Safety Corner - November 2022
Safety Corner - November 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 I would like to talk about Amusement Park Safety, we perform a lot of Insurance Underwriting Loss Control Surveys of Parks, Carnivals, Family Fun Centers, etc. and the common thing we see is operators. It doesn't matter if they are operating a large launch coaster, a kiddie ride or a Go-Kart track, the operators that are out there everyday working with this equipment can teach us a lot about what is going on the maintenance team or inspectors might not be aware of.


I encourage you to have your maintenance team members talk to the ride operators and attendants to have an open line of communication so that if they hear something that is not normal, they know that they can relay that information to the appropriate department or supervisor. This may help in down time and or incidents at your facility.


One of the tasks that we get assigned by our clients is operational audits and we do unannounced audits to observe the employees and try to make our findings a learning experience and not a “gotcha” experience. It is eye opening for some facilities to have an outsider come and review their operation, it goes with all kinds of topics, but a fresh set of eyes can see things that eyes that have looked at the same picture for years cannot.


About once or twice a season we see these “undercover investigative reports” on tv where the reporter has caught an operator on a cell phone or not looking at the ride, not performing their duties properly. These reports try to make our industry look bad and raise doubt in the guests' minds about how serious their safety is to the park, carnival, or facility.

Consequently, we as an industry must continue to educate our employees and have checks and balances in place to reduce the possibility of our company being the focus of one of these reports.


Operator training is so important to the safe operation of any ride, device or attraction, this training, and the documentation of it sounds like a broken record, but it is so important. Anyone who has had to defend themselves or their company knows having proof of anything from training to maintenance is key in defense. Remember if you don't document it, you didn't do it.


Another area in parks we look at are the midways and ride queues.  These areas can have potential injury exposures and should be reviewed daily just like inspecting a ride or attraction. We all know the number one insurance claim in our industry is trips and falls, and unfortunately, there are people out there that look for potential tripping hazards and somehow, they just happen to have a friend recording them when they “trip” on this exposure. We as an industry again need to be ahead of the scammers and try to reduce these exposures before they can become claims.


The queue areas also will have theming that can create potential exposures. If you are going to have objects hanging on walls or setting within reach of the guests, make sure they are secured so that a guest can't pick up a set of swords in a pirate themed queue and start a sword fight. The items hanging overhead should have secondary safety wires or chains attached to reduce potential of the item falling onto a guest.


One thing that we see a lot of is sound speakers hanging or mounted by a single point suspension. These speakers vibrate and cause the mounts to come loose and eventually fall. Most companies have a policy, and it has become an industry best practice, to install safety cables to these items however, there are still many out there that do not have safety cables. Recently we observed a facility that had a bunch of new speakers installed by a contractor and they did not install the safety cables even though it was part of the job description in the contract. If you use outside contractors or even have your internal workers performing these installs have a follow up inspection of the installation.


Another hanging thing we see at amusement parks and fairs are large fans to keep the guests cool or animals in the barns cool. These fans become covered in dust and over time will start to vibrate from the fan blades being off balance. This causes the fan to loosen the mounting fasteners and potentially fall on a guest below. If you have these at your facility, implement a routine for cleaning the fans and installing secondary safety cables to the cage of the fan to catch it if it happens to become unfastened from mounts.


Having someone do a walkthrough of your facility looking down for trip hazards can be beneficial to your company by reducing the potential of the exposures. This is very important to do on a regular basis as the ground can shift from frost in the northern climates to tree roots pushing up the ground in areas of large trees.


Having someone do a walkthrough of your facility looking up for potential hazards such as lifeless tree limbs or building eves or gutters that may have come loose in a recent storm or from deteriorated structures is also important. Remember if it is over the public's or even the employee's head, it can be apotential exposure. There are so many other areas to look at in a facility, but I just wanted to touch on a few to get you thinking about things that can improve the overall safety of your facility and our industry.


At the time of this writing, we are at the start of State Fair season and every news channel seems to be looking to get a story on the new food at the fair and the most unsafe ride at the fair. We work for numerous State Fairs as Safety inspectors and will get asked to perform interviews to discuss the safety of the rides at the fair. When asked what the most unsafe ride at the fair is? I always reply “the ride to the fair” this never makes the clip they put on the air, but it is absolutely true. Amusement rides are inherently safe, and the ride to the fair will have more exposure to being harmed than taking Suzie on the Roller Coaster.


I hope that you gained one piece of information from this short piece on safety and can help make our industry safer and better every day. I can be reached via email  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!”

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