Company fined after circus tent collapses injuring 8
The owner of a company that supplies marquees and tents has been fined £528 following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Southampton Magistrate's Court heard how on 10 August 2014 a sudden gust of wind blew through a circus tent at Burley Park, New Forest.
Eighteen of the guy ropes securing the tent failed and snapped, causing the tent to collapse. Three adults and five children were injured in the accident.
Although the circus' owners had taken the tent for inspection and repair to a marquee company in December 2013 and asked the company to replace the guy ropes, the investigation revealed that the new ropes were made up of unrated webbing and had no safe working load.
An HSE inspector said that the fact that the guy ropes snapped rather than being pulled from the ground clearly demonstrated that the fault lay with the strength of the guy ropes, rather than the method of erection.
The owner of the marquee company in Wales was found guilty of breaching Section 6(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and fined.
The Act states (under General duties of manufacturers etc. as regards articles and substances for use at work) that "it shall be the duty of any person who designs, manufactures, imports or supplies any article for use at work or any article of fairground equipment . . . to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the article is so designed and constructed that it will be safe and without risks to health at all times when it is being set, used, cleaned or maintained by a person at work".
Fortunately the performance had not commenced and there were very few people in the vicinity.
Had the tent been occupied by performers and the expected afternoon audience of around 30 people when it collapsed, it is likely that there would have been multiple serious injuries.
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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.