Amusement ride inspection now TDLWD responsibility
With millions of visitors to Tennessee expected to make their way to amusement parks, county fairs, and carnivals this summer, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has announced it will conduct inspections to ensure amusement rides are mechanically safe.
Labor department staff will inspect all rides at stationary parks twice a year and will inspect rides at traveling carnivals or fairs randomly. If an amusement ride is considered unsafe, the inspector will have the authority to “red tag” a ride, shutting it down until repairs are made.
“The advantage of the required inspection is there will be another set of eyes looking at amusement rides,” said Robbie Fox, Safety and Security director for Dollywood, which has had independent, third-party inspections of the park’s rides for years. “Anytime that is done, it makes the industry safer.”
“We want parents and visitors to know that these rides are in safe working order,” said Commissioner Neeley. “I have grandchildren myself, and I feel better knowing there are second and third parties inspecting these rides to check for potential hazards.”
The new state law (TCA 68-121-101), effective Jan.1, 2009, requires employers operating amusement rides to provide a certificate of insurance, annual permit, inspection history, and proof that operators are adequately trained. In addition to allowing inspections, the law establishes the Elevator and Amusement Device Safety Board.
“This process is similar to the 12,500 elevator inspections that our department conducts twice a year,” said Arthur Franklin, Jr., Administrator of Workplace Regulations and Compliance. “We estimate there are 120 stationary rides, and each year there are approximately 60 fairs and carnivals that set up mobile amusement devices.”
The law requires operators of amusement rides to pay annual fees that will cover expenses for the inspections ranging from $25 to $200 depending on the size and time required to properly inspect the ride.
“There are many expectations with this new law,” said Representative Richard Montgomery who sponsored the bill. “Riders expect to be safe, owners can expect a more thorough evaluation of their equipment and Tennessee should expect fewer accidents.”
Amusement rides are defined as mechanical devices that carry a person for the purpose of giving amusement. The term includes, but is not limited to, roller coasters, Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, glasshouses and walk-through dark houses. Examples of rides not included in the inspections are wavepools, go-karts, skateboard ramps and bungee cords.
Send comments to Ron.Sidler@tn.gov or call (615) 741-6642.