Tragic Lessons in Work Health & Safety
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Courtenell Pty Ltd

as Trustee for the Vowles Family Trust

WHS Training Specialists, Sydney, Australia  

train@courtenell.com.au ~ PO Box 622 Broadway NSW 2007

ABN: 42164393628 ~ ACN: 050109281

02 9552 2066

Tragic Lessons in Work Health & Safety

When a fatality occurs in a workplace it obviously becomes a focus of investigation to discover why it happened. And when it involves the deaths of 4 members of the public, such as in the tragic Dreamworld incident in 2016, the focus of investigation and the public and government attention to the incident becomes intense.


In fact this tragedy at Dreamworld on their Thunder River Rapids ride was a major factor in the push for including an industrial manslaughter offence into the WHS Act in Queensland on the 23rd of October 2017.   


We can learn from other tragedies and perhaps review our workplace and our  “reasonably practicable” actions to ensure the health and safety of workers and others in our workplaces (Section 19 WHS Act).


The coronial inquest into the four deaths commenced on the 25th June 2018 to hear evidence for the purpose of determining the cause and circumstances of these deaths. The Safety Manager and other current and former employees, have already attended the first section of the Inquest to give evidence and to answer difficult questions. Read more on our website.


Dreamworld issued a press statement after the first section of the Inquest. The statement included their acknowledgement that the evidence that had been submitted and the testimonies given by current and former employees to the Inquest were “shocking and deeply concerning”. “Dreamworld is profoundly sorry this tragedy occurred”.


The Evidence So Far

The Inquest is scheduled to resume in October before a final section in November and no conclusions can be made until all the evidence is at hand. However the evidence presented so far includes that:




(1) One of the Engineering Supervisors gave evidence that under Dreamworld breakdown policy, if the same fault occurred twice in a 24-hour period then: (i) the ride had to be shut down, (ii) the Supervisor had to be informed, and (iii) a review of the ride had to be carried out.


(2) The Engineering Technician who attended the breakdown apparently thought that the policy was three breakdowns in a 24 hour period, not two breakdowns.


(3) But the Senior Ride Operator gave evidence that she was unaware of any such policy. The Supervisor was not informed and there was no review. The Mechanical Engineer reset the pump and had never before reset the pump on this ride.  






3rd July 2018






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