Investigation suggests lap bars might not have been checked in Tokyo Dome fatality

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Following last weekend's fatal accident at Tokyo Dome City, investigative sources said there were no specific instructions in the manual about confirming that the safety bar for each passenger is fastened before starting the ride, adding that the confirmation steps had only been taught "verbally" by one worker to another, including part-time employees.

Read more from The Japan Times.

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kpjb's avatar

Damn straight.


Skorts are like sporks. A combination of two ideas that on their own are perfectly fine but put together just don't work.

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My original point was that what is and is not written in the paper manual is pointless as it pertains to checking safety bars. At some level there has to be a common sense understanding...specifically to the level you are writing for. I'm going to go ahead and assume that somebody with the ability/responsibility to read a ride manual would have the common sense to check safety bars. Whether that was written or not written is irrelevant. Just as I'm guessing that it was not written in that manual..."please remember to breath."

Moment to note that IF the manual says a computer checks restraints, or similar...then we are talking a completely different scenario. The article does not make mention that this is the case. The article appears to put great effort to make us believe that an omission in the manual is a concern in regards to this tragedy.

If it is determined that safety bar checking is a causative factor the responsible party is probably the ride operator...unless this person was never trained. And even without training...what else would a ride operator not manning the controls be in the station for if not to ensure safety?

I see the inclusion of what is written in the manual as an attempt to place a higher blame than the individual responsible. Again...pure speculation in response to a speculative article!

Personally I find it extremely difficult to believe that an operator's manual for a rollercoaster does not include a statement on checking the restraints.

Saying that, I am wondering if the 'translation' to Japanese somehow got lost.

Fever I really enjoy the Simpsons. It's just a shame that I am starting to LOOK like Homer.

SVLFever said:
Personally I find it extremely difficult to believe that an operator's manual for a rollercoaster does not include a statement on checking the restraints.

I know it's not the same manufacturer but in B&M's manual for Batman the Dark Knight (@SFNE) there is a statement in bold letters which reads:

"CAUTION: Before each ride with passengers it is absolutely necessary to check that the harnesses and safety belts are locked and no motion is allowed.

Failure to do this control can result in severe or fatal injuries."

There is a difference between "checking" and "securing." I know us enthusiasts hate stapling restraints, but remember what can be at stake. Many park employees just run by tapping restraints in which a fly could apply more pressure. A real check means a good tug on the restraint to make sure it is not only secured but in the proper position.

In terms of the Maurer Schone spinning car, proper position is key for safety. From experience at Waldameer, the lapbar is quite awkward for even a shorter person such as myself because of the low seating position and raised knees. A good operater makes sure the bar is as low as it comfortably goes, a careless one taps the handle and gives a thumbs up. I have had several instances when I could comfortably get several clicks after the operator approves dispatch.

In the case of the manual dispute. Shouldn't not checking restraints fall under the park's negligence because they are responsible for the safety of their rides as well as making sure their patrons are safe? The general guest isn't an expert in mechanics or trained to operate a ride, so it is the responsibility of the operator to ensure proper/safe riding procedure.

Jason Hammond's avatar

LostKause said:
Can you imagine trying to securing and checking your own restraints on a Vekoma Flyer, for example?

I know you were just using it as an example. But, I can actually fully close the restraints on the Vekoma Flyers with no assistance. I pull the lower restraint in with my feet until it's close enough to grab with my hands.

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LostKause's avatar

You must be some kind of contortionist then, Hammond. ;)

No, he's not; I have done the same thing. It's a useful skill if you want to make sure the lap bar is nice and tight, as the operators usually have their priorities mixed up...not getting the lap bar tight enough, while making the shoulder harness too tight.

It also helps to pull the lap bar back before securing the shoulder harness.

As for the Maurer spin coaster car...

The raised knees are kind of critical. For the lap bar to function properly, it isn't necessary for it to be tight, but it needs to be down past the knees so that it can *geometrically* prevent the rider from coming out of the car. The key isn't friction, it's geometry.

That said, given the design of the seat and lap bar, I'd like to see some kind of experimental reconstruction similar to what we saw in the Flight Commander incident to determine whether it is possible for a rider to be thrown from the seat without the lap bar coming open.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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DaveStroem's avatar

Jerry said:
I need to sticky this story for all the folks who whined/made light about Cedar Fair employees saying the redundant "Check" when checking restraints...

I was at a CF park (Carowinds)when they sent our train out without checking our restraints. Worse yet, they were locked in the up position. Luckily it was the Carolina Goldrusher and not some other ride. I spent the whole lap holding on to my daughter.

Before you can be older and wiser you first have to be young and stupid.

I bet there were some serious complaints made at the end of that ride cycle.

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^^ I encountered two similar situations on two different rides during my only trip to that park in 08. The stand up dispatched with a child standing unrestrained in one of the rows, but was caught before the train had even moved ten feet. The drop tower was cleared but not dispatched with a child standing inside the gates.

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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