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Involving a regulator

The Story

Ian worked as a safety inspector at an amusement park. He was responsible for maintaining one of the park’s most popular rides. Every morning he would carry out a safety inspection on the ride and, if it passed, he would sign the ride off as safe in the log. During one inspection, he noticed that pins on the axles which kept the carriages stable had become loose. Ian thought this presented a serious risk and notified his managers. After what Ian felt was not a thorough examination, the Operations Manager cleared the ride as safe. Ian was unhappy with this and the next day, as no corrective action had been taken, he again could not sign off the ride as safe. Again the Operations Manager overruled Ian and he was assigned to other rides.Ian contacted us the same day. He was anxious that the weekend was coming up and that the park would be extremely busy. He was also worried that if he pursued the issue any further he would be dismissed.

What we advised

We advised Ian that we could contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on his behalf and relay the information that he had given us without giving his name. However, it was more than likely that they would want to speak to him, if they felt that the situation was potentially serious. We said we would explain Ian’s anxieties about his position and ask the HSE to bear this in mind. Although he was unsure whether he would speak to the HSE, he asked us to make the initial contact.The HSE agreed that the situation sounded potentially serious. However, they told us that they would need to speak to Ian. We explained Ian’s fears that if the HSE suddenly turned up to inspect this particular ride, his employers would easily put two and two together and he would be out of a job. The HSE assured us that if they were to carry out an inspection, it could be done in such a way as not to make Ian’s role apparent. We went back to Ian and, after talking things through, he agreed that he would speak to the HSE.

What happened

Shortly afterwards the HSE made a ‘routine’ visit to the park during which they inspected the ride, along with several other rides. As a result of the inspection, the ride was suspended and the repairs were carried out.