Two months before four people lost their lives on the Thunder River Rapids ride, Dreamworld’s senior safety officers tried to bypass an annual engineering inspection of the attraction.
Workplace Health and Safety chief safety engineer Michael Chan met with Dreamworld general manager of engineering Chris Deaves and head of safety Angus Hutchings on August 14, 2016.
The pair told Mr Chan they had been unable to secure a registered engineer to perform a safety audit as part of the registration process.
“They proposed that the department accept the maintenance regime in lieu of an annual inspection by a professional engineer,” Mr Chan said.
“I explained that such a proposal was unacceptable,” Mr Chan said.
The annual inspection must be performed by a suitably experienced person and not by a system, he said.
“Just because you have a maintenance and safety system, I cannot say you are good to go.”
Dreamworld was granted two extensions to enable the audit to take place, with Mr Chan saying the delay “would not introduce significant risks” to Dreamworld’s continued operation.
The final deadline to complete the annual audit was December 1, 2016 when the ride would have been shut down by WPHS.
Just over two months after the August meeting, Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi were killed after a water pump malfunction.
Mr Chan told the inquest the removal of slats from the ride’s conveyor point may have contributed to the accident and should have been brought to the attention of WPHS officers.
“What they have done is introduce a nip point where you can be trapped and dragged in … if you remove two slats, you have introduced a hazard and altered the health and safety of the ride.”
Mr Chan said the fatal incident at Dreamworld “highlighted, to me at least, that we (Workplace Health and Safety) need to do more”.
He said the department was considering changes to the inspection process which would require theme parks to present an “argument” outlining their safety and maintenance regime.
“It is then the department’s role to go and verify if it is running the way they claim it is running. So it is going the next step,” Mr Chan said.
“We want to see audit results including an external auditor coming in to verify that your systems are in fact running effectively.”
WPHS officers are the focus of the sixth week of the inquest.