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Health and Safety - Outdoor Hospitality Safety Advice

Business owners and managers in the hospitality sector, particularly those who use outdoor areas to provide seating and entertainment for customers, need to stop and consider if you have or will be introducing unexpected dangers into the workplace that could pose a risk to colleagues and customers.

The purpose of this page is to draw your attention to three matters that may be relevant for you, and ensure you have suitably assessed the risks posed with outdoor hospitality and put in sufficient precautions. The three areas are: 

  • Electrical safety outdoors,
  • The use of outdoor inflatable play equipment,
  • Temporary structures - gazebos, marquees and umbrellas. 

Electrical Safety

Employers and those in control of premises have a duty to ensure that electrical systems on their premises are maintained and free from danger. To demonstrate compliance we would advise you follow the advice below:

  • Check that your electrical installation has been inspected less than 5 years ago, or more recently if there has been a change of occupancy. The electrician may have specified a different more frequent inspection regime due to the systems age or condition at the last inspection, so check your electrical certificate to be sure.
  • Make sure any electrician you instruct is qualified and competent. One way to do that is to check with the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) list of approved contractors, or check if the electrician is a member of theElectrical Contractors Association (ECA).
  • Ensure that all outside sockets are RCD protected. 
  • Don't be tempted to do a DIY job on your electrics.
  • Make sure outdoor electrical equipment and cables are appropriate for outdoor use, for example, an appropriate level of ingress protection (IP) for water and dust.
  • Undertake and keep a record of visual checks on outside electrical installations for damage and defects caused by weather, physical abrasion and or gnawing by rodents and wildlife.
  • Ensure those in control are trained and competent to know how to isolate equipment or parts of the installation to reduce danger as soon as practicably possible where defects or damage is identified.
  • Ensure emergency procedures are in place to keep customers and staff away from any electrical danger where it is not safe or able to be isolated.

For more information on electrical safety and your responsibilities please use the following link to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

Inflatable Play Equipment

The choice, installation and use of inflatables including bouncy castles needs thorough consideration and assessing. There are precautions that should be taken to avoid serious incidents, whether you supply or buy bouncy castles and inflatables, are hiring one for an event, or operate them. Basildon Council has adopted a 'precautionary approach' to safety when considering inflatable devices. If you wish to supply, hire or use bouncy castles or other play inflatables, you will need to demonstrate that you have carried out a risk assessment and put in place suitable precautions to prevent injury. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published HSE revised inflatables guidance. Although this guidance applies to commercial events, we would advise that private domestic buyers and users also follow this guidance where possible.

We would advise you to:

HSE guidance details what you should do before you hire or buy a device and how it should be set up and used at the event. It is important to note that the guidance states: 

'When the inflatable is being operated outside, use an anemometer to measure the wind speed at regular intervals. If one of these is not available, the inflatable should not be operated outside.'

'Do not use smartphone weather applications to measure wind speed as they do not take localised wind conditions into account'

Temporary Structures - Gazebos, Marquees to use temporary and Umbrellas

The weather in the UK is such that it is not uncommon to use marquees, awnings or gazebos, large umbrellas or other large structures to create covered seating for your customers.  But fly away, collapsible/temporary structures can cause personal injury and or property damage.

All 'temporary' structures will have preferred methods of installation and limits of usability. Larger structures, such as staging, may require a certificate of installation stating that they have been installed correctly.

Whilst we cannot provide a definitive list for every type of temporary structure, the list below covers the most common issues to consider:

  • Is the temporary structure really suitable for the purpose you intend? Seek advice on types of structure from professionals if you are unsure.
  • Where a contractor or supplier has installed the structure seek to obtain a certificate of safe installation from them.
  • Where a DIY installation is undertaken, ensure that all the manufacturer's instructions are followed.
  • Where weights are used to secure the structure, these must be in line with the manufacturer's instructions and located so as to minimise tripping hazards.
  • Where guy ropes are supplied to secure the structure, these must be installed correctly, highlighted and positioned to minimise tripping hazards.
  • Any securing pegs/spikes must be correctly installed.
  • Where the structure is supplied and not designed to have sides attached, DIY sides must not be added as these will significantly compromise the stability and capability of the structure during poor weather.
  • You must know the limits of usability for the structure, particularly the wind speed in which the structure should not be used.  This limit must be considered and included within your workplace risk assessment.
  • The limits of usability may differ pending on whether the structure is fitted with sides or the sides have been removed.
  • Ensure that umbrellas are properly secured in their bases to avoid being pulled out in windy conditions and are removed where possible prior to conditions deteriorating.
  • All limits of operations and actions to take must be included within your workplace risk assessment and communicated to your staff.
  • Structures, specifically any securing or safety devices must be checked frequently, preferably daily, to ensure that they remain safe to use. It is strongly recommended that any checks are recorded.
  • Those undertaking checks must have been instructed on what to check and what to look for and assess in accordance with manufacturers/installers instructions.

It is recommended that you purchase an anemometer to check wind speeds locally so as to monitor and if necessary clear or demount the temporary structures prior to wind limits being reached. To purchase one from Amazon, see: Anemometer on Amazon UK website

If you have any questions or would like further advice please contact Basildon Council's Environmental Health team.