Ohio considering more regulations on amusement rides

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Ohio lawmakers will consider whether to increase oversight of carnival rides, including hiring more inspectors, following a deadly accident at the Ohio State Fair that flung riders onto the midway.

Read more from AP via Insurance Journal.

The only thing that would have prevented the Ohio State Fair accident would have been doing ultrasonic scans on all rides that have structural areas that can not be inspected visually when they are set up. The component that failed could have been inspected prior to it being assembled, but whether or not the level of corrosion could be determined visually is questionable.

The Fireball passed inspection in New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ohio before the fair opened. At the fair, it passed inspection by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, by the third party inspection team hired by the Fair, and by Amusements of America's own team.

That's six different inspection bodies that did not catch the crack.

My personal opinion is that there was no crack visible at the time of inspection. That a serious crack that had been propagating very slowly through the tube, starting on the inside at the corroded weld point, and on the first day of the fair that crack erupted to the surface. Reaching the surface the propagation rate for the crack accelerated. It took months for the crack to reach the surface, but once any of the crack reached the surface, it broke apart in hours, if not minutes.

They didn't find the crack because to the naked eye, it wasn't there. They didn't search for it because that wasn't a place where a crack was expected to form. That particular ride was almost 20 years old, and it had never cracked. It was one of 39 rides that had never shown signs of cracking in a gondola support arm. Nobody was looking for trouble at that point because until the failure at the Ohio State Fair, nobody knew to look for it.

The new law would have done nothing to prevent the incident. But from what I have seen so far, it looks like the measure isn't too far out of line, and it does address the bigger question by which lawmakers are enjoined after a tragedy to "do something" about it. Had the proposed law been on the books before the incident, I don't think it would have helped. From what has been reported so far, though, I don't think the proposed law will hurt, either.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

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