Delivering Safety Across Our Attractions

Role of Operational Management

Each of our attractions has in place a clear and comprehensive Health and Safety Policy, which describes the priority placed on all health and safety matters, and goes on to outline the attraction’s organisation and arrangements for effectively managing health, safety and security risks, including specific detail on roles and responsibilities of leadership and management.

Operational management at each of our attractions are responsible for, and integral to, all health, safety and security matters; and they are supported by either on-site or regional health and safety, and fire safety, specialists. As part of their role and management objectives, operational management must maintain detailed risk registers and develop detailed action plans to prevent or mitigate risks.

Each attraction is required to have in place Major Incident and Emergency Response Plans. These plans are regularly reviewed by management, with supporting exercises and on-site drills. Major attractions have long-standing and collaborative relationship with local/regional Emergency Services and annual, multi-service, exercises are regularly planned and completed. Such exercises generally include major ride rescue and evacuation simulations.

Each attraction also has resident Medical / First Aid trained resource and associated facilities and our staff are always on hand to ensure a quick and professional response to whatever the medical or ill-health needs are of our guests.

Our Leadership Team for Safety and Engineering

The design, management and leadership of our health, safety and security strategy and programmes is overseen by our Group Health, Safety and Security and Director, who maintains close contact with the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman.

Our Group Health, Safety and Security Director is supported and assisted by operational line management as well as a dedicated and experienced team of health, safety and security professionals. Based across our attractions and regional businesses globally our team of health, safety and security experts help drive, advise, support and audit each attraction so that high levels of compliance are maintained and thought leadership remains constant.

Dominic Wigley, Group Health, Safety and Security Director

Dominic joined Merlin Entertainments Plc in 2014 and is responsible for advocating and delivering high standards, thought leadership and best practice across the Group.

Dominic’s health, safety and security experience in both the engineering and entertainment sectors means he is well placed to lead the health, safety and security discipline at Merlin Entertainments. Having worked for one of the UK’s leading engineering and infrastructure company’s, Amey Limited (part of the Ferrovial Group), where he was responsible for overseeing health, safety and security in their infrastructure services business, he gained significant knowledge and expertise of design, construction and engineering standards.

Prior to working at Amey Limited, Dominic worked at Sky Television and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), helping to oversee both their UK and international operations and the safety and security risks associated with them. Dominic helped managed challenging and unique risks on a regular basis, including war zone journalistic reporting, the performance of high-risk stunts and special effects for TV dramas, and the filming of natural wildlife in remote and dangerous locations around the world.

Dominic holds a 1st Class Degree (BSc with Honours) in Occupational Safety, Health and Environmental Management, and an associated Master’s Degree (with Distinction) in European Law. Dominic retains Chartered status with the UK’s professional body - the Institution of Safety and Health (IOSH).


Working alongside our Health, Safety and Security team, and given our continued expansion around the world, Merlin Entertainments has a central engineering support function lead by our Group Engineering Director, who is responsible for ensuring the safe design, installation and maintenance of our rides and facilities.

Dawn Elson, Group Engineering Director

Dawn joined Merlin in 2016 following a career based in the UK military and the aerospace industry. Having spent 23 years resulting in senior engineering positions in the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF), Dawn left the military and became Head of Engineering at London’s Gatwick Airport. Whilst in this role Dawn was responsible for leading a programme of transformational activities that enabled the airport to grow beyond 40 million passengers per year without the addition of a second runway. A cornerstone of this programme was a suite of capital works exceeding £100 million.

During her time at the RAF, Dawn led a number of engineering teams culminating in her position of Officer Commanding of Engineering and Logistics where she was responsible for the engineering and maintenance of five fleets of spy planes around the world for which she had a team of nearly 1,000 technicians deployed globally.

In addition to her Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Dawn holds an MBA and a Master’s Degree in Defence Studies. She is a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Women’s Engineering Society. Dawn has received the Confederation of British Industry’s First Women Award and has been ranked in the Top 50 most influential female engineers in the UK by the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Health & Safety at Merlin Entertainments Attractions

Ride and Facilities Engineering

All of our attractions have in place a structured and formalised programme for the scheduling and completion of all maintenance works on plant and equipment - both on rides and facilities/building assets.

Each resort attraction utilises a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) where all repair works are logged and managed through to completion and from which maintenance performance is monitored.

Following all applicable legal requirements, each of our amusement rides are managed for safety through their asset lifetime. Our operational, engineering and safety processes, together with our quality checks and inspections typically cover:

  1. Designing, manufacturing and testing;
  2. Transporting, assembling, installing and commissioning;
  3. Operating, cleaning, maintaining, inspecting and testing; and
  4. Day-to-day use by guests

We implement the requirements of the UK’s regulatory standard for Ride Safety, HSG 175, entitled “Fairgrounds and Amusement Parks – Guidance on safe practice” as well as the European Standard EN 13814 entitled “Safety of amusement rides and amusement devices”, together with other applicable legislation and industry standards in territories outside of the UK and Europe.

HSG 175, endorsed by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, provides best practice guidance and sets out what safety measures should be implemented by theme park operators. Similarly, European Standard EN 13814 governs the operation and maintenance of fairground and amusement park machinery and structures as well as training for operators and employees. This standard also sets safety requirements for the manufacture and operations of such installations and is intended to interface with national codes within EU member countries, or signatories to the EN Standard.

Our attractions maintain a series of Codes of Safe Working Practice covering ride operations, and have in place robust emergency plans and procedures, which are regularly tested.

Ride Safety Engineering

All rides are managed for safety through their life cycle and we ensure these constantly comply with all applicable legislation and industry standards.

A full and comprehensive rolling programme of maintenance checks, tests and inspections, monitoring and logging of ride safety and performance measurement is an inherent part of each ride engineering team’s duties. These include:

  • Daily Inspections of safety critical elements of each ride, for example the integrity of passenger restraint systems, brakes and emergency devices.
  • Planned Maintenance where regular servicing take place either out of park operating hours or during the day, for example where a ride vehicle is relocated to the maintenance workshop for its scheduled examination and service.
  • Predictive Maintenance is carried out during operating hours, assessing a ride’s functionality and performance. Ride engineers will use their experience and the latest technology to monitor and evaluate ride performance, looking either at the overall operation of the ride or certain equipment within it.
  • Reactive Tasks often relate to ride stoppages activated automatically by the ride’s computer control system and which can occur for numerous reasons throughout the day. Attending engineers will be competent in all relevant technical aspects of the ride and will investigate the cause and undertake the necessary corrective action. Safety inspections and checks will then be followed before the ride can be put back into operation.
  • Shutdown Preparation involves planning for ‘In-service Inspection’ and ‘Annual Maintenance’ activities, undertaken while the ride is shut down and taken out of service.
    • In-service Inspections require an independent and competent Inspection Body (IB) to annually check the condition and suitability of a ride for continuing safe use. This includes thorough examination of all safety critical components.
    • Annual Maintenance takes place alongside the In-service Inspections, with the engineering team carrying out work on each ride in line with manufacturer’s recommendations, replacing components where required.
  • On completion of the In-service Inspection, annual maintenance and function testing processes a Declaration of Operational Conformity (or similar safety certificate) will be issued if the Inspection Body is satisfied with the condition of the ride. Only when such certification is issued can the ride be operated.

Contractor Safety

Contractor safety, and the safety of our business partners, is of critical importance to us. All contractors undergo a safety vetting and pre-qualification process.  They are provided with relevant health and safety information prior to them starting work, with risk assessment documents (or similar) completed and reviewed.

We then put in place arrangements to ensure contractor activities are appropriately supervised and controlled when on-site, and that their performance during the completion of such contracted works is regularly monitored and audited.

Construction Safety

We recognise our responsibility to ensure high standards of health, safety and welfare are maintained on all of our construction projects across the world.

Our work on safety starts as soon as we begin to contemplate a new attraction or product. We establish and use a local network of trusted professionals and support resource to help us understand construction practices in that location and ensure we can find quality local contractors.

During the selection of the contractors, HSS performance is one of the key elements we look at when undertaking the tendering process, assessing a contractor’s health and safety management systems, practices and details about how they will comply with both local legal requirements and our expectations. Site inspections and audits by our project managers, health and safety teams and external consultants help us to ensure that our rigorous standards are met.

Food Safety and Hygiene

We have in place a detailed and prescriptive Food Safety Manual that provides clear direction for management at each attraction on how to address food safety and food hygiene risks.

This manual adopts the best practice approach associated with the international Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.

All of our attractions are regularly independently assessed by food safety specialists for compliance against the requirements of the Food Safety Manual.

Attraction Security

We adhere to strict and rigorous policies when it comes to protecting the security and welfare of our guests. Our people are trained to be vigilant and responsive to any threat and execute well-rehearsed procedures to alert the relevant authorities. Furthermore, we maintain both active and passive security protocols across our attractions in order to maintain the integrity of our physical boundaries and operations/assets within

Security risk assessments help ensure that we deploy the appropriate technology, techniques and resources commensurate to the threat, challenge or risk.

As the types of threats and risks evolve we work closely with local police and governmental security agencies to ensure appropriate intelligence is shared and attraction based security protocols remain suitable, proportional and robust.

Security measures are continually reviewed and changes and updates are made regularly.