Posted on 21 August 2014.
A go-kart hire company and its director have been fined $30,250 after a 13-year-old girl stopped breathing and lost consciousness when her hair was caught around the rear axle of a go-kart.
Australian Racecare Pty Ltd – trading as Wanneroo Kart Hire – pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety and health of a person who was not an employee, and was fined $21,000 in Joondalup Magistrates Court yesterday.
The company’s sole director and manager of the business, Michael William Laughton, also pleaded guilty over his personal role in his company’s offending and was fined $9250.
In August 2011, the 13-year-old girl was at Wanneroo Kart Hire with a friend and the friend’s parents, where they bought two 20-minute rides in the go-karts.
The two girls both had long hair. The hair nets provided were designed for hygiene purposes, not for holding in long hair.
The girls tucked their hair inside their jumpers instead. No comment was made about the girls’ hair or loose clothing when the go-karts were started by track attendants.
The girls’ hair remained tucked into their jumpers throughout their first 20-minute session in the go-karts, after which they removed their helmets and hair nets, untucked their hair from their jumpers and had lunch.
When they returned to the track for their second ride, they replaced their helmets and hair nets, but the girl did not tuck her hair inside her jumper.
When she got into the go-kart, her hair was down between her jumper and the go-kart seat. Again, no comment was made about the girls’ hair or loose clothing when the go-karts were started by track attendants.
After a few laps, the girl felt her hair being pulled sharply backwards.
Her hair had come out from between her jumper and the go-kart seat and had tangled around the rear axle of the go-kart.
She was pulled backwards over the seat with her back arched over, and her helmet was against the brakes on the rear axle.
The chin-strap of her helmet was cutting into her neck and preventing her from breathing.
She lost consciousness.
The girl’s hair was cut to free her from the axle, and she started breathing again and regained consciousness. She did not suffer any lasting injuries.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch today said the incident demonstrated the importance of ensuring that the moving parts of all machinery and vehicles were guarded.
“It is particularly important to ensure the safety of items such as amusement devices that are used or operated by members of the public who may not be aware of the hazards involved,” Mr McCulloch said.
“The 13-year-old involved in this incident did not suffer any lasting injuries, but that was pure luck and the potential outcomes from this type of incident are just horrendous.
“Simple guarding of the hazardous moving parts of machinery is the easiest way to prevent injuries, and this need not be an expensive exercise.
“The track attendants at Wanneroo Kart Hire failed in their basic duty of care to ensure the girls’ hair was restrained, illustrating the importance of ensuring that employees are trained and instructed to enforce all safety measures where members of the public are involved.
After the incident, all Wanneroo Kart Hire go-karts were fitted with guarding between the seats and ends of the go-karts which now prevents loose clothing and hair coming into contact with the rear axle.
“It was practicable for these guards to have been fitted much earlier, avoiding this potentially tragic situation from arising,” Mr McCulloch said.
Photo: Jina Lee, Wikimedia Commons