Melbourne star still under investigation due to safety concerns

Date: Jan 03, 2014

The iconic Melbourne Star ferris wheel has once again been taken out of service so inspection crews can take a closer look at certain aspects of the tourist attraction and decide if it is safe for public use.

The wheel was shut down by the Victorian WorkCover Authority in 2009, and in late December the attraction opened back up as peak travel season began. However, just 10 days after reopening it, WorkCover shut it down once again after riders complained of serious issues and problems that occurred during their rides.

The Melbourne Herald Sun spoke to some of the families who experienced these terrifying rides dozens of metres up in the sky. Many patrons have experienced similar horror stories, which prompted WorkCover to begin the current investigation.

"A member of the public has made a complaint in relation to an incident on the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel," wheel spokesman Peter Flaherty said.

"Victorian WorkCover Authority has spoken with the company and is making further inquiries."

The experts weigh in on engineering issues

Melbourne Star Management Group, which takes care of the wheel's maintenance, said it is taking the complaints seriously and plans to deploy a team of experts to uncover what exactly happened in the affected pods.

"We have hugely sophisticated engineering and electrical systems in place for each individual cabin and are able to monitor and isolate exactly what happens and when during every cabin's rotation," he said.

"We have provided all this information to WorkCover and will continue to work with them while the complaint is investigated."

The wheel has suffered serious problems virtually from the day it opened. The structure, which rises 120 metres into the sky, was originally shut down on a month after opening in 2009 when an intense heat wave lasted three days.

The extreme heat caused the supports to buckle and crack, prompting the first investigation.

In addition to passenger complaints, reports have shown that the wheel's management system also gave an "early warning" that was triggered twice since reopening in December. However, management personnel have not yet uncovered what exactly triggered the alarms.

Mr Kelly asserted that just because one pod may be affected, it does not impact the safety of the 20 other cabins in which passengers can ride.

The tourism sector is home to many public liability injury claims, which may arise during accidents on structures such as the Melbourne Star.

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