Safety Corner - December 2022
Safety Corner - December 2022
Amusement Warehouse Magazine

Safety Corner is a monthly column published in's Amusement Warehouse Magazine written by Worldwide Safety Group's president, Avery Wheelock. Please consider a subscription to Amusement Warehouse Magazine to read this and more about the Carnival, Fair, and Amusement Park Industry.

This month's article for the IAFE Convention is about safety issues that we see while performing various types of inspections at fairs across the country. We all know and talk about the safety of the rides that are on the midway, but how many people think about the safety of the people who never ride. Some people just come to the fair to enjoy the food or only come to see the livestock or the exhibits or the free acts that most fairs have.


Remember the following are just ideas or areas that we have seen, this is not an all-inclusive list of areas to be concerned with, just a guide of a few key areas to consider.


Our associates perform insurance Underwriting Surveys or Loss Control Surveys as well as work sometimes directly for the fair as safety consultants, so we get to see the good, the bad,  and the ugly.


The first area that fairgoers experience is our parking lots. There are various types of surfaces on different locations and elevations. The most common claim in our industry is slips,trips, and falls.  We all know this, so the parking lot is the first place our guests can do one of those three things. 


We should be aware of the potential hazards that exist in the parking lots such as, but not limited to, potholes in the blacktop, gopher holes in the grass fields, uneven ground with tree roots exposed, changes in elevations at walkways (highlight edges). 


Lighting of the parking lots is a big issue as well. The parking areas should be well lit either by permanent light poles or temporary light towers. If you have added a new parking lot to your fair this year, did you go out and make sure that it was properly illuminated? 


The walkways from the parking lot to the fair also should be well lit. I recently was the onsite safety consultant at a large fair for the duration of the event and observed the pathways that were created for a newly opened parking lot. The first night it was very dark in some areas along the path and additional light towers were added to illuminate the path. The path was also clearly marked with pennant streamers to separate the path from the roadway. These are good ideas to have in place to separate the walking public from the driving public along roadways.


The entrance gate is the next area our guests experience, so we want to make sure that the walkways are clear of potential trip hazards as well. The ticket booths shouldn't have sharp edges at the counters and 

/or windows, and also look for broken light fixtures overhead.


Once the people are into the fair, they go everywhere, including  sometimes places they shouldn't be going. It's our responsibility to try and protect them from themselves. Restricted areas should be identified and blocked off from unauthorized access, this includes areas in exhibit buildings, areas behind the scenes etc. Remember, no one is supposed to see behind the curtain, we have to protect the wizard and the facade of the fair.


The midways, walkways, entrance and exits of buildings should all be reviewed for slips, trips, and falls also. There are so many wires, hoses, and pieces of equipment around the fairgrounds and all can pose an exposure to a potential injury. Now we can't wrap everyone that comes through the gates in bubble wrap, but we can look to reduce the exposures.


In the animal buildings, are we providing covers over wires and hoses that seem to be everywhere for fans or watering the animals? Are the items hanging from the rafters of the building secured with secondary safety attachments in case a sign, fan, or  speaker fall from their mounts.


On the fair's midway including the food, local vendors, and such, make sure that they have their tents secured. It seems like every time a storm rolls through a fairground the pop-up tents go flying around and cause damage. The fair should have a policy in place that every vendor on the grounds secures their tents and if they have shade umbrellas that they are also secured and won't become projectiles in a windstorm.


The carnival midway has some of the same exposures that we look for, some fairgrounds have troughs across the midways to run hoses and wires in. These throughs usually have metal gates across them but at the ends where the wires and hoses come up out of the trough  there sometimes are large gaps creating potential holes that a guest may step in.  This is a good place to put a mat to cover the opening.


If the fair has portable bleachers, they should be inspected regularly, and I always recommend that they be identified (Numbered / Named) for maintenance and inspection purposes. How can you keep track of 50 sets of bleachers at the larger fairs, or even 10 at some smaller fairs, unless they are identified. Maybe this is an area to get sponsorship dollars for the fair and call the bleachers at the racing pigs the Joe's Autobody Shop Bleachers. How can we keep track of replacing panels or fasteners on a bench if we don't identify it. These small details help in a court case to prove we are trying to maintain our equipment.


I always recommend that maintenance / inspection logs are kept for the bleachers as well so that if something happens on a set, we have proof that we don't just pull them out of the weeds and place them around the fairgrounds for the week of the fair. Just like an amusement ride maintenance log helps prove that we maintain the equipment and that they were inspected when set up for the fair.


The fair set up week always sees lots of heavy equipment moving on the grounds.  When we go out to perform an inspection one of the things, we also make a note if the fair employees are wearing a seatbelt on the forklift or another piece of machinery. It is so easy to hit a bump and fly off the seat and potentially be run over or injured. Does the fair have a training program and have the maintenance staff certified as forklift operators? These are questions that only come up after something happens, so I would like to point them out now and maybe it will impact someone in a positive way in the future.


I have had pieces of equipment such as farm tractors and forklifts parked next to a building with the keys left in it during the fair for anyone that knew how to start it to go for a joyride. Does your fair have a policy to always remove the key from equipment and maybe have a hiding spot for it that is not visible to a guest? These are things to think about that could make us a safer industry.


Some fairs have trams that run through the crowds on the midways.  Does your fair have trams and if it does, do you have people walking in front of the tram to clear the path for it? It is sometimes scary to see these trams carrying people around but there are fairs that have had these for years and continue to operate then despite the risks. 


What is your fair's policy about golfcarts on the midways when the fair is open?  Do you have  designated cart paths and a policy in place to control how many carts are being used on the grounds?


These are just a few items to make you think about what your fair is doing to look for exposure. Whether it's just relying on your insurance company to send out someone every few years to see how you're doing or hiring a company to come and be a safety consultant for pre-opening and or an onsite safety team for the duration of the fair, there are many companies that specialize in risk management, and I encourage you to consult with someone if you have any questions or concerns.


I hope that you gained one piece of information from this short piece on safety and can use it to help make our industry safer. I can be reached via email at  or at 813-505-3938 for any questions or comments. Please feel free to provide feedback to help me better communicate these safety related messages. Remember “Our World Revolves Around Safety!”