Alton Towers operator Merlin Attractions fined £5m over health and safety failings

Fine comes after admitting health and safety breaches concerning Smiler rollercoaster crash

The operators of Alton Towers, Merlin Attractions, have been fined £5m, after admitting health and safety failings, following the Smiler rollercoaster crash last year, which left sixteen people injured.

Leah Washington, who was seventeen at the time and Vicky Balch, then aged nineteen, both lost a leg as a result of the crash, which happened in June 2015.

Merlin Attractions were given the fine, after the court was told that an engineer ‘felt pressure’ to get the rollercoaster serviceable again, after it had developed a problem not long before the accident occurred.

Alton Towers operator Merlin Attractions fined £5 for health and safety breaches

The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers that crashed last year

The accident was described by Judge Michael Chambers QC, as a “catastrophic failure” by Merlin Attractions, over fundamental health and safety measures.

The Judge said that the accident could have easily been avoided if a suitable written health and safety system had been put in place to deal with faults occurring on rides, along with the correct risk assessment.

He went on to say that all sixteen people on the ride at the time of the accident, were “injured to various degrees” and that health and safety failures by the company, had put the safety of thousands of children and young people at risk.

According to the owner of Alton Towers, the number of visitors have remained low since the accident happened last June.

Please click here for more information about our health and safety services.

Health and Safety Executive to prosecute Alton Towers’ owners

Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd will be prosecuted by the HSE following Alton Towers accident

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that it will be taking legal action against the owners of the Alton Towers theme park following the horrific accident which occurred at the Staffordshire site in summer last year.

The HSE announced its decision on February 25 after it had informed Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd of its intention to prosecute the company for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act etc, 1974, which states:

“It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

The accident which left five people seriously injured took place on June 2, 2015, when a carriage full of theme park visitors crashed into a stationary carriage on the ‘Smiler’ rollercoaster ride. Two young women who were sat on the front row of the carriage had to have their legs amputated as a result of the crash.

Health and Safety Executive to prosecute Alton Towers' owners

The ‘Smiler’ ride at Alton Towers

Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd, which also owns Thorpe Park, the London Eye and Madame Tussauds, will appear at North Staffordshire Justice Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme on April 22, 2016.

Following the accident in summer last year, Alton Towers was closed for four days and bosses confirmed a significant decrease in the number of visitors to the theme park when it reopened. Despite this, the group still managed to make a pre-tax profit of 0.3% in 2015.

Neil Craig, head of operations for the Midlands HSE, said: “This was a serious incident with life-changing consequences for five people. We have conducted a very thorough investigation and consider that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”

Please follow this link to find out more about our health and safety services.