New ride safety standards up for vote in trade group

Posted Wednesday, October 30, 2002 3:35 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Safety standards requiring more elaborate restraints on new models of roller coasters and even on slower rides are being voted on by a trade group that includes theme park giants such as Walt Disney Co., attraction manufacturers and owners of traveling carnivals. The sweeping set of proposed ride guidelines -- 80 pages long -- has been three years in the drafting by a committee of the American Society for Testing Materials.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002 4:14 AM

Why would disney do this, are they getting upset at Regional Parks? Or just Amusment Parks?

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 4:42 AM

Vernom - I think that they were just using Disney's (and Universal's) names as they are they key amusement park players in Orlando. They really mean a committee of amusement parks, carnivals, and manufacturers are working together.

I would be interested in reading this proposal, does anyobdy hapen to know if its on-line for public viewing? (and if so, where?)

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David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 5:13 AM
The ASTM F 24 Standards is the basis for a great many of the states inspection guidelines. It is not available to view, although it can be purchased from them .(I seem to recall that our copy cost in the $50-75 range.)In CA an owner/operator of a permanent amusement ride is required to have a copy on file.
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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 5:32 AM
Jeff's avatar

Disney isn't out to get anyone, what would give you that idea? They're with most of the industry in accepting a higher standard.

I find the quote from the carnival guy entertaining. When was the last time you saw capacity as an issue for a carnival operator?

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
"There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, when it's all in your mind. You gotta let go." - Ghetto, Supreme Beings of Leisure

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 5:50 AM

Several notes:

F24 is also avaialable as part of a volume that includes other standards related to amusement rides and their manufacturing. If you want the new F24 though, don't run out and buy anything now. It will be quite a while before it hits the street. See below on approval process.

This committee has something like 300 voting members. (A huge number for this sort of committee.) It sure isn't just a Disney thing. The members include representatives from manufacturers, operators, consultants, and regulators.

The ASTM approval procedures make it more difficult to deal with negative votes on a new standard than with most other standards organizations. With 300 voting members it will probably take 6 months to several years to get all of the negatives resolved.

Kathy Fackler at Safer Parks has a page that gives some insight on the approval process. If it sounds confusing that's because it is. http://www.saferparks.org/astm_Oct02.htm

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 6:11 AM
"I find the quote from the carnival guy entertaining. When was the last time you saw capacity as an issue for a carnival operator?"

At most of the carnivals/fairs I visited this year without POP (Wisconsin and Florida State Fairs, North Georgia and Mid-South Fairs) capacity was a very big deal. The popular rides like the Top Scan, Music Express, Flying Bobs, Afterburner, Chance Wheels, etc. had very large staffs because the more people each crew gets through an hour the more money the carnival makes. For instance, I saw 8 people working the Reverchon Himalaya at the North Georgia State Fair (one taking tickets, one running the ride and 6 people on the deck loading and unloading). The Afterburners have 4 or 5 people running them during busy times.

While it is true that the smaller carnivals don't really need to worry about this, it is important for people running large state fairs. Obviously staffing varies depending on how busy the fair is. But, I know that when I was at the Florida State Fair this year the midway was packed and the waits for the large attractions lasted around 30-45 minutes with people being pumped in and out of the rides. The time between the Afterburner's restraints were raised and it was swinging again was around 1 minute or so.

Adam
http://history.amusement-parks.com

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 6:58 AM
Capacity is a huge concern for a big carnival, as Adam pointed out, because that's how the carnival makes its money. Likewise for some of the smaller parks (Knoebels, anyone?). And I've seen how some of the attitude of the proposed standard as described in the news story and on saferparks.org can destroy ride capacity (anybody ridden the Beastie this year or last?).

The thing that bothers me most...and having not read the current version of the draft standard, I don't know if it is a problem as written or not, but it seems to be a problem as described...is this whole attitude that "restrained" = "safe" which simply is not necessarily true. In fact there are cases where excessive rider restraint has resulted in unnecessary injury. It's also resulting in rides that may accommodate small children more easily, but cannot accommodate many adults at all. I'm tired of hearing about shared lap bars that "only secure the largest person in the seat" when in fact there is only one latching position because the bar is technically not necessary.

I wonder if I can get my hands on a copy of this draft. It would be interesting to read it and consider it in terms of how many existing rides would be rendered 'illegal' by the new standard...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 8:53 AM
Is this a national or Florida standards?
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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 9:33 AM
Neither. This is an international standard set by an independent standards-making organization based on consensus of committee members, most of whom are from within the industry.

Many jurisdictions having authority use these standards by reference. By definition, this would be an industry standard.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 10:31 AM
Dave-

Whom would you say has better ride information on safety, limits, etc., the ASTM or TUV?

Adam

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 11:43 AM

So, help me here, if ASTM approves this new set of standards, would exisitng ride equipment be required to be brought up to the new standards?

It seems that the brief article cited in this news article deals primarily with rider securement issues. (Then again that may perhaps be the issue that most concerns some of us, more than others....)

My brief understanding is that one of the new standards call for each rider to be individually secured, instead of a common practice of a shared bar for all riders in a tub or row.

I wonder if installing individual seatbelts on those rides would satisfy that standard, it seems like a relatively inexpesnive retrofit (at the cost of capacity), and there is industry precedent in going that direction.

If the new standard requires indidual, adjustable, locking safety bars (lap or shoulder) as the article seems to suggest, that could be a VERY expensive retrofit, that would cause some ride manufacturers to have to get very creative. Not to mention the effect it could have on those of us, ahem, larger riders who like sitting in the center of a seat intended for two people.

I am almost afriad to see what "individual rider securement" entails on a Teacups ride, or a Tilt-A-Whirl, both of which are popular with riders under 12, and involve riders sitting around in a circle. (or semi circle)

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David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 11:58 AM

CVD: Well if it helps to stimulate your imagination, the indoor scrambler ride @ Seabreeze "Gyroshpere" has a seat divider in it. Perhaps *that* will be incorporated in other rides ;)

lata, jeremy

--who *is* a big fan of individual restraints...then again, he is also best described as "lanky"

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"To get inside this head of mine, would take a monkey-wrench, and a lot of wine" Res How I Do

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 12:20 PM
If you pick up a copy, Dave, I may have to commission a Kinkos run. I'm curious what they are basing some of these regs on.

Hope I'm not too late...

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 2:57 PM

Don't talk too much about making copies. Remember the standard is copyrighted. If you would like to see roughly what type of stuff will be in the new standard, download a copy of the New Jersey amusement ride regualtions. The New Jersey regs were largely based on the drafts of the new standard. They are available at the New Jersey state web site.

If I understand it correctly, the new standard that F24 is developing written around new rides not existing rides and contains nothing to indicate that existing rides should be upgraded.

However, when a teenage contortionist escapes from your restraints and manages to kill himself by getting thrown off the ride, the lawyer for the relatives suing you will make a big point that you didn't upgrade your restraints to the new standard.

Also, while the standard will not be law, any jurisdiction could make it law and could also require retrofitting. I've worked on standards committees and one of the things they worry about is governments making stupid laws based on your standard. For example Pennsylvania once passed a law requiring all storage tanks to be built to the standards of the American Petroleum Institute after the failure of a big storage tank. What they missed was 1) the tank that failed had been built to API standards and 2) API's standards didn't cover many types of storage tanks.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002 5:04 PM

Jeremy, I have ridden that sorry excuse for a Scrambler at Seabreeze. Very interesting in that ther active part of the lapbar, (not the door itself) is removed in that instance.

For those who need a memory refresh, most Scramblers have the door that everybody is familar with. The door that locks with a refrigerator latch and seconded, in most cases, by the "California Latch" (A peg that secures the door). What many do not instantly remember is that mounted to the inside of that door is a lapbar that, when the door is closes sits more or less in your lap. This bar can be raised up somewhat to accomodate us larger riders. That bar seems to do more than the door does, which is not much since the forces are pushing you back in your seat and to the outer edge. (The two padded sides of the tub)

On the Seabrreeze installation, a seat divider has been installed in the center of the bench seat, but with the divider, the door couldn't close because the lapbar had issues witht he seat divider, so the lapbar was removed in favor of a big bolster mounted to the inside of the door, serving the same purpose as the lapbar.

Of course a lot of Scramblers are getting seatbelts these days, which I have on good record, the manufacturer neither encourages nor discourages, but they will sell a retrofit kit to add belts to the ride.

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David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville

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