3 Dec 2015

Operator fined over A&P slide collapse

9:32 pm on 3 December 2015

A Waikato businessman who refused to provide WorkSafe New Zealand with information has been fined $115,000.

In February Eric Gerritsen's Mammoth Slide at the Masterton A&P show collapsed and six children were taken to hospital.

Mr Gerritsen, who runs Event Fun Unlimited, was fined in the Hamilton District Court today for obstructing a WorkSafe inspector.

The maximum fine for the offence is $250,000.

Chief inspector Keith Stewart said he paid the price for ignoring email and phone messages left by an inspector and his refusal to help.

"We gave Mr Gerritsen many opportunities and chances to provide the information and at the end of the day he decided not to provide it. We went to Cambridge to have an interview with Mr Gerritsen and that was terminated shortly after when it was quite clear we were not going to get the information."

Mr Stewart said it was unusually irresponsible for a business owner not to assist with an investigation, particularly when it involved the safety of children.

He said if Mr Gerritsen had helped the investigator, others could have benefited.

"One of the purposes of our investigation is looking to learn lessons from these types of situations where we can help prevent others.

"We may not have been able to learn some valuable lessons that we could have used to inform other inflatable site operators so they could prevent similar incidents.

"By refusing to cooperate he effectively prevented us from learning those lessons."

Mr Stewart said the fine will send a message to people to cooperate with inspectors.