The operator of an inflatable slide which blew over at Ripley car boot sale three years ago causing harm to several people has abandoned his appeal against his conviction for breaches of health and safety regulations.
On 28 April 2013 an inflatable slide being operated by Victor Lusher blew over due to insecure anchorage. The inflatable took off whilst two children were using the slide then travelled some distance before coming to rest. A number of people were taken to hospital with thankfully relatively minor physical injuries but there was psychological harm to the children involved.
Mr Lusher had denied the health and safety offences brought by Harrogate Borough Council but was convicted by Harrogate Magistrates’ Court and sentenced on 6 May 2015. He was sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment suspended for twelve months. He was also ordered to do unpaid community service work of 300 hours and to pay the councils costs of £9,000.
Mr Lusher, 52, from Heywood Road in Harrogate, went on to appeal the Magistrates’ Court’s decision.
That appeal was heard at Teesside Crown Court on 14 January 2016, at which point Mr Lusher abandoned his appeal in relation to the health and safety offence.
Also at this hearing, the council agreed not to resist the part of his appeal relating to a second offence contrary to Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations.
Teesside Crown Court heard His Honour Judge Ashurst rule that Mr Lusher’s failure to comply with health and safety duties resulted in a risk of seriously hurting members of the public. There had been recent cases involving inflatables and anyone operating one ought to have been alert to the need to comply with their health and safety duties. There was a failure to use sufficient anchor points and the pegs used were below the required British Standard.
Judge Ashurst also ruled that Mr Lusher had used an inflatable which was damaged and had missing anchor points. He had purchased the inflatable second hand without any manufacturer’s instructions and the experts’ view was that in the absence of these instructions all anchorage points should have been used. There had been a failure by Mr Lusher to take into account the prevailing wind speed, which exceeded the maximum speed stipulated by British Standard for safe operation of an inflatable, which begged the question why did Mr Lusher take the risk to use the inflatable that day?
Judge Ashurst ordered Mr Lusher to bear the council’s costs of the appeal which totalled £6,046. This was in addition to the original costs of over £9,000. However, his suspended sentence was reduced to 13 weeks and his community service work to 250 hours.
A Confiscation and Destruction Order was made in respect of the inflatable.
Councillor John Ennis chairs Harrogate Borough Council’s Licensing Committee. He said:
This was a very serious incident and could have resulted in much worse injuries to the people hit by the slide, and the children who were on it when it blew away.
Members of the public have the right to expect that their safety is of paramount importance to the operators of such equipment but this clearly wasn’t the case in this instance, as has been proved twice now in a court of law.
This prosecution sends a very clear message to operators of inflatable equipment that they must ensure that it is in good repair, inspected annually by a competent person and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
This case shows how serious the consequences can be if these safety measures aren’t followed, and operators should understand that Harrogate Borough Council will take the firmest possible action against anyone who fails to meet their responsibilities.