In his capacity as an ex HSE inspector of fairgrounds, Finch Senior Consultant Melvin Sandell was interviewed live on SKY TV on 30 May following an accident which had occurred at The Lightwater Valley Theme Park, near Ripon, in North Yorkshire.
The accident involved a six year old boy who had reportedly fallen from the Twister rollercoaster. He was airlifted to hospital and is currently reported as critical with a head injury.
During the six minute interview, Melvin gave his perspective on the accident to Kay Burley of Sky News who asked how the HSE would start investigating the accident, how long the process might take and what powers the HSE has to close the ride.
Commenting Melvin said, “Obviously this incident is very traumatic and emotional, but the HSE will approach this very methodically in order to identify the root cause of the accident.
They will investigate the machinery and ensure it has been maintained in accordance with health and safety rules and regulations to ensure all safety features were operating correctly. They will also investigate human factors such as how the ride was operated on the day and how people on the ride were behaving to identify if they were acting safely and looking after themselves.”
Investigations like this can be very quick if the root cause is quickly identified, or they can be very lengthy and time consuming. Inspectors have a very formal process to follow and will be granted far reaching powers to investigate in order get to the root of whatever happened.
Whilst it is very sad when people get hurt, the inspectors have to disassociate themselves from any emotions and focus on the information as found. They will firstly take possession of the ride to inspect and fact find. Equipment like this is very complex and involves lots of electronics and hydraulics so they may consult with experts in electronics and ergonomics.”
According to HSE research, statistically theme park rides are still far safer than the car journey people take to visit an attraction – so as long as they engineered, operated and maintained in accordance with current legislation.
Finch Consulting has worked for a number of operators helping them to manage risk, prevent accidents and defend against negligence claims.