Britain’s Marine Accident Investigation, MAIB, has released its report into an incident at Princes Club Water Sorts Park in Bedfont, Middlesex in which an 11 year old girl died. The report notes that there is no oversight of operators that provide towed inflatable rides on a commercial basis and no assurance that their operating standards control the risks
effectively and the licensing requirements for ski boat drivers and ski boats operating on a
commercial basis are unclear.
It it’s synopsis, MAIB says: “On 11 September 2010, an 11 year old girl was killed when she fell from a banana boat ride.
“The driver of the ski boat that was towing the banana boat was not aware that she had fallen in to the water, and did not see her as he continued on a tight circular route. The ski boat ran over the girl and its propeller caused severe injuries. She was pronounced dead soon after arriving at the hospital.
“The subsequent MAIB investigation identified a number of factors that contributed to the accident, including:
- • The ski boat was operating without an observer and the driver was dividing his
- attention between looking ahead at where he was going, and behind to check on the
- welfare of those riding the banana boat.
- The helmet issued to the victim was a grey colour that was difficult to see in the lake water.
- The tight circuit taken by the driver and the limited forward visibility from the boat at the slower speeds required for towing an inflatable, reduced the opportunity to see the victim in the water.
- The implementation and execution of the safety management system used at Princes Club was flawed at every level and had not identified or controlled the risks to children taking part in banana boat rides effectively.
- There is no oversight of operators that provide towed inflatable rides on a commercial basis and no assurance that their operating standards control the risks effectively.
- The licensing requirements for ski boat drivers and ski boats operating on a commercial basis are unclear.
A recommendation has been made to the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) and British Water Ski and Wakeboard (BWSW) to develop a code of practice that covers not only the activity of towed inflatable rides but also offers guidance on the health and safety management of centres that conduct them. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been recommended to include this activity in what ever arrangements replace the
Adventure Activity Licensing Authority.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has been recommended to clarify the licensing requirements for ski boats engaged in towing inflatables on a commercial basis and, if necessary, work with BWSW in the development of an appropriate driver qualification.
The Health and Safety (Commercial) team of the London Borough of Hounslow Council’s Environment Department visited the club following the accident and issued two prohibition and five improvement notices. At the time of publication of this report, its investigation into the accident was continuing. The Council has been recommended to introduce a licensing scheme for this activity in its area.
Princes Club has taken a significant number of actions to address the shortfalls of its safety management system that were present at the time of the accident. MAIB has further recommended that Princes Club review its staff induction programme and introduce a system of auditing drivers’ practices.