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Leisure Equipment Asset Protection Scheme, or LEAPS, is a new venture which ensures that the engineering used day-in and day-out for fun and play is safe and reliable. Here, SHP speaks to LEAPS General Manager, Jon Ruddock.
A new Leisure Equipment Asset Protection Scheme (LEAPS) has been set up to service the inspection management needs of the wider, mostly fixed and largely unserved, leisure attraction industry. The aim being to create a regulator supported inspection scheme for the wider, fixed attraction, leisure industry that provides direction for operators, health & safety professionals and regulators about what constitutes a reasonable standard of inspection and maintenance.
The people behind LEAPS have between them over 60 years of knowledge of the industry as inspectors, managers, advisors or regulators.
Jon has spent the last four years as the General Manager of a similar safety attraction scheme and the de facto Managing Director of the Amusement Device Safety Council. Prior to this he spent 26 years as an engineer in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during which he gained professional recognition as a Chartered Engineer with the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET).
His final role in the RAF was as the Chief Air Engineer’s Warrant Officer, the most senior non-commissioned engineering role in the RAF where he advised upon all safety and engineering risk that affected RAF engineering.
Melvin, the LEAPS Founder, spent 17 years as an HSE Inspector and is now Senior Consultant and Expert Witness at Finch Consulting, specialising in the leisure and entertainment sectors.
Melvin was the lead author for numerous HSE guidance documents including HSG 175 and has also led rewrites of guidance for the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and contributed to the same for the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABBT) amongst others.
LEAPS is an easy to follow, equipment management system that will allow operators to manage their equipment from design to disposal in accordance with all the relevant health and safety standards, guidance and legislation. It ensures operators with limited technical knowledge can buy, maintain and operate leisure equipment that is continually becoming higher, faster and more complex every day, LEAPS provides assurance to the public that those that use LEAPS are operating safely and with minimal risk.
The goal of LEAPS is to help operators keep their paying guests safe, happy, thrilled and wanting more, by assessing and then connecting competent inspectors with entertainment venues.
LEAPS already has buy-in from Paulton’s Park, The British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions (BALPPA), the National Farm Attraction Network (NFAN) and Roarr!! Dinosaur Park. Discussions are progressing with other big names in the leisure industry, such as Center Parcs and Go Ape, who are interested in the scheme. Work is ongoing with many other groups involved with adventure training, equipment manufacturers and family entertainment centres to set, maintain and monitor the standards across a wide range of leisure and entertainment sectors.
With a deep and broad expertise in the leisure industry, engineering, health and safety and legislation, the LEAPS team will work with safety inspectors, parks, zoos, activity centres, theatres, and many other attractions across the UK.
The core of LEAPS will be an inspection and management system which will align with the RAMS principles of Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety. It will follow the System for Safety of Attractions, best described in HSG 175, the HSE’s Fairgrounds and amusement parks: Guidance on safe practice. The system will operate on these principles across all industries and discussions are ongoing with HSE about a formal expression of support.
Most accidents in the leisure industry happen because of poorly inspected/maintained equipment and/or poor operation. LEAPS works on the principle that the operator, the equipment and the inspector must all work in accord with the LEAPS Scheme Operating Procedures (SOPs). Both operators and inspectors sign up to this when they join, and continued membership depends on maintaining that standard.
Venues, attractions and inspectors can apply to become a member of LEAPS and, if accepted, they will sign up to the SOPs that are based on compliance with the relevant industry specific guidance, EN/ISO standards and legislation.
LEAPS will maintain a range of assurance activities to ensure inspectors are competent for their work and will provide access to training and CPD. LEAPS has written a positioning paper so that a strategic alliance can be agreed with the IET and will align its inspector grades and competence levels to the UK Engineering Specification as published by the UK Engineering Council so that professional recognition is easily mapped. This raises the possibility for moves across different areas of the leisure industry and career progress through different sectors of the industry based on increasing competence and technical ability. For the operators it means a pool of competent engineers to choose from.
Equipment which is part of the LEAP Scheme will be issued with a visible QR code, which will allow members of the public and regulators to easily and quickly find out when that piece of equipment was last inspected and whether it still has valid LEAPS certification to operate.
Aside from the previously mentioned well known attractions, the LEAPS logo will be increasingly seen on soft play attractions, trampoline parks, forest parks, zip wire attractions and more!
LEAPS is being run for the industry by several industry specialists. It will be run as a private company that reinvests heavily back into the industry to ensure mutual success. Current plans include:
LEAPS has gained notable recognition already within the industry with David Bromilow of Mobaro, who also holds positions as a member of the IAAPA EMEA Safety committee, member of the IAAPA Global Safety committee and the AIMS international President.
David said: “Having worked in the attractions safety sector Globally for over 40 years many of those in the UK, I see LEAPS as a refreshing and much needed step forward in how we manage the important role of independent inspection processes but also in the way it encompasses the actual operations and maintenance element, often overlooked when the focus remains solely on the state of the attraction on the day of the inspection. LEAPS embraces the operational cycle of the asset bringing an operational benefit to owner operators in the validation and audit of the inspection process, the inspections bodies conducting the inspections and validity of the operational and maintenance process of the attraction including an effective safety management system.”
The most recent operator to join LEAPS is Paultons Park and its General Manager of Technical Services and Chair of the BALPPA Health & Safety Committee, Mark Taylor ,said: “Paultons Park decided to use the LEAPS scheme from 1 May 2022, this coincides with the start of the Parks 2022/23 cycle of annual ride & attraction inspections.
“The process which LEAPS have created better reflects the overall procedures we now carry out ourselves at the park and, amongst other things, LEAPS intends to create a full technical committee to both support and challenge the members of the LEAP scheme. This is something we fully support and are pleased to be a part of. The safety of our guests is at the heart of everything we do and is the cornerstone of the theme park and attraction industry, we believe LEAPS will be well placed to technically support and improve this going forward.”
To ensure its integrity, LEAPS will be based on a set of rules contained in the SOPs that everyone involved will be required to abide by. It will have industry advisory groups to ensure the scheme remains relevant and provides what the industry needs but will maintain its independence by not having financially interested industry shareholders. The scheme will be a hands-off, rules based, commercial system that will provide a trouble free, efficient service to all that use it and provide confidence to the public that when they visit a leisure site that is LEAPS certified, they are safe.