The summer and fall seasons are notoriously known for state fairs and carnivals that attract swarms of tourists and locals every year.
It’s the season of thrills for children and teenagers. Rides like the Zipper, Tilt-A-Whirl, and Scrambler, which are carnival regulars, often provide hours of entertainment and delight.
But who is making sure that these traveling rides are properly maintained, set up and operated?
Saturday, a ride malfunction in Huntington, WV sent three people to the hospital when one of the legs of the popular ride “The Spider” broke and fell to the ground. The park was shut down immediately following the carnival ride accident. According to the West Virginia Division of Labor, the ride had last been inspected on May 4.
Last month at the San Diego County fair a teenage girl was airlifted to the hospital after the Techno Power ride stopped, and then suddenly started up again as passengers were getting off. The Techno Power ride is a multi-armed spinning ride with three sets of two seats at the end of each arm that also spin.
To prevent serious injuries such as these, the director of the SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation that conducts inspections for amusement rides says “two sets of eyes” will soon be required. But South Carolina still lags behind North Carolina in how often inspections are completed and how they are documented.
After the fatal March 19th train accident in Spartanburg, the agency is finding ways to strengthen the inspection process to ensure safety. The major change involves adding another level of oversight. Starting September 1st, state auditors will begin checking over every inspection to make sure the inspector has not missed anything.
In South Carolina, rides are only inspected once a year — no matter how many times they are taken apart in one location and set up in another. That needs to change. After disassembling a ride, lugging it down the highway and reassembling it in a different place, it needs to be inspected again.
Catherine Templeton, director of the state agency suggests parents use common sense when it comes to transportable carnival rides. If it looks unsafe, don’t ride it. Also, look for the ride’s certification, which is required by law to be posted. If you don’t see it, ask for it.