprisonment, of a husband and wife who operated a bouncy castle at an event that led to the death of a young child have highlighted the risks when you allow third parties to operate events or attractions on your premises. Whether it is something that you do free of charge to your customers to draw them in, or as a way of generating venue in its own right, the risks are still the same.
There is a great temptation, when paying for someone to come on to your premises to run an attraction or an event, simply to allow whoever it is to run the activity as they see fit. However, just paying their fee does not absolve you of responsibility, should the attraction cause injury or worse, or indeed if the persons delivering the event themselves are injured.
The tragic case mentioned at the beginning of this article demonstrates that attributing blame to those who operate the attraction does not absolve those whose premises it is from exercising some due diligence.
When booking entertainers, attractions or anything of that type, you need fully to understand the risks associated with any activity, no matter how benign you think the act or attraction is.
You should check that the performer or entertainer has risk assessments in place for the activity and that any equipment that they bring to the premises is well maintained and suitable.
While on your premises, they should be aware of your health and safety arrangements, and these should be brought formally to their attention. In addition, documentation should be created to show that they are aware of what you require and the standards that you maintain.
While those persons are on your premises, you have an obligation to keep them safe, together with carrying on oversight of what they are doing, to ensure that those affected by their actions are also protected. This entails robust supervision of what they are doing and how they are doing it. If your standards are not met, there should be prompt intervention to resolve the issue or stop it.
A number of clients over the years have been prosecuted for accidents and injuries where they themselves played no active part other than acquiescing and allowing their premises to be used for a particular activity.
Such a “hands-off” approach will not absolve you of blame, either in the criminal or civil courts. An active risk-assessment and ongoing management of who you have let on to your premises has to take place to prevent the type of accident that will, not only bring criminal prosecutions and civil proceedings, but also have a lasting and overwhelming, brand-damaging impact on your business.