Almost 500 visitors reported injuries at amusements parks and funfairs in the UK last year, new figures have revealed.
The official data was released to an MP concerned about a string of recent high profile incidents at theme parks, including a crash at Alton Towers in June last year which left two people needing leg amputations and a ride derailment at M&D’s in North Lanarkshire in June in which nine people were injured.
Northern Ireland MP Jim Shannon, of the Democratic Unionist Party, said he believed the public would be shocked at the scale of injuries and the government should consider if its regulation of funfairs and amusement parks is strong enough.
In 2014-15, 489 members of the public reported injuries at funfairs and amusement parks, with around 120 meeting the criteria for an investigation, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
A reported injury may not meet the official criteria because the individual did not receive hospital treatment or they were taken to hospital as a precaution.
It was a rise of 100 reports by members of the public compared with 2013-14 and 10 more than in 2012-13.
The number of reported injuries among workers has fallen from 64 in 2012-13 to 56 in 2013-14 and 51 in 2014-15.
Mr Shannon, who asked for the figures in a parliamentary question, said: “There have been some fairly horrific accidents this last period of time and I’m keen to get an idea of what government are doing about it. The figures show it’s not just an occasional thing, it seems to be a more common occurrence.
“Whenever you get on those rides you expect to have the thrill and the excitement of the ride, but you expect to get off the other end and go and buy an ice cream – you don’t expect to be hung upside down or referred to hospital.
“When you see there are hundreds of reports of injuries to workers and the public at funfairs and amusement parks in 2012-13, a dramatic fall the next year and then a rise in 2014-15 back to where it was, that indicates there is still a problem to be addressed.”
Work and Pensions Minister Penny Mordaunt said the HSE’s National Fairground Inspection Team (NFIT) was proactively targeting fairgrounds with known problems.
In response to a second question about the safety of amusement parks, she said: “NFIT inspectors also investigate accidents and complaints.
“They have a range of options available to hold poor performers to account, including enforcement notices and prosecution for the most serious breaches of the law. Any lessons learned from these investigations are communicated to the industry.”