Neil Craig, head of operations for HSE in the Midlands, said:
“This was a major incident and members of the public have suffered serious injuries. It meets the criteria for an HSE investigation and our inspectors were at Alton Towers yesterday to begin making inquiries.
“We have assembled a team of specialist inspectors and technical investigators and they will be on site today to continue our investigation.
“Our role is to establish the facts. We will want to determine that those responsible for operating this ride have done what the law requires. We will also ensure that if there are any lessons to be learned they are shared as soon as possible.
“Although the investigation is in its early stages, we will take action to protect the public if we uncover evidence that could affect the safety of other rides at the park or elsewhere.”
Notes to editors:
A number of HSE inspectors have been specially trained to form its National Fairground Inspection Team (NFIT).
The team investigating this incident at Alton Towers is being supported on site by specialists in mechanical engineering, electrics and control systems from HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton, Derbyshire.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places a general duty on those operating rides to ensure that members of the public are not – so far as is reasonably practicable – exposed to risks to their health and safety. Other legislation, including laws requiring annual safety inspections and maintenance of electrical installations, also apply to theme parks.
While HSE is the national regulator, fairground safety involves a range of organisations working together. This includes the ride designers, manufacturers, importers, the bodies who carry out design reviews and thorough examinations, through to the owners, controllers and operators of the rides. Representatives from all of these bodies sit on the Amusement Devices Safety Council (ADSC) and this body sets the safety standards that it requires all of its members to abide by.
All duty holders within the system have responsibilities, and have a duty under health and safety law to build, review, examine, maintain and operate their rides in such a way that the health and safety of their own employees and the general public is not put at risk.
To assist duty holders comply with the law HSE has published the guidance document, Fairgrounds Amusement Parks: Guidance on safe practice (HSG175). http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg175.pdf.
HSE’s National Fairgrounds Inspection Team concentrates on inspecting poor performers in specific areas i.e. particular machines, controllers or ride examiners, with the ultimate objective of improving public safety.
HSE also works nationally with all of the main industry organisations through the HSE chaired Fairgrounds Joint Advisory Committee (FJAC) and the industry governing body the Amusement Devices Safety Council (ADSC), to improve safety.