HSE inspector says health and safety at amusement parks is “actually pretty good”
Health and safety procedures at theme parks have been firmly in the limelight since last year’s appalling accident when five thrill-seekers were seriously injured on Alton Tower’s most recent rollercoaster investment, The Smiler, which cost £18m to build.
Since the high-profile accident in June 2015, even minor incidents at theme parks have made it into the news, as people across the globe began to doubt the health and safety practices at amusement parks and to question how a world leader in rollercoaster technology could allow such an incident to happen.
Merlin Attractions, owner of the Alton Towers attraction park, confirmed a 25% drop in the number of visitors at the park throughout the remainder of 2015, resulting in a 12.4% revenue loss.
However, according to Melvin Sandell, an inspector at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the health and safety record at nationwide amusement parks is “actually pretty good”, with only 35 incidents reported each year which require hospital attention.
The HSE is now collaborating with the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions and the Health and Safety Laboratory to ensure the security management systems of member amusement parks are capable of preventing the ‘catastrophic accidents’ that can occur on the ‘big machines’ at major UK theme parks.
Theme park management must ensure the correct training of employees, as the HSE investigation into the Alton Towers’ accident revealed it was “human error” and a “manual override” which caused the incident.
Mr Sandell said that new rollercoaster technologies, including wi-fi connected systems and an “individualised” system for components, are the way forward for improving safety at theme parks.
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