Safety Corner - June 2022
Safety Corner - June 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.

In this issue of Safety Corner, I wanted to share some thoughts on operator training. Our industry revolves around our employees, and the ride operators are a huge part of what makes a successful company. If the employees are well trained and well cared for, then the guests will have a much better experience at our fair, festival, or carnival.

Are you properly training your employees on all the different areas that they need to be aware of? That's a great question to ask yourself. From the first day an employee is onsite, the atmosphere that surrounds them is part of their training, another word that could be used is the corporate culture. . The attitudes of other employees affect the attitude of the new hires and that of seasoned veterans of the company. We should all try to project a positive attitude towards each other and the company that we are working for. If it is not a happy or openly friendly culture, then that will transfer to the guest experience and affect our bottom line.

Teach your employees to be kind, courteous and attentive to their coworkers, guests, and anyone they may encounter while on the job. This is a building block for a great foundation for the success of the company. Encourage the employees to ask questions if they have them. Encourage the employees to remind others of the goal in providing a fun and safe environment for the guests and their coworkers.

Let's start with how we train our employees on operating the ride. First, familiarize them with the operation of the ride so they understand the forces and nature of the machine. This can be anything from a small children's ride to a super spectacular thrill ride. Importantly, they must understand the type of equipment with which they are dealing.

Teach the employees the potential dangers of the ride to the guest and to operators.  The guest's exposure could be created by not being properly seated during the ride. The operator's potential danger could be standing in a non-designated area during operation. We have all heard stories about employees who walk into the ride envelope during operations and get hurt or tragically, even killed. This must be emphasized to new employees and to those that have been with the company for a long time.  Sometimes people get too comfortable and think they can just run in the envelope and get out before the ride comes back around. This is how accidents happen. Set the company culture so all understand that taking chances with safety is not acceptable.

The employees, whether they are operators or attendants, and yes there is a difference, must be taught the function and purpose of the ride controls. Make sure to teach them the difference between a ride stop and an emergency stop button and when to use each one. Go through the entire control panel, and have them demonstrate the operation to you as part of their training.

Instruct the trainees to be watching the guests or the ride or both as it is operating. We have all seen videos of distracted ride operators on the internet. Use these videos as part of your training process and instruct them that this is not acceptable behavior at your company.

One of the areas that we sometimes overlook in training is how to deal with guests and guests' parents. This is a vital part of ride operator training because there are many times that the employee must interact with a guest that has a complaint or has an issue with the way that our employees have treated them, including the perception of how they were talked to. It is important to teach our employees to never argue or talk disrespectfully to a guest. Unfortunately, in today's world, this has become harder and harder to accomplish.

Parents will attempt to get their child who does not meet the minimum height requirements or is too large to fit the ride's safety restraints to ride.  Teach your employees never allow someone to ride that doesn't meet these minimum requirements. Have them refer the guest to the officer or call on the radio to speak with a supervisor if they continue to argue the point.  It is not the operator's responsibility to set policy.    

Practice different scenarios with your employees and discuss the potential outcomes. Especially when it comes to safety, sometimes the customer is not always right.  Teach  de-escalation tactics to supervisors and instruct your front-line employees to never argue with a guest. They can simply say I'm sorry you feel that way, please go to the office where we can provide additional assistance.

Several parks, carnivals and FECs use foreign labor and there can sometimes be a language barrier.   Teaching simple sayings to these employees will be beneficial to them and to the company.  Training forms that employees sign when inspection or training is completed should be in English and in Spanish if the employee is better at understanding their native language.

Remember, all training must be documented whether it is for a new employee or for a returning employee.  If you don't document it, you didn't do it. Hold refresher meetings for long time employees, hold weekly safety or training meetings and make sure to have an attendance sheet signed by all present. When these documents are reviewed, sometimes years later, it can be hard to figure out who signed, so make sure you include printed name and possibly even employee id numbers.

One great practice is to train with the local fire and rescue teams at an event. This is a great way to practice evacuations of rides and to show the community that you are proactive in safety. Your employees will be better prepared if an event occurs, and they may need to evacuate a ride that has lost power or has had a mechanical problem.

The rides and attractions are mechanical and just like your car or truck, they will break down even with the best maintenance program. Preparing your employees for these potential events makes all the difference.

The goal of this brief article is to remind us to teach our employees to be prepared for potential incidents, to conduct continuing education for all employees and to ensure that they are properly trained for the duties they will perform. Safety culture is taught from the top to the bottom of any organization. Hopefully these words will help create or maintain that culture in your organization.

If you don't feel comfortable doing your training internally, there are third party companies that specialize in training of employees and setting up programs for you to follow. Please investigate reputable companies that can tailor a program for you.

I hope that you gained at least one important piece of information from this piece on safety and it will help make our industry safer and better every day. I can be reached via email at for any questions or comments. Please feel free to provide feed back to help me better communicate.

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