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Owner of Company Fined Following Circus Tent Collapse

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
15th March 2016

The owner of a company who supplies marquees and tents has been fined after guy ropes securing a circus tent snapped causing it to collapse injuring three adults and five children at Burley Park, New Forest.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard that on 10 August 2014 a sudden gust of wind went through the circus tent and eighteen of the guy ropes which secured the tent failed and snapped. 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that Happy Promotions Limited had in December 2013 taken their tent for inspection and repair to Jose’s Marquees.

Josie Routledge, of Jose’s Marquees, was asked by Happy Promotions to replace the guy ropes. 

However, the court heard the guy ropes supplied were in fact made up of unrated webbing and had no safe working load. This led to the incident at Burley Park 8 months later. 

Josie Routledge, of Tyn-y-cym, Bwlch-y-Ffridd, Newtown, Powys, was found guilty of breaching Section 6(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £528… 

HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said after the hearing: “The fact the guy ropes snapped (rather than the pegs being pulled from the ground) is a clear indication that the fault lies with the strength of the guy ropes, rather than the method of erection. Fortunately, the tent was empty at the time of the incident. Had a performance been underway there would have been performers and around 30 people were due to attend the afternoon performance. Were the tent occupied the collapse would likely have resulted in multiple serious injuries.”

Phoenix comment “It is important for small business owners to understand that they could be prosecuted and fined themselves if it can be proven that they are the ones at fault. In this case, the owner of the company has been found guilty for the substandard work carried out on the guy ropes.”