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Aussie trampoline business stresses safety compliance after UK franchise's 'total disregard' for customer welfare

Flip Out Australia says a piece of apparatus that caused 11 broken backs at a UK franchise has never been used in Australia.

A popular trampoline park business with 21 venues across Australia has reassured customers there is nothing to worry about after the operators of one of the brand's UK franchises were found to have had a "total disregard" for safety regulations.

Flip Out first opened in Sydney's west in 2012 and has since expanded to over 100 venues globally.

The owners of one of the overseas franchises in the UK city of Chester last month pleaded guilty to health and safety offences and now face potential jail time after a string of injuries at their park between 2016 and 2017, including 11 broken spines.

Many of the injuries occurred on a piece of equipment called The Tower Jump, where customers jumped four metres into a pit filled with foam. Injuries were occurring daily, and so frequent, that the local hospital moved to investigate a spike in admissions linked to the franchise.

Two former directors of a popular trampoline and adventure park face punishment after scores of visitors were
David Shuttleworth and Matthew Melling, former directors of Flip Out Chester, could face prison time over health and safety offences. Source: MEN Media

'Safety is of paramount importance' at Australian venues

However, Flip Out Australia Managing Director Steven Stone told Yahoo News Australia venues in Australia "have never installed any free fall device" like the one previously in use at the Chester franchise. Stone stressed Flip Out Australia is "Australian owned and operated independently of any other country".

"Safety is of paramount importance, and we have invested significantly in team training, systems and processes which are consistently audited to ensure compliance," he said.

Flip Out Australia has previously faced several lawsuits in relation to injuries sustained at its locations, including from Frankie Kuzba, who broke his neck in four places while landing in a foam pit at Flip Out Warrawong in 2015.

One of Australia's Flip Out locations in Caringbah, Sydney. Source: Flip Out
One of Australia's Flip Out locations in Caringbah, Sydney. Source: Flip Out

"I went straight through and hit my head … 96kg straight onto my head," he said, according to the Daily Telegraph. "I heard my neck crunch and my ears were ringing real loud — at first I thought I had died."

Guests to Flip Out venues are required to sign a waiver before using apparatus inside. Flip Out Australia previously told the Daily Telegraph that "given the very nature of the activity it is important for all guests to ­appreciate that it is an activity in which injury can occur".

After David Shuttleworth and Matthew Melling, both 33, pleaded guilty to health and safety offences at Chester Crown Court on October 9, Cheshire West and Chester Cabinet Member for Homes, Planning and Safer Communities Christine Warner said the offences at the Chester franchise were taken very seriously.

"Our Public Protection team always deal strongly with businesses who put residents or visitors to the borough at risk. This business had a total disregard for safety regulations," she said.

The pair will be sentenced at a date yet decided.

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