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Tuesday, November 27, 2007 4:39:27 PM
£95k fine for Southport Pleasureland death
Nov 27 2007 EXCLUSIVE
AN AMUSEMENT park operator has been hit with a £145,000 bill after a court heard the death of a ride work who died after being dragged into machinery could have been avoided.
Pleasureland Ltd, the former operators of the now defunct Pleasureland attraction in Marine Drive, Southport, was fined £95,000 and ordered to pay £50,0000 costs at Liverpool Crown Court after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety etc Act 1974 and Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The Health and Safety Executive action came after the August 2004 death of William Birchall, 59, who was killed when he was dragged into the mechanism of the Skyride.
His inquest in 2006 heard that workers like him were put in a “catch 22” situation, where they either had to clip a harness onto dangerous machinery or risk falling 10m to their deaths.
Mr Birchall, from St Helens, was greasing machinery on the ski lift-style ride when the accident happened.
Climbing a 10m tower, he attached his harness to one of the ride’s two “bull wheels”, which turn the cables carrying passenger cars.
His harness pulled his arm inside the machinery and he became trapped. He suffered a heart attack and died at the scene.
The Liverpool Crown Court hearing heard that when he started to get into difficulty and needed the ride to be immediately stopped, he was unable to contact his colleague at the controls 200 metres away because his radio was out of reach.
HSE Inspector Charles Cottle said: “This was a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided had the correct procedures been in place. This case graphically illustrates that companies should ensure that safe working systems are in place for the safety of all their employees.
"Managers should ask themselves three questions - Do you know where maintenance staff go to do their work? What do they do when they get there? Are they safe while they are doing it?
With answers to these questions, companies are able to carry out a suitable assessment of the risk and put in place safe procedures for carrying out maintenance work. After the accident a much improved access was provided for the maintenance of the ride, an automatic lubrication system was installed and a fixed telephone provided to improve communications. Had these measures already been in place, they would have vastly reduced the risk of accident.“
The Pleasureland amusement park has subsequently closed. Any fairground now on the former site has no connection with Pleasureland Ltd, or with the parent group Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Holdings) Ltd.