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‘No evidence’ of failings in Falls crush, finds Vic govt

Promoter Ash Sounds/Secret Sounds fulfilled its safety obligations to Falls Festival patrons in Lorne, WorkSafe Victoria has ruled

By Jon Chapple on 07 Nov 2017

Falls Festival 2017, Lorne

The festival site in Lorne


image © Falls Festival

WorkSafe Victoria, an agency of the state government of Victoria, Australia, has dropped its investigation into the organisers of Falls Festival, finding there is “insufficient evidence” to pursue a prosecution over the crowd crush last December.

The incident, which left 76 people injured (initially reported as 80), 19 of them seriously, occurred after a performance by DMA’s on Friday 30 December when large crowds attempted to exit the Grand Theatre in Lorne through a small exit, recently narrowed further by the construction of a new bar.

In an interview with The Guardian in January, victim Tim Hunt described the stampede as being “like a riptide”, speaking of his horror at people’s screams and “bones snapping from [the] pressure”. Festival co-producer Jessica Ducrou said the festival was “completely devastated” by the incident and promised to launched its own investigation into the causes.

In addition to a private class-action lawsuit on behalf of injured festivalgoers, organiser Ash Sounds – a division of promoter Secret Sounds – faced an inquiry by WorkSafe Victoria, which was investigating possible offences under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act.

“All the conditions … such as crowd control, crowd size, and positioning and size of exits, had been met

Announcing the results of the investigation yesterday, WorkSafe says it has determined there is “insufficient evidence” to pursue a prosecution, finding that “all the conditions imposed by various bodies in relation to the event, such as crowd control, crowd size, and positioning and size of exits, had been met” by Ash Sounds.

WorkSafe visited the festival site shortly after the incident and requested changes to its lay-out to prevent future crowd surges, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

“As a result, WorkSafe found there was insufficient evidence to establish any offence under the 2004 OHS Act and no further action will be taken,” concludes WorkSafe’s statement.

The class-action suit, meanwhile, which seeks unspecified damages from Secret Sounds, is still ongoing.

Live Nation acquired a 51% stake in Secret Sounds last December.

 


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