An adventure camp popular with school groups has been fined following a high wire incident that left a student “foaming at the mouth” and nearly took her life.
A popular adventure park often used for school camps was ordered to pay more than $100,000 following an investigation from WorkSafe Victoria into an incident where a student was nearly strangled on a high wire course.
The Summit Outdoor Adventure Park in Trafalgar, east of Melbourne, pleaded guilty to three charges including one charge of failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks and two charges of failing to notify WorkSafe immediately after an incident.
The company was fined $100,000 and was ordered to pay $10,591 in costs.
The incident took place in February 2020 when a student was taking part in a high wire activity 10 to 12 metres off the ground and her helmet strap became tangled with the wire, “effectively strangling her”.
“The student couldn’t breathe and began kicking her legs while foaming at the mouth, ultimately losing consciousness,” WorkSafe Victoria described the incident.
A teacher from the school had to climb the activity to release the girl, without safety equipment, when the facilitator didn’t receive a response to an emergency radio request.
The WorkSafe release said the student was still suffering from the incident to this day.
“The student spent a night in hospital and although she has made a full physical recovery, she has been diagnosed with PTSD and requires ongoing counselling and treatment,” it read.
WorkSafe executive director of health and safety Narelle Beer said The Summit needed to be better prepared for emergency situations.
“Every employer should have a plan in place to let workers and visitors know what to do when things go wrong, but it is absolutely critical in workplaces that engage in high-risk activity,” she said.
“Emergency plans should be reviewed and, if necessary, revised on a regular basis to ensure they remain effective.”
While investigating the incident WorkSafe heard another student had fallen and fractured their ankle on the same day, requiring surgery.
The court heard the WorkSafe investigation found The Summit’s high wire rescue plan required a responder to arrive, and don a harness before climbing the apparatuses to rescue the participant.
An expert at court said the protocol was not sufficient and “prolonged the rescue operations, exposing those involved to further risks to their health and safety, including death”.
WorkSafe was only made aware of the incident following an anonymous report three days after it had taken place.
The Summit’s website states: “We are industry experts in large group accommodation, camps, retreats, and custom events”.
The camp offers activities including cave and bush challenges, flying foxes, abseiling, sky bridges and nail walks.