Alton Towers Smiler employee ‘under pressure’

The Smiler, Alton Towers

A ride consultant has described an environment of “pressure” relating to ride downtime at Alton Towers as being a relevant factor in the Smiler accident.

Steven Flanagan, a former Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector and amusement park professional, was utilised as an expert witness in the HSE’s prosecution.

His report was published during this week’s sentencing hearing, in which Alton Towers was fined a record £5 million for the the accident.

Mr Flanagan said that ‘mistaken priorities’ could be the basis on which the staff member made a crucial error when reactivating the ride, which led to a collision between two trains.

He said: “It is clear that [the staff member’s] priority had become getting the ride quickly back into service, and he felt pressure to that effect.

“The evidence provided to me also indicates that management had set targets for downtime on rides, with bonuses linked to achieving acceptable low levels.

“There were also ‘clocks’ in the ride control cabins showing the current performance on downtime,” the report read.

16 people were injured – five seriously – in the 2 June 2015 accident.