A FUNFAIR ride manufacturing company, its director and two ride assessors have been sentenced after a catalogue of errors led to a teenage rider being ejected from a new extreme ride at a festival.
Perrin Stevens Ltd, of Fitzherbert Road, Farlington, the manufacturer of the ride, director Perrin Stevens and ride examiners Dr Martyn Lacey and Mr Frederick Meakin, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Cambridge Crown Court.
The executive started its investigation when a 14-year-old was seriously injured at the Sonisphere music festival at Knebworth Park in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in August 2009.
As he was riding the Orbitor Extreme ride, which was only on its third outing after being handed over from the manufacturer to its new owner, the student suddenly came free from the ride’s car harness and was propelled through the steel perimeter fence panels.
The young rider suffered life-threatening injuries including a torn aorta, broken ribs and shoulder, and a shattered ankle.
He had to be treated by emergency services and was in hospital for a week.
Inspectors told the court that their investigation uncovered a number of serious defects which were not picked up at any of the ride’s design, testing or sign-off stages – all of which are required by law.
Crucially, that included the failure to make an adequate analysis that the restraint system was of suitable dimensions to hold typical riders.
In addition, numerous discrepancies in the documentation resulted on what the HSE has called a ‘completely unsafe ride’.
Perrin Stevens, of Kimbers Lane Farm, Oakley Green Road, Windsor, Berkshire, as sole director of Perrin Stevens Ltd, was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000 after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety laws.
Perrin Stevens Ltd was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000 after pleading guilty to the same offence.
Lacey, of Main Road, Gedling, Nottingham, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000.
Meakin, of Five Counties Caravan Park, Stretton Road, Greetham, Rutland, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000 after pleading guilty.
Following the case, HSE inspector Stephen Manley said: ‘The outcome was a very serious but entirely preventable incident which could easily have cost a young teenager his life.’