Fairground ride tested hours before girl fell

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A NEWLY installed fairground ride from which a teenage girl fell 40 feet had passed safety checks by independent inspectors just hours before the accident.

Sian Baglow, 14, fractured three ribs and injured her lungs when she fell from the pounds 300,000 Top Flip ride at Coney Beach amusement park in Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan on its first day of operation last Friday.

Three other teenagers were injured after being spilled from their seats on the ride. The two boys and a girl, treated for leg, neck and stomach injuries, were released from the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend after treatment.

The incident, coming just a day after Daniel Woodgate, 14, plunged 45ft to his death from a big wheel at Manningtree, near Harwich, Essex, highlighted demands by the Consumers' Association for tougher safety guidelines on funfairs.

Statistics gathered by the Health and Safety Executive show that in the five years to March 1992, 37 people were injured due to inadequate supervision of funfair rides.

In the same period, 22 were injured due to bad design or construction, three killed and 13 injured where guards or safety devices were a factor, and 12 were injured by driver/operator error.

An independent safety survey of theme parks, fairs and county shows, commissioned by the Consumers' Association, revealed generally good standards but 'all the parks still had room for improvement'.

The association called on the HSE to review the operation and control of rides: 'The independent inspection system that exists now for rides should be extended to include an assessment of the way in which rides are operated,' said the report.

Ian Hall, a Health and Safety Executive spokesman, said: 'It is not a legal requirement for our officers to inspect a new ride before it opens. But this ride had been fully checked by a team of independent engineers before it was allowed to open for business.'

Ray Powell, the Labour MP for the local constituency of Ogmore and chairman of the parliamentary fairgrounds committee, said: 'The group will be very alarmed at the accidents occurring throughout showgrounds at the moment.

'My immediate action will be to ascertain what safety checks are necessary before any new ride is granted permission to operate. If the rules are too slack I will want action to have them tightened up immediately.'

Earlier this year, a nine-year-old boy was killed at the Porthcawl fairground after a waterchute ride was hit by a steel lighting gantry. Timothy Morgan from Cardiff was killed and five others were injured.