Dreamworld Theme Park on the Gold Coast.
Dreamworld Theme Park on the Gold Coast. DAVE HUNT

Deaths prompt a new offence

QUEENSLAND is set to make industrial manslaughter a criminal offence after an independent review prompted by the death of four people on a water ride at Dreamworld last year.

Two women and two men died on the Thunder River Rapids ride on the Gold Coast when it malfunctioned, throwing two people out and trapping two inside.

State Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has introduced the necessary legislation in Parliament.

"Industrial manslaughter ... is about not only the individual but the corporation, and that's now going to be part of the Workplace Health and Safety Act with an independent prosecutor to ensure that the independence is maintained in cohort with the director of public prosecutions,” she said.

"This is a serious offence and one that will be handled very professionally in the future.”

She did not know whether it would be used in relation to the Dreamworld deaths.

"It's always there in relation to it, but investigations are continuing in relation to this matter.”

"There is the ability to have criminal manslaughter charges brought against an individual in relation to these issues at anytime as we've seen with the tragedy at Eagle Farm.”

According to Work Place Health and Safety, there were 111 serious ride incidents in Australia between 2001 and 2011, and a significant number may be attributed to inadequate training or operator error.

High turnover of ride operators particularly at shows and a lack of effective operator training contributed to ride incidents.

"For example in the Dreamworld tragedy, I believe the operator was on her first day on the job, which is not only bad for the company but I also feel for the worker put in that position,” Ms Grace said.

It is proposed theme parks, including Dreamworld and Sea World, and operators who assemble mobile carnival rides at the Brisbane Exhibition (Ekka) and school fetes have the same operator licensing requirements.

At the moment, a forklift drivers has to do more specialist training than someone operating an extreme amusement ride, a review that was instigated after last year's Dreamworld tragedy found.

Rides get less stringent inspections than cranes, the recent review of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland regulations has showed.

The review, commissioned after the death of four people on Dreamworld's Thunder River Rapids ride and a fatal workplace accident at Eagle Farm racecourse last year, has outlined a number of gaping holes in public safety issues at these facilities.

Some rides school fetes and local shows are more than 30 years old and have no major inspection requirements.

After Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett and Roozi Araghi died on October 25 last year when Dreamworld's Thunder River Rapids ride malfunctioned, WHSQ audited 90 rides.