The owner and inspector of a faulty Black Country fairground ride have been convicted of health and safety breaches after two women needed hospital treatment after being flung from it.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought a prosecution against both the owner and the inspector of the Orbiter ride at Moxley Park Fairground, in Bilston, for breaching health and safety regulations.
Wolverhampton Magistrates Court heard how Jessica Oseland and Alison Foxall were on the 27-year-old revolving ride in May 2006 when the incident happened.
Ms Foxall suffered head, neck and back injuries, but was released from hospital soon after the incident. However, Ms Oseland received severe spinal injuries and spent months recovering at a specialist centre, before moving to a specially adapted house.
Thomas Denzil Jones, of Cradley Heath, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. He was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs.
Fairground Inspection Services, the company tasked with carrying out safety tests on the ride, was ordered to pay £35,000 compensation to Ms Oseland after pleading guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The Orbiter featured a rotating vertical pole with six arms - each holding a cluster of spinning cars. The car the two women were in broke away from the arm and was flung through the air before hitting an adjacent fast-food stall.
The ride had only been operating for 20 seconds and was not up to full speed when the malfunction occurred. The court heard that if it had been up to full speed, the consequences for the women, and those in the vicinity of the ride, could have been fatal.
An investigation showed the there was a failure of a weld that held the car to the ride. Despite receiving an annual inspection, which took place just weeks before the incident, the problem was not detected.
HSE inspector Gareth Langston said: "These two young women suffered serious injuries but the results could have been much, much worse. If the ride had been at full speed, we could have been looking at a fatal incident, with possible injuries to other passengers on the ride as well as onlookers.
"As the ride's owner, Mr Jones had a duty to ensure his ride was maintained in good working order, while Fairground Inspection Services had a duty to carry out a thorough inspection. They both failed in their responsibilities and have left these two young women with life-long injuries."
In November 2009, Fairground Inspection Services admitted failing to properly examine a similar ride in Suffolk, breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was then ordered to pay a £8,000 fine with £1,000 costs.