Feds want Sizzler rides inspected

Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2004 9:27 AM | Contributed by supermandl

The federal government on Monday advised owners and operators of Sizzler amusement park rides to stop using them until further inspections are done, following an accident last month that killed a 38-year-old man.

Read more from AP via The Bradenton Herald.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 9:31 AM
Why does the CPSC always want to save us from amusement rides? The fact is, news reports said the accident was caused by an improper bolt on the ride. Furthermore, these rides are inspected in most states before opening, and frequently inspected every day by their owners. Obviously that system failed in this case, but getting the feds involved doesn't eliminate human error.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2004 11:23 AM
Unless there is some reason to believe that the problem with Sizzler's is endemic, this makes no sense. If the manufacturers recommended bolt had failed, or there is good reason to believe that the design would cause maintenance errors to be likely, then this would make sense. However, as I understand it, the problem was negligent maintenance on the part on one company. I don't believe that there is any real reason to believe that other Sizzlers are likely to have the same problem.

This whole thing sounds like a public relations ploy to show that the CPSC is "doing something." I've seen the EPA doing the same thing, looking for things that will get them headlines and ignoring the real serious issues.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004 1:14 PM
Bolts sitting in a govt warehouse somewhere..... $1200 apiece

Govt bureaucrats with nothing else to do but write a comprehensive manual on how to inspect a Sizzler ride..... $ 275,000.

The knowledge that the government is protecting the citizens of the United States from a terrorist attack utilizing flat rides... priceless.

Notice how the media also has to jump on the bandwagon. The first paragraph of the article states, "The federal government on Monday advised owners and operators of spinning amusement park rides to stop using them until further inspections are done..." Not a certain spinning ride, just spinning rides. Anything to fuel a panic and sell papers I suppose.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004 3:31 PM
I'm not sure this is so crazy as all that.

One reasonable inference from the actual bulletin (available at http://www.cpsc.gov/businfo/sizzlerbulletin.pdf) is that problems with the bolts were not obvious from usual inspections, since these are updated bulletins (from Wisdom). Note, for example, the references to installing inspection holes if one is not already installed. My understanding is that it was possible, but difficult, to inspect these bolts without the inspection hole.

Doing this inspection -- which appears not to have been specifically required under Wisdom's prior bulletins -- will also permit operators to find mistakes made by prior owners of the rides. Yes, the problem in this case was with non-standard bolts being used, but there can be problems caught with this inspection that would not have resulted from negligence (or would have resulted from prior owners' negligence).

Another reasonable inference from the bulletin is that while the bolt issues were one factual cause of the accident (and certainly the negligence in issue), it may well be that a welding problem contributed to the extent of harm. Note that checking a weld is a "key" point of the new bulletin. Perhaps having the appropriately-strong internal welds would have prevented the extent of harm in this case. Under this inspection, assuming that inference to be correct, the harm would have been reduced or avoided.

The inspection mandated does not seem to be all that terribly time-consuming of one, incidentally. It's hard to estimate not having the relevant background, but it certainly doesn't look like something that would take more than a day, so it's not like they're requiring a complete teardown and rebuild.

As for the inspections by the operators, the reports made it clear that this was not the sort of problem that any daily inspections would have caught, and indeed the bulletin only requires it to be done annually.

Put briefly: (a) this is a minimal addition and may well catch some stuff that wouldn't otherwise get caught, and (b) it's not clear that the only issue involved in the accident was the bolts, despite the news reports suggesting otherwise.

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Thursday, October 21, 2004 11:38 PM
Actually, when you read the actual CPSC bulletin as Torgo did, this is really a case of the media sensationalizing things. The CPSC is saying that states should requre ride operators to comply with the previously issued bulletin from Wisdom. Of course, the responsible operators have already done this.
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