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Non-Compliance in attractions and entertainment has its costs
In the wake of the deaths of four people on an amusement ride at Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld in October and potential legal action facing those who may be deemed responsible by Police and Coronial investigations, the penalties associated with non-compliance with health and safety legislation can have major financial implications for operators across the leisure industry.
While investigations into the Dreamworld are ongoing, legal action resulting from the death of an 11-year old girl after she was flug from a ride at the 2014 Royal Adelaide Show are currently stalled.
The owners of the ride, the safety inspection company that verified the ride and its owner are being prosecuted under health and safety legislation with the companies facing a maximum penalty of a $3 million fine while the individual face a maximum penalty of $600,000 fine and or five years imprisonment if found guilty.
Writing in his latest industry newsletter, leading risk management consulatant Wayne Middleon, the Principal of Reliance Risk, cites two examples where non-compliance has its costs.
Middleton comments on the recent fine of almost $80,000 incurred by New Zealand based Mahon’s Amusements after a two year old boy suffered leg injuries on its Crazy Circus ride at the Alexandra Park Fun Fest.
Middleton refers to the boy having “become entangled in the ride, with investigations revealing maintenance had been undertaken that day and not properly reviewed by the engineers who cleared the ride for use.
“As part of the fine, the judge presiding considered the pain and suffering the injury had caused to the child’s parents, and specifically the impact of negative comments directed at the child’s mother on social media, which had implied that the incident would not have occurred if she was properly supervising the boy.”
Middleton then referenced the Disney-owned company responsible for the UK production on the 2015 Star Wars film, ‘The Force Awakens’, which was fined the equivalent of $2.6 million for an accident that, the court said, could have killed 72 year- old Harrison Ford when he was re-enacting his famous Han Solo role.
Admitting liability, the parent company had two health and safety breaches, with the presiding judge stating “if you have a risk assessment and you do not communicate it, what is the point of having one?”
An older example of non-compliance, also at the Royal Adelaide Show, was the notorious collapse of the Spin Dragon ride in 2000.
The Wittingslow Amusements ride, which contemporary reports said had been in danger of collapsing for years, came crashing down and left 37 people injured – sparking lengthy legal proceedings against its operators.
The investigation found that 44 out of 48 bolts on a section of the Spin Dragon had broken because of metal fatigue and Wittingslow Amusements was found guilty of more than 30 charges of failing to protect the public and its workers.
At the time, Industrial Court Magistrate Richard Hardy said that the accident could have been avoided if proper maintenance had been carried out.
Hardy found the company liable to pay $20,000 to each victim and $147,500 in other penalties, yet Wittingslow never paid because the company had been declared insolvent.
Victims later received between $2000 and $400,000 compensation, based on their injuries, following a class-action lawsuit and an out-of-court settlement.
Reports on social media suggest that the Spin Dragon remains operational today.
Click here to visit the Reliance Risk website.
Images: The former Spin Dragon ride (top) and Mahons Amusements Crazy Circus (below).
10th November 2016 - AMUSEMENT OPERATOR TO PAY $80,000 AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO HEALTH AND SAFETY CHARGE
29th October 2016 - QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT TO UNDERTAKE ‘SAFETY BLITZ’ ON THEME PARKS
7th December 2015 - SAFETY AND SECURITY APP DONESAFE RECOGNISED AS BEST SMALL BUSINESS DESIGN STUDIO
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