Bungy operator fined $40,000

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A Hanmer adventure tourism operator has been ordered to pay $40,000 in fines and reparations after an Australian tourist was seriously injured while bungy jumping in May last year.

Thrillseekers Adventures Limited had already paid the victim more than $18,000 in reparations, Rangiora District Court was told today.

On May 7 last year, the tourist slipped out of bungy ankle straps during a jump and fell between six and 12 metres to the riverbed, suffering a torn spleen, cuts to her forehead, a fractured left shoulder and general bruising.

She was in hospital for 2-1/2 weeks and her shoulder was dislocated due to muscle deterioration, which affected her mobility.

She needed ongoing medical treatment and possible surgery.

"The company went through all their procedures and each step was double checked but they were well aware of the hazard that the ankle straps could slip off and did nothing to minimise or eliminate the hazard, which is unacceptable," Department of Labour Christchurch service manager Margaret Radford said.

The company should have made sure a backup system was worn in addition to the ankle strapping, Ms Radford said.

"This would have prevented this terrible accident."

The company now required jumpers to wear a full body harness.

The tourist was very lucky to be alive which might not have been the case, Ms Radford said.

At the time of the accident, Thrillseekers was the only one of eight bungy sites in the country that did not either have a secondary support available for jumpers or did a risk assessment to determine if the jumper needed a secondary support or should not jump.

Following a review of adventure tourism operations, the department was developing regulations that would require most adventure and outdoor tourism operators, including bungy operators, to be registered, Ms Radford said.

"As part of this registration process they will be required to pass a safety audit."

The new regulations would come into force on October 1 and would be implemented over time.

- NZPA

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