Council to pay dad hurt after inflatable slide collapse

Fri, Mar 31
A giant inflatable slide (file image).

Thames-Coromandel District Council has been ordered to pay reparations to a victim injured in the December 2020 collapse of a giant inflatable slide at the Whangamatā Summer Festival.

"A dozen people, most of whom were children, fell from heights of up to 12 metres," WorkSafe said. "A father on the slide, Louwan Van Rooyen, broke both his ankles and has required 11 surgeries since."

Now, the council has been ordered to pay $10,000 to Van Rooyen for its failure to manage a shared risk.

The slide was operated by JTK Trustee Limited at the council's authorisation. The operating company were last year fined $350,000 and ordered to pay over $40,000 in reparations over the incident.

"Over and above the operator's obvious failures, the council plainly failed to do its due diligence on an operator with a poor safety record," WorkSafe area investigation manager Paul West said.

Following a WorkSafe investigation into the Whangamatā incident, it was discovered that JTK Trust Limited had been approached 11 times previously, including after a 2015 slide collapse that injured six children in Masterton and a 2016 slide collapse in Hamilton in which 10 children fell 10 metres.

WorkSafe found JTK applied to the council using an old form, which didn't require confirmation the slide met safety standards, and a permit was given three days after the application "without the council doing any of the checks recommended by its own staff".

After the incident, the slide was found to be electrically unsafe with poor anchoring and air leaks via holes and seams.

"Businesses and organisations that consent and permit events and equipment cannot absolve themselves of responsibility for health and safety when things go wrong," West said.

"Whānau should have the confidence that public events they attend are being run in a safe manner."


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