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                        2 min read

                        Systematic failure: the cause of four fatalities and a $3.6m fine

                        Systematic failure: the cause of four fatalities and a $3.6m fine

                        Dreamworld operator parent company, Ardent Leisure, has received the largest fine in Queensland’s history, following the tragic incident in 2016 that resulted in the death of four customers.

                        The coroner released a damning 300-page report in February 2020 that concluded there had been a “systemic failure by Dreamworld in relation to all aspects of safety”.

                        The prosecution concluded that Dreamworld:

                        • Had poor systems in place

                        • should have known the risk existed that gave rise to the fatalities 

                        • could have prevented the incident via a more systematic inspection and risk management process

                        • could have prevented the incident by installing a water level sensor at a cost of approximately $3,000.

                         Dreamworld ride
                        The prosecution ruled that the tragic incident on the Thunder Rapids ride could have been avoided.

                        Ardent Leisure admitted systematic failures related to the management of risks associated with the operation of the Thunder River Rapids ride were the root cause of the incident. The company pleaded guilty to three charges, which led to the combined fine of $3.6M.

                        In WHS legislation, amusement devices – such as the ride concerned – are considered high-risk plant (machinery). This tragic incident is one of the starkest reminders of the criticality of having a systematic process for the management of plant and machinery safety risks.

                        The company has since undertaken considerable investment in systems and processes designed to ensure proactive assessment and management of risks associated with its operations.

                        It is fair to say that hindsight is a wonderful thing. Painful as it is to acknowledge – especially for the deceased’s families and all the people inside Dreamworld and Ardent Leisure – these four deaths were completely avoidable.

                        Anyone who has been through a workplace fatality will tell you that they would do anything to make sure they never have to go through one again.


                        Here to help!

                        Preventing incidents like this is why we exist. We are driven by the desire to make it easier to take a systematic approach to the management of plant and machinery safety.

                        Investing in systematic management of these risks does prevent these incidents from occurring.


                        Does your machinery safety management system pass the test? Find out now. 

                         Since 2004, Plant Assessor has been helping people take control of their safety systems relating to plant and machinery.

                        We have an easy to use self-diagnostic tool, our Machinery Safety System Health Check, is designed to help people who use plant and machinery understand how solid their safety systems are. 

                        Take the test and get a better understanding of your system’s health – before it’s too late. 

                        If you would like some help with your system diagnosis, or have any other plant and machinery safety concerns, contact us, and our team of experts will be in touch.


                        Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information.

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