A fairground operator has been fined for safety failings after 22 people, many of them children, were trapped when a poorly maintained ride collapsed.
All the passengers on the Surf Rider at Skegness Pleasure Beach had to be rescued by the fire service in the incident on 30 August 2011. Seven passengers were taken to hospital, with three of those being kept in overnight but allowed home the next day.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which recently prosecuted Pleasure Beach Amusements (Skegness) Ltd for safety failings at Skegness Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard that the Surf Rider was fully-loaded and in operation when the passenger car leveling mechanism failed, causing the car to rotate on its axis and collide with the platform.
HSE found a gearbox for the mechanism had failed due to a lack of oil. A bearing in the gearbox became so hot that it seized and jammed the leveling mechanism. As a result, several other components failed and led to the passenger car operating at an angle to the main arm instead of remaining horizontal throughout the ride.
Pleasure Beach Amusements (Skegness) Ltd, of Grand Parade, Skegness, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector David Kivlin said:
“This was a frightening incident for many people that day and it could have been easily prevented. There was just not enough oil in the gearboxes.
“There was specific instruction from the ride manufacturer and the gearbox manufacturer relating to the lubrication of the gearboxes. HSE would expect the company to have checked that gearbox oil levels were correct before installation. As the oil levels were insufficient, there was, therefore, an inevitability about this incident.
“The injuries suffered by those on the ride that day could have been much worse. It was a traumatic experience for everyone on board and some are now unwilling to go on fair rides or in lifts.
“Incidents on fairground rides are rare and infrequent if equipment is safe and correctly maintained.”
Safety advice on fairgrounds is available at:www.hse.gov.uk/entertainment/fairgrounds