The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that it will be taking steps to prosecute Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd following an incident in which five people were seriously injured on a rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers in Staffordshire on 2 June 2015. Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd is the company responsible for Alton Towers and, under health and safety law, is responsible for managing the risks associated with the operation of the theme park’s rides.
The accident occurred when two rollercoaster carriages collided while carrying passengers on the ride. Up to 16 people subsequently required medical treatment with five suffering serious ‘life-changing’ injuries. Two of the passengers went on to undergo amputations as a result of their injuries.
Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd is alleged to have breached Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
Charlene McAuliffe, associate in the Penningtons Manches personal injury team, comments: “We are currently acting for victims of this incident and the psychological trauma which they have suffered continues to affect their day-to-day life. We acknowledge that accidents of this type are rare but, when they do occur, they can be very traumatic and result in serious injury. The public places an immense amount of trust in the operators of these theme parks and it is important that, where failings have occurred, those responsible are held accountable to ensure that such devastating incidents do not happen again."
Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd will appear at North Staffordshire Justice Centre, Newcastle-under-Lyme on 22 April 2016 to face a charge.