In October 2018, members of the public sustained a range of injuries after a stunt car lost control and collided with a perimeter fence at a public event. Early enquiries indicate the car used a ramp in the arena as part of the stunt performance just before it hit the fence. Investigations are continuing.
Preventing a similar incident
Many public events are commercial enterprises, such as speedway racing and music festivals, and involve inherent risks outside those usually encountered through work.
When a public event is conducted by a PCBU, work health and safety laws apply and the PCBU must ensure:
- the health and safety of participants, spectators and anyone else at the event
- the work environment is without potential risks to health and safety
- plant and structures are safe
- safe systems of work.
The PCBU must be:
- committed to providing the highest level of protection for people against risks to their health and safety
- proactive in taking measures to protect the health and safety of people.
A PCBU as an event organiser needs to anticipate all reasonably foreseeable risks that patrons are likely to be exposed to and provide reasonably practicable control measures in response.
Duty holders should consider a suitable combination of risk controls for events incorporating stunt cars shows, for example:
- effective barrier systems to protect spectators from injury in the event an out of control stunt vehicle crashing out of the arena—the barrier system must be designed for a likely impact and account for the speed and size of the stunt vehicle
- clearly marking necessary exclusions zones based on the direction and type of stunts being performed—for example not allowing spectators to be directly in front of any vehicle lined up for a high speed stunt such as a jump and ensuring appropriate supervision of spectators to ensure exclusion zones are not breached
- ensuring the maintenance and modification of stunt vehicles is completed in accordance with good engineering practice by a competent person
- implementing a suitable inspection regime for stunt vehicles which includes pass fail criteria for brakes, steering, suspension, wheels and tyres.
Other stunt and theatrical shows may also need to have specific measures in place to minimise the risk of injury to patrons and performers, for example:
- eliminating the risk by redesigning the stunt so that the hazard is removed or eliminated
- reducing flying debris, shrapnel and other particles to the minimum necessary to achieve a desired effect and establishing exclusion zones to protect people from the minimum amount
- designing the stunt to reduce the risk of injury should any components of the stunt malfunction or come into contact with people
- ensuring safe working distances are identified by competent people and are adhered to.
Since 1 July 2013, there have been 12 notified motor racing or vehicle stunt incidents. No workers’ compensation data is available as stuntmen are not covered under the workers’ compensation scheme, but through personal insurance arrangements. Of these, four were fatal and five involved serious injuries.
In the same period four statutory notices were issued involving risks to health and safety from motor racing or a vehicle stunt event.
Prosecutions and compliance
In 2017, a company was fined $100,000 after a member of the public was injured while driving a go kart. The tyre barrier was ineffective in safely stopping the kart after an impact and the risk of impact with parts of the kart during a collision was not controlled.