A leading safety engineer engaged by Dreamworld has delivered a damning critique of the theme park’s safety standards before the Thunder River Rapids tragedy. Picture: Adam Head
A leading safety engineer engaged by Dreamworld has delivered a damning critique of the theme park’s safety standards before the Thunder River Rapids tragedy. Picture: Adam Head

‘Wouldn’t let my own kids on Dreamworld’s rides’

A LEADING safety engineer has told an inquest in to the Thunder River Rapids tragedy that the true cause of the disaster has never been determined.

While the inquest has heard of failed water pumps, overly complicated shut-down systems and poor training, David Randall, a safety engineer engaged to audit Dreamworld's safety standards in 2013, told Coroner James McDougall the disaster's real cause remained a mystery.

Forensic crash unit officers using crash test dummies were unable to replicate the scenario leading to the horrific accident in October 2016.

"It suggests to me we don't know how it (the raft) tipped over yet," he said.

"That's my definition of an accident. Something you can not replicate."

One of the world's leading theme park safety experts David Randall. Picture: Mike Batterham
One of the world's leading theme park safety experts David Randall. Picture: Mike Batterham

David Randall, the managing director of DRA Safety Specialists, told the inquest Dreamworld's safety systems were not reassuring when he was first engaged by the business in 2013.

He said he told the Ardent Leisure Board three years before the 2016 disaster that the company would be on perilous ground in the case of a tragedy.

"As I said to the board at the time, if we had an accident we would not have had the body of evidence to demonstrate we had carried out due diligence," he said.

"There was a (safety) system in place but it wasn't great.

"There was a system but you could run a steamroller through it at that particular time."

He said there was a resistance to change, very poor safety system ideals and staff were concerned primarily with watching each other's backs.

He said many theme park rides had the same level of risk as commercial aircraft.

"If we make a mistake there could be just as many fatalities as with an aircraft," he said.

File picture of Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids Ride in action. Picture: Adam Head
File picture of Dreamworld’s Thunder River Rapids Ride in action. Picture: Adam Head

 

UPDATE 11.15am: A SAFETY auditor engaged by Dreamworld three years before the Thunder River Rapids tragedy has told an inquest safety systems were so bad prior to his arrival he would not have let his own children go on the park's rides.

David Randall, the managing director of safety specialists DRA, told the inquest he had major concerns with Dreamworld's systems when he first started working with the park on a safety audit in 2013 - three years before the 2016 disaster that claimed four lives.

"Even though staff were competent … the rides weren't maintained to a standard where I would place my own children on them - and I love my children," he said.

After initially receiving a score of just 41 per cent on a safety audit, Mr Randall said Dreamworld was making progress and was 'committed to the process' of improvement.

Shane Goodchild, father of Kate Goodchild and Luke Dorsett, is seen arriving at the inquest into the Dreamworld disaster. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Shane Goodchild, father of Kate Goodchild and Luke Dorsett, is seen arriving at the inquest into the Dreamworld disaster. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

UPDATE 10.50am: A SAFETY audit carried out at Dreamworld three years before the Thunder River Rapids tragedy found the park severely wanting.

In the audit, carried out by leading firm DRA Safety Specialists, Dreamworld scored just 41.7 per cent.

A 'fully compliant' business would require a score of 75 per cent.

The audit concluded there was no evidence the rides had been inspected to comply with manufacturer's requirements and there had been no formal risk management process applied.

It also found little evidence of ride induction and several other forms of staff training including work at height and confined space training, while some records had been lost or thrown in the bin.

The audit measured Dreamworld's systems and procedures rather than physical inspections of actual rides.



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