In October 2018, a gondola on a drop tower amusement ride detached from the catch-car above it during maintenance. The catch-car lifts the gondola in place to allow workers to carry out inspections of the ride. On this ride, a detent pin (a type of retaining pin also known as a quick release ball lock pin) is used to prevent the inadvertent release of the gondola. Workers insert the detent pin in the catch-car through a hole in the bottom of the catch-car.
Four workers were preparing to lower a pulley block to the ground using ropes. As the worker in the plant room was lowering a tag line down to the workers in the catch-car, the gondola suddenly released from the catch-car and dropped down to ground level. The catch-car remained in position and no injuries were sustained. Investigations are continuing.
Preventing a similar incident
A safety pin or backup support is an administrative control measure which relies on the worker to correctly install before starting work or entering a hazardous area. Owners of amusement rides relying on administrative control measures should consult their engineer to review and if necessary change their work procedures, equipment used or ride design to minimise the risk of injury to workers. Ensure:
- all safety pins and backup supports have been correctly installed
- workers have an unobstructed view when installing the safety pin or backup support
- workers are able to confirm (e.g. by visual confirmation) that all safety pins and backup supports have been correctly installed before commencing work
- the safety pin or backup support is securely held in the engaged position for the duration of the work task—the preference is to have a mechanism which automatically (e.g. automatic latching mechanism) engages and holds the safety pin or backup support in position once it has been correctly installed
- rides are maintained, inspected and if necessary tested by a competent person in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions or instructions prepared by a competent person
- all components of the ride are inspected regularly to ensure they are within the wear tolerance specified by the ride manufacturer
- any ride faults or repairs should be documented in the ride log book.
Since October 2016, we have completed 659 assessments of general amusement devices, shows, fetes, carnivals and the Ekka and 387 at the six major theme parks. We issued 14 statutory notices for issues with general amusement devices and at shows, fetes, carnivals and the Ekka, and 31 at the six major theme parks.
Prosecutions and compliance
In 2017 an amusement ride operator was fined $80,000 after a worker was fatally crushed by an amusement ride. The operator had no training on the particular ride and was told to climb the ride to remove bolts from the centre pole. As he removed the last of the bolts, the centre pole dropped and he was trapped by the pole and the chains attached to it. Despite attempts to remove the centre pole and chains, he died at the scene.
In 2015 a ride attendant was given a 12 month good behaviour bond with a recognisance of $2500 when he allowed a five year old boy who was 108 cm tall to ride on the amusement device. The boy was first told that he was not allowed on the ride as he was not tall enough. He was subsequently allowed onto the ride when in the company of his eight year old friend. While the ride was in operation, the five year old boy came out of his seat and was thrown through the air. He landed on the ground after hitting another piece of equipment, sustaining serious head injuries.
- AS 3533.2-2009 Amusement rides and devices Operation and maintenance
- SafeWork Australia - Workplace amusement devices guidance material
- SafeWork Australia - Information Sheet – Amusement devices annual inspection
- Managing risks of plant in the workplace code of practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB)
- WHS Regulators' National Audit Tool for Amusement Devices (PDF, 0.29 MB)