Last month South Australian safety regulator Safe Work SA, successfully prosecuted a Queensland based company for breaches of the SA Workplace Health and Safety Act, following the 2014 death of a child at the Adelaide Show on an amusement ride. 

The incident involved a child being ejected from her seat and killed whilst riding the ‘Airmaxx 360’ at the Adelaide Showground.  The ride was owned by a Queensland based company, C J and Sons Amusement.  The company and its Co-Director, Ms Jenny-Lee Sullivan; were notionally fined $157,500 for failing to uphold their duty of care.

Ms Sullivan pleaded guilty to negligence by failing to safely maintain the ride to appropriate standards.  According to news reports, it was proven that the company had knowingly allowed show goers to ride, despite their being previous complaints and injuries from other shows in Melbourne and Sydney.  The operator had also failed to keep appropriate maintenance logs of repairs.

The case was heard in SA’s Industrial Court.  Adelaide Now reported that Magistrate Michael Ardlie had commented that the company was insolvent with debts of almost $1 million since the tragedy. As such the defendants had little prospect of paying the penalty or compensation.  The Court ordered a payment of $20,000 compensation however given their financial circumstances, they were only required to pay a crime levy of $420 each.  It was however reported that the child’s mother received a significant compensation payment from the Show’s liability insurer.

Public venues and event organisers hosting amusement rides on their site, need to be aware of the due diligence obligations required under Local Health and Safety Laws to ensure they are upholding their due diligence.  This article is not suggesting that any such failure occurred with the Adelaide Showground. 

Work Health and Safety Regulations and Australian Standards cover the use of amusement devices.  Australian Standard AS 3533.2 – sets out the key requirements to register, maintain and operate the devices.   Due diligence of amusement operators requires that they check to assure that the operator can demonstrate conformance to these Standards and compliance requirements.