Tragic Dreamworld incident raises safety concerns


It was reported in The Guardian, that an inspection in late 2012 found air compressors on 13 rides at the theme park did not meet safety standards, raising questions about the maintenance at the park.

Documents released by Queensland’s workplace regulator confirmed that the air receivers on the air compressors on the Thunder River Rapids ride as well as other rides were deemed “not fit for service” in November 2012. Concerns were raised regarding evidence of a quality management system and a lack of documentation regarding previous pressure vessel inspection reports during the 2012 inspection.

The tragic death of four people on the Thunder River Rapids ride has led to an immediate coronial investigation and raised concerns over the safety standards and maintenance on the rides at the theme park.

An official from the Australian Workers’ Union in Queensland announced that there had been operational and maintenance concerns for the past 18 months at the famous Australian theme park.

Dreamworld responded to the allegations made against them, releasing a statement stating that a safety audit had been carried out on the Thunder River Rapids ride earlier in September 2016 and they have a proven commitment to develop and maintain a strong safety culture, including annual audits which have demonstrated continuous improvement in the safety culture at the theme park.

Could the compressed air system and air receivers have contributed to this incident?

Although allegations have been made, no final conclusions can be drawn at this point in time as to the root cause of the incident.

Air receivers in compressed air systems are used to store compressed air and are an integral part of many amusement park rides. These systems are used to generate momentum on many rides.

Failing to maintain and inspect compressed air systems and air receivers to the applicable Australian Standards can lead to catastrophic failures resulting in series injuries or death or an explosion if they are operated above their design pressure and not fitted with an appropriately sized and maintained relief valve.

Pressure Vessel Testing and Inspection by AME

As seen in the above case study, air compressor pressure vessels are often not given the attention they need when it comes to maintenance.

Regular maintenance and inspection of an air receiver is absolutely imperative, as these inspections ensure that the air receiver is satisfactory for continued use and meets the requirements of State or Territory OHS laws and regulations.

Failure to comply with current pressure vessel standards and regulations can have detrimental effects, either a hefty fine, injuries or fatalities.

Are you aware that air receivers with a Pressure times Volume (PV) of greater than 150 MPaL must have an external inspection every two years and an internal inspection every four years and the relief device must be inspected annually and recalibrated (bench tested) every 4 years.



AME provides comprehensive pressure vessel inspection, testing and registration services to ensure you stay compliant with all legislation and safety standards. We have a team of highly qualified inspectors that can help you maintain compliance with the legislation and standards so you can concentrate on other duties.

What’s included in AME’s Air Receiver Inspections:

  • AME will notify you when your air receiver(s) are due for inspection
  • Inspections in accordance with AS/NZS 3788:2006
  • Safety valve inspections
  • Ultrasonic thickness testing
  • Pressure gauge inspections
  • Detailed report issued with every inspection

Please get in touch for more information.

Also see our Article about: Regular Statutory Inspection of Pressure Vessels.

DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions presented in this article are those of the author. Asset Management Engineers Pty Ltd does not warrant the correctness of the information provided or its fitness for any purpose.