California's Great America fined $70,200 for low zone accident on Flight Deck

Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2015 8:44 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health announced Monday a $70,200 citation for an accident that critically injured a mechanic in June at the California's Great America amusement park in Santa Clara. The park's owner did not have safety protocols or properly train workers to make sure the ride was shut down before retrieving a phone, according to Cal/OSHA.

Read more from KGO/San Francisco.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 8:47 AM

I find it pretty hard to believe that there weren't protocols in place, or that training wasn't provided. We all know Cedar Fair pretty well, to the extent we know they can be over-cautious even. Speculation is speculation, but I would imagine the guy made a bad decision despite training and protocol.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015 11:39 AM

Not sure how it worked at other coasters, but if I'm remembering correctly the keys for ops' padlocks for Blue Streak low zones were on the same ring as the key for the control panel. And I also seem to remember there being two padlocks on the chains around the gate of each low zone. One that maintenance could open at night and one for ops during the day. Maintenance would open theirs in the morning and replace with ours, and then then at night we would open ours and after checking each one for lost items would close the maintenance one on the chain leaving ours open. If maintenance had to do something during the day in a low zone we powered down, they took the keys, and then powered back up after they were done. The only "loose" keys we had were for the Pirates closet where cleaning supplies and some skeletons were kept (reciting Hamlet may or may not have happened on occasion in that closet with said skeletons).

I wouldn't be surprised if each park has it's own way of locking out low zones, but I would be surprised if during the operating day the only low zone key(s) to be used weren't on the same key ring as the key that lives in the control panel power slot. The lack of any kind of lock/tag out would be extremely surprising to me.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015 1:57 PM

See, I would be very surprised if different parks did it differently. Remember the thing where they imposed the forced riding breaks for ERT? That was a corporate wide thing. I hear from people that there have been a number of attempts at "consistency" in different disciplines just because, regardless of context. Safety seems like one of the few areas where it makes sense.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015 2:24 PM

I wasn't aware of the ERT riding breaks. Must have been after the Coasting For Kids that I participated in. It would make sense to standardize on safety, but sometimes things just get overlooked. If the double locks thing is (still) standard across all the coasters at Cedar Point it very well could be that the practice wasn't shared because it was seen as a minor point in other safety issues they were looking at, and that one lock is enough. Now, I think you have to have the only key for a single lock on the same ring as the power key during operation, but that's also something I could see being overlooked as a small detail.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015 11:27 PM

Weird that this incident didn't get much/any publicity around here in Santa Clara where I live. I'm usually all up on the Great America gossip but don't remember hearing about this incident. However the other incident that was referenced... the one with an employee falling from a ladder while inspecting SkyFlyer... that is just ridiculous that a fine was issued. From what I was told, an employee fell off a ladder during an inspection, while 2 other people were standing around the ladder either holding it steady or spotting. So what.. they're supposed to have a whole gang of people surrounding ladders now, to form a human net in case someone falls? I feel like sometimes a workplace accident can happen without having to hold someone accountable financially. Dude fell off a ladder.. I'm sure he doesn't even care about it anymore.

I work for a large drug store/pharmacy company. A few years ago one of my assistants fell off a ladder and broke his arm. Company paid for all his medical bills of course, but there was no OSHA inspection or anything. Sometimes dumbasses just fall off ladders haha.

Last edited by GooDFeLLoW, Wednesday, December 16, 2015 11:31 PM
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Thursday, December 17, 2015 12:15 PM

CalOSHA had a reputation tho.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015 6:52 PM

As with the other accidents on inverts, people seem to instinctively think they're safe when they're *below* the rails.

Strange though, kinda figured employees would have enough experience with the rides to overcome that...

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