HSE International

Health and safety obligations for retailers

Retailers are expected to protect anyone who enters their premises from harm, by removing or controlling risks to employees, volunteers, contractors or members of the public. 

This guide was last updated in June 2015

Any employer has to ensure the health and safety of employees while they are at work, and of any third parties affected by their business, which includes visitors to a retail unit such as members of the public, volunteers and contractors, by taking all “reasonably practicable” steps to guard against any “reasonably foreseeable” risks.

Regular and carefully considered risk assessments are needed to identify these risks and allow employers, which will include retail businesses in this guide, to put the necessary measures in place to eliminate them – or mitigate them as far as possible.

Risk assessment

Risk assessment is the cornerstone to effective health and safety management. It should cover all significant hazards (anything that could cause harm) and risks, whether specifically covered by legislation or not.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises a five-step approach to risk assessment:

  1. Identify hazards by determining how people can be harmed;
  2. Decide who might be harmed, and how – identify categories or groups of individuals with particular responsibilities or requirements;
  3. Evaluate these risks and decide on precautions. A risk or hazard should be removed, if possible. If this is not possible, steps should be taken to control or minimise the risk of any harm;
  4. Record and implement your findings; and
  5. Review and update the risk assessment.

More information on is available in the HSE guidance on risk assessment (5 page / 226KB PDF)

Only organisations with more than five employees must document this risk assessment, but it is good practice for any business to document the significant findings. This will provide valuable evidence of risk assessment procedures for any potential future investigation, and can also be shared with employees and other parties to give details of risks and measures to be followed.

Employees should be involved as much as possible in carrying out the risk assessments, to increase their understanding and involvement in the process.

The HSE has produced an online tool specifically for risk assessment in retail units.

Other requirements

Employers must ensure that:

  • employees are provided with health checks appropriate to the risks that they face;
  • one or more “competent” people are appointed to help comply with health and safety regulations;
  • employees have access to emergency contact information;
  • employers cooperate and coordinate on health and safety issues with any third party sharing the workplace;
  • adequate training is provided, and the capabilities of employees assessed, before they are asked to undertake any task;
  • an HSE-approved poster is displayed on the premises, and employees are given an approved HSE booklet; and
  • appropriate first-aid arrangements are in place.

Reporting

A retail business must immediately notify the relevant local authority of any work-related deaths, plus certain work-related injuries, diseases or near misses involving employees “by the most practicable means”, followed by a report within 10 days. Certain injuries to members of the public and self-employed people must also be reported. Each local authority is likely to give details of how to submit a notification and report on its own website.

Keeping within the law

Failure to comply with health and safety laws is a criminal offence. However, if an employer can demonstrate that it took all reasonably practicable steps to guard against relevant risks, based on quality risk assessment, and can show that adopting any further measures against a particular risk would have been unreasonable in terms of time, money and effort, a court is likely to find that no offence has been committed.

Fire safety

Fire safety is not included directly in the main health and safety legislation, but is of course relevant to the safety of employees and third parties.

Any employer or person who owns, controls or manages premises must take reasonable steps to reduce risk from fire and ensure that people can safely escape.

Again, a risk assessment must be carried out, to identify risks and implement measures to prevent or reduce the risk from fire. This can be done as part of the general health and safety risk assessment.

Fire precautions include:

  • measures to reduce the risk of fire and of the spread of fire;
  • a means of escape and an assembly point, with signage if needed;
  • provision of fire extinguishers;
  • measures to detect fire and give warning;
  • training for employees on precautions and the use of fire extinguishers;
  • at least one “no smoking” sign on display.

Insurance

A retail business must have insurance against liability for bodily injury or disease sustained by employees at work.

Public liability insurance is not legally required, but should be considered. This covers the cost of legal action and compensation claims by members of the public for injury or illness, or loss of or damage to property, incurred in the retail unit.

Construction work

If construction work is needed, new legal requirements covering site management and safety came into force in April 2015. The regulations give ‘clients’, meaning anyone for whom a construction project is carried out, a greater role while the work is carried out.

As a commercial firm, you must appoint a principal designer and principal contractor whenever any work involves more than one contractor – even where the work involved is very limited and over quickly. The scope of ‘construction work’ under the regulations is wide, covering everything from major infrastructure projects like HS2 to installing a new office shower. Those who get it wrong may face prosecution, with the potential for unlimited fines and even, in the case of individuals, imprisonment if convicted.

Civil liability

A breach of the health and safety laws does not in itself allow an injured party to claim for damages, but a retail business would be liable if:

  • a reasonable duty of care was owed to the injured party;
  • the duty of care was breached by an act amounting to negligence; and
  • the breach caused loss to the injured party.

For a claim to succeed, it would have to be shown that the loss came about as a result of the retail business’s failure to take reasonable care.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1QsYjbc

 

Alton Towers rollercoaster ride evacuated a week after crash

Parents and children were evacuated from a ride at Alton Towers after a malfunction occurred a week after a rollercoaster crash in which five people suffered serious injuries. The incident on Wednesday involved the Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure inside a zone of the park built around the CBeebies brand of television programming for young children.

The evacuation, during which harnesses were used to clip passengers to a railing as they descended steps, was carried out after a fault caused the ride to halt and someone who was on board became agitated.

The park said in a statement: “On 10 June, an incident occurred when, for unknown reasons, a guest became agitated on the Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure. In line with standard procedures, this led to the ride being evacuated. Alton Towers resort staff followed all normal processes to ensure guests were taken off the ride quickly and safely.”

It is understood from sources close to the park that standard procedure would allow for the ride to be reset in circumstances where it had come to a halt. However, the decision to evacuate was taken after a passenger became agitated.

A visitor to the park who contacted the Guardian after witnessing part of Wednesday’s incident said he sensed that something was wrong when he heard children shouting. “I glanced over and noticed a guy with safety harnesses on,” he said. “I was on another ride at that point. When I got off, they were taking people off the Octonauts ride. At that point, Alton Towers operatives with helmets and harnesses on were involved. There was a lady next to me whose son was really distressed and she was shouting up to him to stay calm and that everything would be all right.

“My wife and I just decided to leave the park at that point with our children. They did absolutely nothing to stop the children and parents going into that part of the park to witness what was going on. On the way out, we went into the guest services bit of the park, where I asked if it was possible to speak to somebody about the incident. I was told they could do a customer feedback questionnaire. I said: ‘Are you being serious?’”

A teenage girl whose left leg was amputated after last week’s rollercoaster crash was kept alive on a machine in intensive care when she was first brought to hospital, her brother said on Wednesday. Leah Washington, 17, is now standing up and making “a rapid recovery” despite undergoing surgery at the weekend to amputate her leg above the knee, her brother Luke told the BBC.

The teenager also fractured her hand on the Smiler ride and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Joe Pugh, was treated for two broken knees and extensive hand injuries, after the carriage they were riding in ploughed into another, which was empty.

Merlin Entertainments, which owns Alton Towers, is understood to be preparing substantial payouts for the 16 victims of last Tuesday’s crash and the victims’ lawyers are due to meet Merlin’s insurers this week after the theme park operator admitted full responsibility.

Speaking on BBC West Midlands, Leah’s brother said: “She was in intensive care, so she had machines keeping her going. It was only the day after they took her off that and she was back to breathing on her own.”

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1dyyzIo

BIFM Press Release: ISO 41000 to be new International Management System Standard for Facilities Management

A new international standard for facilities management has been formally approved to proceed into development by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) following a poll of its 159 member organisations earlier this year. ISO 41000 will be a ‘Management System Standard’ for Facilities Management and the committee meet last week in Glasgow, UK.

 

As a strategic tool and set of guidelines, the standard will set out an accredited structure and framework as well as formal organisational processes along with the need for key skills and competencies. The standard will provide appropriate guidance in a similar manner as the Quality, Occupational Safety and Health and Environmental Management System Standards that already exist.

 

Additional countries have confirmed their participation in developing the standard along with the existing 20 countries who already are participating members of the ISO TC 267 Facilities Management Committee.  Participation is open to all countries who are members of ISO. It is expected that the standard will take about three years to define and ratify with the first meeting took place last week in the UK.  

 

British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) representative, Stan Mitchell, is also chair of the British Standards Institute (BSI) FMW/1 facilities management committee and will chair the ISO TC 267 Committee which will oversee the development of the standard. The BIFM has interviewed Stan Mitchell to explore what the new standard will mean for facilities management, watch the interview here. Mr Mitchell said: “With its own Management System Standard, FM will finally emerge as the professional discipline it is. FM practitioners require a rare mix of specialist technical skills, rounded business understanding and general management expertise. We are now in a position to provide consistency for the profession internationally and to provide a framework for standards on a worldwide scale.”

 

Gareth Tancred, CEO, BIFM said: “ISO 41000 is a significant step forward for the FM industry and will deepen its commitment to continuous assessment and improvement. The new standard will provide global consistency to the delivery of FM services and help to harmonise their specification and management. The economic and social benefits of this new standard will be considerable in terms of the raising of standards of our facilities and services globally ensuring we reach even higher levels of efficiency.”

 

Separately, two technical standards for facilities management are in their final stages of development.  ISO 18480-1 and ISO 18480-2 provide an international framework for facilities management terms and conditions, strategic sourcing and the development of supplier agreements between service providers and their customers.

 

About BIFM

 

The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) is the professional body for facilities management. Founded in 1993, it promotes excellence in facilities management for the benefit of practitioners, the economy and society. Supporting and representing over 15,500 members around the world, both individual FM professionals and organisations, and thousands more through qualifications and training.

 

For more information visit www.bifm.org.uk, telephone +44 (0)1279 712 620 or email info@bifm.org.uk.

Agriculture firm fined after two workers injured by reversing vehicles

AB Agri Limited has been fined after two people were injured when they were struck by a reversing heavy goods vehicle at the company’s Northallerton site.

Michael Armitage and Simon Manock were not directly employed by the company but were visiting the site undertaking plant installation work when the incident happened on 24 February 2014.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today (9 June) prosecuted AB Agri Limited at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court for serious safety failings after an investigation into the incident.

The court heard that there was no suitable risk assessment in place to ensure that pedestrians and vehicles did not come into contact with each other and that as a result there was no agreed safe system of work.

Mr Manock was less seriously injured, sustaining minor cuts and bruising. Mr Armitage however was knocked to the ground and run over by the rear wheels of the trailer. He suffered serious and multiple injuries to his arms torso and pelvis, requiring several bouts of surgery as a result.

AB Agri Ltd, of Grosvenor Street, London, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £1239 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Geoff Fletcher, said:

“This incident could have been easily prevented if AB Agri Ltd had put in place a safe system for preventing pedestrians and equipment from coming into contact with each other.

“The potential for collision and injury is well known within industry and is easily preventable through appropriate methods of segregation, such as physical barriers and non-pedestrian zones, especially where vehicles reverse routinely, and adequate instruction and supervision of drivers and pedestrians.

“Instead, the firm’s failures mean that two workers we able access an area where there was a high degree of risk and they have sustained injuries. This could easily have had tragic consequences.”

For more health and safety advice about safer workplace transport visit:http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg136.htm

Original Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2015/agriculture-firm-fined-after-two-workers-injured-by-reversing-vehicles/?

Poundstretcher fined £50k after worker loses five toes in accident

Discount retailer Poundstretcher has been fined £50,000 for a health and safety breach after one of its employees lost all his toes on one foot in an accident at their distribution centre in Huddersfield.

Leeds Crown Court heard Antoni Borek, 62, from Poland, was working in their 300,000 square feet warehouse on the Trident Business Park in Deighton on March 11 last year when a fork lift truck driver ran over his right foot.

Mr Borek had got out of the truck he had been driving, to retrieve some items from the shelves prior to the accident.

He was wearing protective shoes but the weight of the pallet truck “turned the metal toe cap on his shoe into a blade shearing off five toes,” Miles Barker prosecuting told the court.

The company had a safety system which required that when approaching a crossroads or when there was a pedestrian in the aisle a driver must stop two bays away, sound his horn three times and get consent from that person before proceeding.

But the driver involved explained although he had seen Mr Borek at the side of the aisle he thought it was safe to proceed and had looked down for a second at his watch to check the time and did not see him begin to cross the aisle.

The huge Poundstretcher depot in Leeds Road, Deighton

Mr Barker said while the accident was due to an individual’s error the company had failed to ensure their safety system was being adequately implemented and enforced allowing an “ethos to develop where employees ignored the safe system of working.”

The company had also not supplied Mr Borek with protective footwear or checked that his own shoes were adequate but it was not suggested that would have made a difference in this case.

Simon Bickler QC representing the company said there was an adequate safety system in place but it was accepted there had been a failure to police them on the floor, making sure that people understood the importance of compliance.

“Now there is zero tolerance of any breaches.”

The company admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and in addition to the fine was ordered to pay £8,138.88 costs.

The Recorder of Leeds Judge Peter Collier QC said the injury had been “profoundly life changing” for Mr Borek.

“He was looking forward to retiring but says after the accident he has felt like a prisoner in his own home.”

In a victim personal statement he described not being able to go out for a walk or play football with his grandchildren.He was in a lot of pain and had been told by doctors that would continue for for approximately two years. Although he may drive again it will not be for several years.

At that time he was on sick leave and having to travel by expensive taxis borrowing from his son for essentials. He is still employed by Poundstretcher who have accepted civil liability in his case.

The judge said the company’s fault was allowing an atmosphere to develop where their safety police was “not kept uppermost in the minds of its employees and was not enforced.”

“The prosecution accept that since the accident there has been a change in the company’s approach and that what was wrong has been put right.

“I accept that this was a case of a lackadaisical approach by the management rather than one of making money by cutting corners.”

“Nevertheless the risk of injury is as great for whichever reason the company permits the development of the ethos that they did here.”

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1GdlbmV

Alton Towers to partially reopen as litigation over rollercoaster crash begins

Alton Towers is to reopen on Monday following the rollercoaster crash that has prompted calls for heightened safety reviews at all UK theme parks ahead of the busy summer season.

The site’s owner Merlin Entertainments has closed down three rollercoasters at two other amusement parks as it deals with the fallout from last Tuesday’s collision, which left four people seriously injured.

Dr Tony Cox, a former Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advisory committee chairman, said there needed to be a review of practice at amusement parks after the worst accident in Alton Towers’ 35-year history.

“I would be amazed if [theme park owners] weren’t using their industry contacts to find out what had happened as far as they possibly can,” he said.

The park will reopen at 10am although the £18m Smiler ride will be closed “for the foreseeable future” on the orders of the HSE, which on Friday moved the two carriages involved in the crash to its laboratory in Buxton, Derbyshire, for further investigation.

Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, said: “The accident last Tuesday was a terrible event for everyone involved. We are very aware of the impact it will have on those involved and we are doing all we can to provide our support to those injured and their families.

“We closed the park immediately whilst preliminary investigations took place and to give our staff time to come to terms with the accident and its aftermath. In recent days our management team have been engaged in a thorough review of our operating and safety procedures before making this decision.

“Alton Towers has a long record of safe operation and as we reopen, we are committed to ensuring that the public can again visit us with confidence.”

A spokesman for the park said that said that X-Sector, the high-octane section of that park where the Smiler is based, would remain closed until further notice. Another ride, Spinball, will stay closed until “enhanced safety protocols” are introduced, the theme park said.

This week Alton Towers’s legal team are due to meet lawyers acting for student Victoria Balch, 20, who underwent surgery at the weekend after sustaining serious leg injuries in the 20mph collision.

Paul Paxton, a partner at Stewarts Law, said he would be claiming substantial damages to help Balch recover from her potentially life-changing injuries. A spokeswoman for the law firm said on Sunday that they were “keen to get discussions on the go as soon as possible”, but no date had yet been set for the meeting.

Merlin Entertainments, which has already lost a reported £3m since closing its doors last Tuesday, could face a hefty legal bill over the accident, which came as millions of thrill-seekers planned to visit theme parks over the busy summer holiday season.

Cox, the former HSE advisory committee chairman, said the full details of what caused the crash may only be known once litigation begins. However, he said other major UK theme parks would be examining the case and considering reviewing their own safety protocols.

Asked whether there should be an industry-wide safety review, he said: “Certainly, there does. Anyone who is operating rides like that [the Smiler], they know each other as rivals and competitors and they know each other from their participation in various sector-related bodies that deal with all aspects of that business, including safety. Within those circles, there will be huge interest from all of them about what has happened [at Alton Towers],” he said.

“If you haven’t had the accident yourself, you want all that information and you’re going to make sure you’ve dealt with it. But you’re not going to go out there and raise your head above the parapet and say anything – you’re not under any obligation to do so. You can’t assume from that that they are not doing anything.

“I would be amazed if they weren’t using their industry contacts to find out what had happened as far as they possibly can. They can just call HSE and say, ‘Is there anything we need to know?’ and HSE will … make sure the whole industry knows. That’s part of their role. It’s unthinkable that they wouldn’t do that.”

The Saw ride at Thorpe Park in Surrey and the Dragon’s Fury and Rattlesnake rollercoasters at Chessington World of Adventures, also in Surrey, have also been shut down by Merlin Entertainments, which owns all three parks.

There have been 32 recorded accidents over three years at Alton Towers, it emerged on Saturday, from a guest being rushed to hospital after hearing her “neck crack” on the 60mph Rita ride to an employee falling into a water trough. The incidents were disclosed by the HSE in response to a freedom of information request by the Birmingham Evening Mail.

Drayton Manor theme park, which is also located in Staffordshire, defended its safety procedures and said its rides underwent a “rigorous” daily inspection. “The health and safety of our visitors is of paramount importance,” said David Bromilow, Drayton Manor’s operations manager.

“All of our rides comply with health and safety requirements for safe operation, maintenance and inspection processes. In addition, each ride has specific risk assessments to ensure that these processes are current.”

He added: “As well as the daily assessment and testing, all rides are verified regularly by independent inspectors in compliance with the HSE guidelines for safe operation.

“As an industry, we have an enviable health and safety record in the UK and it is standard practice to be meticulous where testing is concerned.”

The International Association of Amusement Parks (IAAPA) suggests that the odds of sustaining an injury at theme park is one in 9 million.

 Original Source: http://bit.ly/1dpNK6I

 

More than 1 in 5 UK workplaces are “bad for worker’s health”

Work is having a negative impact on people’s health and well-being, with 1 in 5 workplaces being ‘bad for worker’s health’, a study has found.

The study of 2,000 full and part time UK workers conducted by One4All Rewards, highlights the importance of employers making a conscious effort to look after the welfare of their workers.

In the past year, 11 per cent of employees said that they had become ill as a direct result of their work. Twice that number said that they regularly suffer from high levels of stress due to work pressures. And 17 per cent admitted that they often had problems sleeping as a result of their jobs.

As a result, a significant proportion (23 per cent confessed that they were underperforming in their work. When asked to estimate what impact a more positive environment would have on their performance, 22 per cent estimated that their output would improve by over 10 per cent.

Worryingly, only 6 per cent of workers felt that work actually had a positive impact on their health and wellbeing, indicating how few UK employees find work a positive and enjoyable experience.

Declan Byrne, managing director of One4all Rewards, comments, “These are worrying findings for everyone.  Not only are many workers feeling increasingly stretched and unhappy, but their employers are also losing out as stressed-out workers significantly underperform.

“Recent studies have shown how 80 per cent of white collar workers in the UK currently work over 40 hours per week and also that developments in technology mean that it is getting harder and harder to switch off when not in the office.

“This report indicates the importance employers should be placing on ‘Workplace Wellness’ – not only out of a sense of corporate responsibility, but also as a way to boost productivity and give them a competitive edge when recruiting and retaining the best staff.”

Workers in London are the worst affected according to the research, with 33 per cent admitting that their work is suffering as they are (compared to the national average of 23%).

Those workers most likely to be in relatively junior positions (those aged between 25 and 35), are also feeling the pressure, with 30% admitting their performance was below par.

 Meanwhile the worst affected sectors are IT, PR and Marketing, with 37 per cent of workers reporting reduced productivity as a result of poor health or stress.

Byrne continues, “In order to create more positive working environments, businesses need to consider how they can incentivise better behaviours.  Putting out the right messages about working habits and rewarding people with health-enhancing benefits, such as fitness activities, duvet days and creating the right facilities in the office can make commercial sense as well as being good corporate behaviour.”

Original Source: http://www.shponline.co.uk/1-5-uk-workplaces-bad-workers-health/?

Hugo Boss admits breaches after death of four-year-old

Austen Harrison, had been playing with the 120kg unfixed steel-framed fitting-room mirror at the designer shop at the Bicester Village outlet. The mirror…

Alton Towers closed after Smiler rollercoaster crash

Alton Towers has been closed while an investigation continues into a “dreadful” rollercoaster accident that left four people with serious injuries.

Two carriages crashed on the Smiler ride at the Staffordshire theme park on Tuesday, leaving some passengers trapped for four-and-a-half hours.

Two men, aged 27 and 18, a woman aged 19 and a girl, 17, suffered serious leg injuries in the crash.

One patient has since been discharged from hospital.

BBC correspondent Danny Savage said it was understood of them had sustained “life-changing injuries”.

Another 12 people – six men and six women – required medical treatment as a result of the accident.

How safe are rollercoasters?

They included a man in his 20s, who suffered neck and abdominal injuries.

The four people who suffered serious injuries were airlifted to major trauma centres after the 16 occupants were rescued from 25ft (7.6m) up in the air at an angle of about 45 degrees.

The ordeal for some of the occupants lasted more than four hours, with the evacuation not complete until 18:35 – more than four hours after the accident.

Visitors to Alton Towers reported on social media that the ride had broken down earlier in the day.

‘Should not have happened’

Asked whether human error could have been a factor in what happened, Nick Varney, chief executive of the park’s owners Merlin Entertainments, said it was too early to tell.

“Our business is about giving people memorable experiences with the emphasis on safety and yesterday something dreadful happened,” he said.

“Those two cars should not have been on the same piece of track. Technically that should not have happened.

“There are braking locks that should stop two cars being on the same section of track and somehow that didn’t work the way it was meant to.”

Mr Varney said he could not say when the park would reopen.

Earlier he said: “I would like to express my sincerest regret and apology to everyone who suffered injury and distress and to their families.

“The safety of our visitors is our primary concern. The park will remain closed until we understand better the cause of this dreadful incident.”

He praised “outstanding” emergency services for their “swift and effective response” to the crash, which happened at about 14:00 when two carriages collided on a low section of track.

Mr Varney said a full investigation was under way and Alton Towers was continuing to work with the emergency services and the Health and Safety Executive.

People at the theme park reported hearing “a loud crash” when the collision happened.

Speaking about those who suffered the worst injuries, a West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “All four were given advanced trauma care, pain relief and immobilisation and were each carefully extricated from the ride and on to the platform before being lowered to the ground.

“The 27-year-old male was then airlifted to University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire whilst the others were flown to Royal Stoke University Hospital for further emergency treatment.”

She said the remaining 12 occupants were released one at a time over four hours and lowered to the ground in order for a further assessment of their condition.

“One of the 12, a male in his 20s was treated for neck and abdominal injury and was taken to the Royal Stoke University Hospital by land ambulance for further assessment and treatment,” she said.

The £18m rollercoaster, which boasts a world record 14 loops, has been closed on two occasions because of safety concerns since opening two years ago.

Asked about previous problems with the ride, Mr Varney said he thought there was “an awful lot of misreporting going on about that”.

“Guest safety on those sorts of incidents is not really a major issue in the sense that when you are on a rollercoaster car, the car can’t come off the track. When you have a glitch and the ride stops, it’s not really an issue of safety to the riders,” he said.

Customers with tickets for Wednesday can change them to another day or request a refund through the website.

Asked about the closure, Mr Varney said the park would take “a more measured view of what’s going on and whether it was specific to just the Smiler and then take a view about opening Alton Towers.”

Following the accident, Merlin Entertainments was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, with its shares down 3%.

The firm, based in Poole, Dorset, has run Alton Towers since buying out previous owner the Tussauds Group in May 2007.

Original Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-32987550

Alton Towers Smiler crash: Four seriously hurt

Four people have been seriously hurt in a crash between two carriages on a rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers.

Sixteen people were in one carriage of the Smiler ride; the other was empty.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said two men, aged 18 and 27, and two women, aged 19 and 17, suffered “significant lower limb injuries”. They were airlifted to trauma centres in Stoke and Coventry for treatment.

Alton Towers said all guests involved were evacuated by 18:35 BST.

A director described it as “the most serious incident” in the park’s history.

The passengers were trapped for several hours on the ride, about 25ft (7.6m) above the ground.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing “a loud crash” when the crash happened at 14:09.

Ben Richardson said: “When the second carriage crashed people were screaming and shouting – even after it stopped. Everyone around the park ran over.

“The people looked significantly distressed. It was almost like a car crash, very full-on.”

Rescue under way

Alton Towers said first responders based at the park were on the scene “within minutes”, quickly followed by the emergency services.

Hospital trauma team consultants were also brought in to help treat passengers.

Alton Towers has said the park will be closed on Wednesday “following the dreadful incident on The Smiler”.

In a statement the theme park said: “All guests with pre-booked tickets, or those who arrive at the theme park, will have the choice of either having their tickets revalidated for an alternative date or a full refund.”

Sophie Underwood, who was in the park at the time of the crash, said: “It wasn’t very high but it was obviously high enough for them to cause some quite serious injuries to the people that were on the rollercoaster.

“They literally had come back off and round the back of a loop, and straight into another empty coach that had been stuck.”

The Smiler opened in May 2013 and is billed as the world’s first 14-loop rollercoaster.

It holds the official Guinness World Record for most loops in a rollercoaster, according to the Alton Towers website.

The resort claims it features “a series of twisted psychological effects including optical illusions, blinding lights and near misses designed to mess with your mind”.

There have been several accidents and incidents involving the £18m ride since it opened in May 2013.

History of problems

‘Loud crash’

Ellis Dyson, 23, who was in the queue for the ride, added: “The ride was delayed because of a technical fault for a while and then the ride came back on.

“They sent a carriage without any people on it first and then sent a carriage with people on and that was the one that crashed. The platform of the ride where we were vibrated and a massive loud crash.”

Visitors reported on social media that the ride had broken down earlier in the day.

Lucy Farrugia said: “Smiler broke down when I was on it this morning and now it’s crashed. Hope everyone on it is OK, saw the air ambulance arrive.”

Merlin Entertainments said there would be a “full investigation” and the Health and Safety Executive were already on site.

Ian Crabbe, divisional director at Alton Towers said the whole team at the park was “devastated” by the incident.

“Our thoughts and main concerns and focus are with injured people and the 16 people that were stuck on the train and their immediate families. That is our major concern,” he said.

Merlin Entertainments was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 after the crash, with shares down 3%.

It is the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator behind Disney and runs 105 attractions, 11 hotels and three holiday villages in 23 countries.

A help-line for concerned relatives has been set up by the Park which is 0800 230 0770.

 

Alton Towers

Alton Towers is located near the village of Alton in Staffordshire and used to be a country estate.

It originally became a tourist attraction because of its gardens, but travelling fun fair rides were added to the grounds in the 1950s.

The installation of the Corkscrew rollercoaster in 1980 is regarded as a key point in the development of Alton Towers into a major theme park.

It now has some of the UK’s best known rollercoasters – including Nemesis, Oblivion, Air and Rita – and attracts millions of visitors every year.

Original Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32980354

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