Dreamworld Inquest Enters Second Week

The coronial inquiry into the Dreamworld tragedy continues this week, with the park's former health and safety manager telling the inquest he inherited an 'archaic' safety system.

Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Roozi Araghi and Cindy Low were killed on Dreamworld's Thunder River Rapids ride in October 2016. The fatal incident occurred after a large water pump failed, causing water levels to drop and two rafts to collide.

Dreamworld's safety manager at the time of the incident, Mark Thompson, told the inquest there was an "archaic system" of computer files to manage and sort through when he began working at Dreamworld, and that he needed a team of six more people to run the park's health and safety effectively.

"There was only one of me - it made it hard for me to do proactive work when I was putting out forest fires."

“I needed dedicated safety professionals. I needed a safety officer in engineering, I needed a safety officer in compliance.”

Mr Thompson said he reported the concerns to his manager but was told there were "financial constraints" and Dreamworld had "always done it that way".

Minutes from an executive meeting in March 2016 indicate that Dreamworld was experiencing a drop in profit, and that cutbacks in repairs and maintenance were being enforced.

The inquest also heard that the major rides at Dreamworld were more than nine months' overdue for government registration renewal at the time of the incident, but that Dreamworld had applied for, and was granted, two extensions from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

Key points the inquest heard last week:

  • An 'almost identical' incident had occurred two years earlier, which saw a ride operator lose their job.
  • An engineer said electricians were 'distracted' by issues in other areas of the park on the day of the incident.
  • The pump had malfunctioned and needed to be reset on two occasions earlier that day. Just over half an hour after the pump malfunctioned a second time, it failed again, leading to the fatal incident.
  • It was revealed there was no drill training for Dreamworld staff for potential emergency situations.
  • A memo was sent to staff a week prior to the incident, instructing them to only use the e-stop if the ride's main control panel could not be reached.
  • It was ride operator Courtney Williams' first time operating Thunder River Rapids. She told the inquest she had only 90 minutes of training and "didn't know" the emergency button would stop the conveyor.
  • Park technicians were not trained in whether a ride fault could be dangerous. Senior ride operator Timothy Williams said a water pump failure would not be considered an emergency.
  • There was no system to monitor the ride's water levels.

The inquest continues.

 

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