Operator fined after ride collapses

Children were among 22 people trapped in a fairground attraction when a poorly maintained ride collapsed at one of Britain’s top holiday resorts, a court has been told.

Firefighters rescued the passengers on the Surf Rider at Skegness Pleasure Beach – but seven were taken to hospital and three were treated overnight.

The case highlights the risk of potentially suffering a personal accident injury if required health and safety standards have not been met – and Accident Advice Helpline’s lawyers are ready to help with compensation claims.

Skegness Magistrates’ Court was told the incident, which happened at the height of the holiday season, on August 30 2011, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Pleasure Beach Amusements (Skegness) Ltd for safety failings.

HSE Inspector David Kivlin described it as “a frightening incident which could have been easily prevented”.

The court heard the Surf Rider was fully operational when the passenger car levelling mechanism failed, causing the car to rotate on its axis and collide with the platform.

Seized and jammed

HSE investigators found a gearbox had failed due to a lack of oil – and a bearing in the gearbox became so hot that it seized and jammed the levelling mechanism.

Several other components subsequently failed and this led to the passenger car operating at an angle to the main arm (instead of remaining horizontal throughout the ride). As the arm continued to rotate, the car tilted and collided with the ride platform, coming to a sudden halt at an angle of around 80 degrees.

“There was just not enough oil in the gearboxes,” said Mr Kivlin.

There was specific instruction from the ride manufacturer and the gearbox manufacturer relating to the lubrication of the gearboxes, he said.

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, he added.

The court’s verdict

The fairground operator, Pleasure Beach Amusements (Skegness) Ltd of Grand Parade, Skegness, admitted breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,000.

Source: HSE

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