Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Questions over zorb ball safety

Questions over zorb ball safety
April 28, 2015

A range of incidents around the world are leading regulatory and safety bodies to question the safety of zorb, hamster and water walking balls.

Reported incidents have seen clients asphyxiated while inside the giant sealed plastic balls – known by trade names including zorb, hamster and water walking balls, with the activity known as globe-riding, sphereing or orbing. In practice, after a person climbs into the big transparent plastic ball, it is inflated by a blower through an opening that is then closed shut, making it airtight. People then roll or walk across water and other surfaces, including ice and grass - like a hamster in a ball.

Pioneered in New Zealand by then business partners Dwayne van der Sluis, Andrew Akers and Craig Horrocks, Zorb Limited, the company founded by the trio, has developed the activity worldwide via a franchise system – with zorb balls becoming popular features at stand-alone attractions, amusement parks, carnivals, retail malls and special events.

While Zorb Limited has a track record of safety at their operations, van der Sluis and Akers have called for the development of an international standard for the activity, citing less reputable operators and the use of substandard materials in a growing number of operations.

However, in the USA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has warned consumers against the activity because of the risk of suffocation and, when used on water, drowning.

Among the CPSC’s concerns is that oxygen can be depleted inside the ball, and dangerous carbon dioxide levels can accumulate in a matter of minutes. The Commission also warns that users with medical conditions, such as heart, lung or breathing issues, could be at higher risk for harm.

Furthermore, frequent lack of emergency exits - zorb balls can often only be unzipped only from the outside - means that people can become trapped within it, increasing the risk of injury or death. Also, because the ball contains no padding, impact injuries are possible if balls collide with each other or land on hard surfaces.

An infamous YouTube video exists of zorb ball running out of control down a ski-slope at the Russian ski-resort of Dombai, which caused the death of a rider.

Operators say there is no danger to users when zorb balls are used properly while Zorb Limited has called on all operators to sign on to the activity’s Code of Safe Operation, listed on the website

The code, created by Zorb, offers a global standard of safety for anyone looking to set up a zorb, hamster and/or water walking ball activity.

In Australia, zorb balls are among a number of inflatable aquatic and related devices not covered by the interim Australian Standard for aquatic and waterborne inflatables or the Standard for land-borne inflatable devices

in 2010, workplace Health and Safety Queensland issued alert notices to the owners and operators of inflatable water balls of the possible risks with their use.





Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Life Fitness

Life Fitness Cardio Life Fitness Strength Hammer Strength Group Cycling Rowers Certified Refurbished Freeweights Benches & Racks Flooring Life Fitness is the global leader in the fitness…

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Technology / Wellness



Myzone is the industry’s leading wearable technology solution. Myzone’s wearable products show and reward effort when you work out. It displays accurate real-time heart rate, calories, and…

read more

Fitness / Sport / Technology / Wellness


Aussie Strength

We are Aussie Strength. The ultimate supplier for Commercial Gym Equipment that's built to deliver in the toughest environments. From USA-Built hardcore weight training equipment from Arsenal…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness



Ecoline is a highly experienced and skilled company that offers world-first technology in safety, protects the environment and provides a unique and challenging custom-made adventure and educational…

read more

Attractions / Environment / Safety / Tourism



Track. Engage. Retain GreeneDesk is a suite of cloud based software solutions helping health clubs, leisure centres and swim schools to effectively track progression, improve customer engagement and…

read more

Aquatics / Billing / Education / Fitness / Technology


TouchCloud Global

Activating skyscapes for tourism, art, leisure and living TouchCloud Global (TCg) is a highly specialised international consultancy, broker and principal, devoted solely to activating and energising…

read more

Attractions / Consultants / Recreation / Safety / Tourism



SGL is an innovative and progressive lifestyle, leisure and community consulting practice, operated by Phillip Gray and active since 1988. SGL has undertaken an extensive range of sport,…

read more

Aquatics / Consultants / Fitness / Recreation / Sport


METRA Australia

METRA Australia is your innovation partner for smart electronic locking, Access Control solutions and cashless payment systems to suit all types of leisure facilities.  Our team’s…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Fitness / Recreation / Security


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business