Trampoline park bosses could face jail after multiple injuries - how safe are they?

David Shuttleworth and Matthew Melling, both 33, pleaded guilty to health and safety offences while in charge of Flip Out Chester trampoline park.

A nurse who broke her back at a trampoline park is
The trampoline park at Flip Out Chester, where a number of people were injured between December 2016 and February 2017. (Wales News Service)

Two former bosses of a trampoline park could face jail after 11 people broke their backs at their venue.

A number of young people suffered injuries at Flip Out Chester during a seven-week period between December 2016 and February 2017.

This included 11 people who sustained fractured spines, a court heard.

David Shuttleworth and Matthew Melling, both 33, who ran the park, pleaded guilty at Chester Crown Court last month to health and safety offences.

The court was told that Cheshire West And Chester Council's public protection team carried out an investigation into 270 incidents at Flip Out Chester, where people were injured on a "daily basis".

Two former directors of a popular trampoline and adventure park face punishment after scores of visitors were
David Shuttleworth and Matthew Melling, who ran Flip Out Chester, pleaded guilty to health and safety offences after a number of visitors were seriously injured. (Reach)

A number of people suffered significant injuries on a piece of equipment called the Tower Jump at the venue in Chester Gates Business Park.

Three people suffered fractured spines jumping from the 13ft-high tower into a pit filled with foam blocks in a single day.

Shuttleworth, from Barlaston, Staffordshire, and Melling, from Spinningfields, Manchester, both pleaded guilty on 9 October to failing to prevent visitors being exposed to risk.

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The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports with a date yet to be fixed. The pair could face a prison sentence and substantial fines.

Shuttleworth resigned as director of the business in July 2018 while Melling quit in January 2020, Companies House records show.

Flip Out Chester is now operated by a different franchisee.

Christine Warner, Cheshire West And Chester Council's cabinet member for safer communities, said: "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.

"Injuries in this case included 11 fractured spines, as well as other serious injuries. Those injured on a daily basis included both adults and children."

One of those injured on the Tower Jump was Liza Jones, 26, from Wrexham, Wales, who launched legal action after she suffered a fractured spine.

A nurse who broke her back at a trampoline park is
Liza Jones, right, suffered a fractured spine after using the Tower Jump at Flip Out Chester in 2017. (Wales News Service)

She told the Mail Online: "I'm glad they've faced court action because I could have been left paralysed.

"I landed in the way I'd been told to, but I was one of three people who suffered broken backs that day.

"People visiting these centres may feel they're safe because they've got rules for people to follow, but that's just not true.

"The firms that are running them need to learn from this and ensure they've got proper health and safety in place."

How safe are trampoline parks in the UK?

Trampolines are responsible for half of A&E admissions in children under the age of 14 in the UK, a study has found.

The research by the University of Sydney, published in the British Medical Journal's (BMJ) Injury Prevention in June 2022, examined 11 studies across the world.

The UK study, which looked at A&E admissions among children under 14 in Oxfordshire between January 2012 to March 2014, showed that 50% were because of trampoline injuries.

A nurse who broke her back at a trampoline park is
The Flip Out Chester trampoline park where 11 people suffered fractured spines. (Wales News Service)

Researchers said children are more likely to suffer a serious injury and require hospital treatment by using equipment at a trampoline park than they are using a trampoline at home.

The need for surgery was almost twice as high for injuries sustained at a trampoline park, while children using trampoline parks were more than twice as likely to sustain orthopaedic and musculoskeletal injuries than those using a home trampoline.

However, researchers said there were fewer arm injuries, cuts and concussions among children using trampoline parks compared to those using trampolines at home.