Amusement Ride Manufacturers & Operators: A Flawed System

Rollercoaster safety at amusement parks

In response to an article titled: Ride experts call 11-year-old Pleasantville girl’s fatal fall from Wildwood’s Morey’s Pier Ferris wheel a freak occurrence – By RICHARD DEGENER and DAN GOOD 

Amusement ride operator safety proceduresThe standard rhetoric spewed by manufacturers and operators highlights meeting the requirements for the posting of signage, height requirements, mechanical specifications and regulations. These are all very necessary and meaningful components of the industry, but meeting those requirements alone does not mean that they provided the safest ride possible. It means that the basic industry requirements were met. Manufacturers provide vital operational information, safety procedures, and inspection criteria to operators of amusement rides and/or devices. When the manufacturer passes along information that is faulty or incomplete, sells a ride that may or may not meet specific design criteria or was not appropriately tested before being placed in the stream of commerce, serious incidents/accidents can, do and will occur.

The owner or operator uses the information as supplied by the manufacturer as their roadmap to develop standard operating procedures, implement formal inspection criteria, project staffing requirements, and much more. When the foundation as provided by a manufacturer has weak links in it so will the owner or operator’s operational safety program. It is understandable there can be unforeseen issues with the manufacture and operation of an amusement ride or device; machinery wears out, breaks, and fails – design flaws and operational oversights emerge. However, a number of the incidents/accidents that have surfaced over the last 10-plus years are a combination of design flaws and operational oversights—pure and simple. The bottom-line— just because requirements are present and accounted for does not mean they are adequate. The industry must utilize the information from previous incidents/accidents to eliminate or further reduce the potential for similar situations occurring. In select situations the expense to correct the identified issue(s) might be significant, but ultimately, I believe saving a life is worth the expense.

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Brian D. Avery has over twenty five years of experience in the events, tourism and attractions industry. His background is comprised of three areas of expertise: risk and safety management, event design and execution, and education. Brian routinely is asked to speak on the topic of event and attraction safety and provide expert testimony.
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