NT: amusement ride operator fined $30,000 over passenger injuries

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Wednesday, 15 December, 2021 - 12:15
Incidents & prosecutions
Northern Territory

An amusement ride operator in the Northern Territory was recently fined a total of $30,000 after an octopus ride malfunctioned and crashed in 2019, injuring two passengers.

Tyrone Troy Taylor entered an early guilty plea to two Category 2 charges under Section 19 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011, for exposing the two injured passengers to a risk of serious injury or death.

Taylor also pleaded guilty to one Category 3 charge, also under Section 19, for putting at risk the health and safety of the other passengers on the ride, which included children, and nearby bystanders.

The Northern Territory Local Court imposed the following penalties: Taylor was fined $10,000; he was ordered to pay the two injured passengers $10,000 each and was ordered to forfeit the Octopus Ride to the Northern Territory for destruction.

The NT WorkSafe investigation into the incident found Taylor had neglected his responsibilities to regularly maintain and test his ride to ensure its ongoing safety.

The Octopus Ride required the following inspections and tests in accordance with Australian Standard 3533.2 – 2009: annual inspections; a major inspection every 10 years; Annual Non-Destructive Testing (NDT).

At the time of the incident, Taylor had not complied with either the annual inspection or NDT requirements, and there was no evidence that the ride had ever undergone a major inspection, even though Taylor took ownership of the second-hand ride in 2003.

Independent reports commissioned by NT WorkSafe found the sweep arms and tension rods of the ride had pre-existing cracks, corrosion and poor welds which compromised the structural integrity of the ride.

Under work health and safety, the term plant includes machinery, equipment, appliances, containers, implements and tools.

The Northern Territory’s Work Health and Safety Regulator Bill Esteves said this incident and successful prosecution was a timely reminder to all Territory businesses who own and operate plant of their duties to make sure regular inspections, maintenance and repairs are carried out to keep their plant in a safe condition.

“Please take stock of the fact that members of our community were seriously injured by this incident,” Esteves said.

“Proactive service, maintenance and inspection schedules are known ways of making sure you don’t miss an issue with your plant which might put, your workers and members of our community at risk.

“It is imperative that large and heavy machinery, which the Octopus Ride was, is safe to use and operate because plant of this kind is capable of causing serious injury or death in the event of structural failure.

“It was well below the acceptable standard for the Octopus Ride to be used when it was unsafe, considering it was mainly operated at family-friendly community events where the primary customers are children,” Esteves said.