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Some observations on waterslide injuries
  1. David J Ball
  1. School of Health, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Middlesex University, 10 Highgate Hill, London N19 5ND, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Ball.


Study objective—To investigate the causes of a series of interperson collisions on a waterslide resulting in serious injury, and to assess adequacy of control systems and legal liability.

Method—Site investigation of operating characteristics including a traffic light controlled system, organisational safety culture, and user behaviour.

Results—Despite a battery of safety features including closed circuit TV, citizen's band radios, a traffic light controlled system, part time supervision, and warning notices, the system was found to be inherently “unsafe” as operated. It placed a small but significant percentage of users in a hazardous situation whereby consecutive riders could collide with each other while in the flume even when conforming with all instructions. The realised risk might have been even higher were not staff and users adopting their own precautionary measures.

Conclusions—The risk to waterslide users, even the majority observing the safety rules, was questionably high, and facility operators were vulnerable to a court ruling that they had failed in their duty of care. It is suggested that waterslide operators elsewhere, who are wholly or partially reliant on traffic light controlled systems, should carefully scrutinise the safety of their operating systems. Members of the public who use these facilities would, in any event, be well advised to remain vigilant whatever the perceived adequacy of the safety system in operation.

  • waterslide
  • flume
  • duty of care
  • risk compensation

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