Merlin pleads guilty over Alton Towers Smiler crash
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Merlin pleads guilty over Alton Towers Smiler crash

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Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments has pleaded guilty in court to breaking health and safety laws in relation to the Smiler rollercoaster crash that seriously injured five passengers, including two people who underwent leg amputations.

In a hearing at the North Staffordshire justice centre today (22 April), Merlin admitted breaching health and safety laws, meaning the firm will face an unlimited fine, expected to be in the millions of pounds, when it is sentenced at a later date.

During the hearing, the company was alleged to have breached section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The rule states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

A total of 16 people were injured in June last year when their carriage collided with an empty one.

An investigation into the crash revealed in November that the accident was the result of human error when an operator manually overrode the ride safety system. The investigation did not find any technical or mechanical problems with the ride itself.

The Smiler reopened in March for the first time since the accident. The ride has since been equipped with new safety features, including technical improvements. Staff have also been given additional training.

The park has also added further protocols to the manual override process so that a senior staff member has to authorise and action the decision. Additional surveillance cameras and additional staff inspection checks have also been put in place.

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Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments has pleaded guilty in court to breaking health and safety laws in relation to the Smiler rollercoaster crash that seriously injured five passengers, including two people who underwent leg amputations.
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