Children have again been put in extreme danger by the operators of an inflatable slide who showed little regard for health and safety.
JTK Trustee Limited (trading as Fun Solutions) allowed its mammoth slide to become overloaded and collapse at the Whangamatā Summer Festival in December 2020.
The incident sent a dozen people, most of whom were children, falling from heights of up to 12 metres. One victim broke both his ankles and has required 11 surgeries, and is still at home recovering.
JTK Trustee Limited has today been sentenced in the Waihi District Court for its failures.
Witnesses said there were no rules displayed for riding the mammoth slide, no instructions were given, there were also no weight or age checks done, and there were no workers at the top of the slide at the time of its collapse. Afterwards, people who were on the slide were not evacuated effectively or safely.
Expert reports found the slide was electrically unsafe, had air leaks via holes and seams, and poor anchoring.
WorkSafe’s investigation concluded the slide did not comply with required standards, the operators should have had safe systems in place for operating the slide (including what to do in emergencies) and ensured its workers properly supervised and instructed slide users.
WorkSafe has had 11 prior interactions with JTK. In 2015, a mammoth slide became overloaded and collapsed – injuring six children at the Masterton A&P show. The director Eric Gerritsen was fined $115,000 for obstructing WorkSafe’s investigation.
In 2016, a JTK slide collapsed at an event in Hamilton Gardens and 10 children fell about 10 metres. In response, WorkSafe issued a directive letter, and Hamilton City Council later banned the company from operating at the site.
“On top of the latest incident, this company’s safety record is extremely concerning”, says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Paul West.
“When people are on an amusement device, they have an expectation their safety is being looked after by the operator. Most operators in Aotearoa are aware of this expectation and strive to meet it, but this business has had numerous failings which is unacceptable.
“For that reason, WorkSafe expects improvement from the operator and will take further action if necessary,” says Paul West.
Suppliers and operators of devices such as inflatable slides are subject to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. This means they need to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety so far as reasonably practical.
- JTK Trustees Ltd was sentenced at Waihi District Court on 29 August 2022.
- A fine of $350,000 was imposed, along with emotional harm reparations of $40,000 and consequential loss reparations of $12,958.
- JTK Trustees was charged under Sections 36(2), 48(1) and (2)(c) Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of other persons was not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking, namely while riding the land-borne inflatable slide (the Mammoth Slide), and that failure exposed individuals to a risk of death or serious injury from a fall from height.
- The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.