Ohio Festival Fairground Rides Face Heightened Safety Requirements


TOWNSHIP – Summer festivals and fairs are in full swing in Ohio after a COVID-19 outage for many communities last season.

Since, the Ohio Department of Agriculture increased amusement ride safety measures, stemming from the passage of Tyler’s Law.

Documentation regarding amusement ride ownership and inspection reports for corrosion and fatigue must be kept in a database for the life of the ride, which is just one of the new requirements of Tyler’s law.

Cautious about jumping on a merry-go-round? Wondering how to determine if it has been inspected and certified?

The state’s Division of Amusement Ride Safety & Fairs says riders can look for permit decals on rides and also file applications for public registration for inspection and certification of compliance.

As an example, the Township Depot sought inspection reports and certificates of compliance for two rides at the recent Jackson Township Community Celebration.

They show that one of the rides failed two inspections before the event, prompting repairs. Inspectors then gave the go-ahead after certifying state-ordered repair work on the first day of the festival.

Riders enjoy the Shock Drop at the recent Jackson Community Festival.

What is Tyler’s Law?

Tyler’s Law is named after Tyler Jarrell, who died at the 2017 Ohio State Fair after being ejected from a merry-go-round.

The law, signed Nov. 6 and fully effective April 1, adopts new American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.

Increased safety measures focus on reviewing fatigue and corrosion while driving, out-of-state storage, operation and frequency of inspections.

Ride operators must provide documentation of the visual inspection and results to the state Department of Agriculture, retain the documentation for the life of the ride, and transfer it to any new owner.

Operators must also keep a list of all locations and dates portable rides have been stored for 30 days or operated out of state. This provides manufacturers, engineers and inspectors with information about the environmental conditions in which the amusement ride has been stored. As many rides are made of metal, proximity to salt water areas increases the risk of corrosion.

How are Ohio rides inspected?

The state inspects more than 4,000 rides throughout Ohio. This includes places like Cedar Point and portable rides seen locally at community events.

“ODA inspectors inspect all rides to make sure they comply with Ohio laws and rules. This includes making sure the ride is well maintained and meets manufacturer specifications,” said said David Miran, head of the Division of Amusement Ride Safety & Fairs.

Ohio has eight ride inspectors, four fewer than in previous years after the pandemic prompted layoffs. Miran said eight workers were enough to handle the inspection request.

Inspectors perform all initial ride inspections, additional operational and mid-season inspections. Rides are divided into three categories and are rated on everything from structural integrity, safety systems and signage to general operations.

Low-intensity rides must be inspected once a year by an inspector, and a second time a year during an additional inspection, which can take place at any time of the year.

Mid-intensity rides are inspected twice a year by two inspectors and also undergo an additional inspection.

Large rides like towers and roller coasters are subject to the same inspection requirements as intermediate rides.

“In addition, each day the ride is in operation, the ride owner is responsible for performing a pre-operational inspection of the ride themselves,” Miran added.

A Division of Amusement Ride Safety & Fairs permit decal on an amusement ride at the 2021 Jackson Township Community Celebration

Driving license and inspection documentation

Rides that pass inspections receive an annual ride permit and permit sticker.

Ride permits are maintained in a state database. Permit decals can be located on the ride itself, like vehicle registration stickers.

“Ride operators are not required to keep a copy of an on-site inspection report,” Miran said.

“That being said, due to Tyler’s Law, all operators must retain documentation of a visual inspection for the life of the ride and transfer it to all subsequent owners,” Miran added.

Bates Brothers Amusement Co. hosted rides and entertainment at the Jackson Township Community Celebration June 23-27.

Ride operators like Bates Bros Amusements, which recently operated at Jackson Township Community Celebration June 23-27not only are rides inspected annually, but also weekly by local fire departments, according to the company’s website.

“The type of rides that take place at a festival or fair determines the number of inspectors who will come to the event for inspection,” Miran told the Repository.

The Zipper, owned and operated by Bates Brothers, appeared at Jackson Township Celebration June 23-27.

Verification of the inspection process

The Depot visited the Jackson Township Community Celebration Festival and identified two rides, the Cliff Hanger and the Zipper, to review inspection and compliance certification reports.

The Zipper passed all aspects of its annual inspection on May 11 and its additional inspection on June 14.

The Cliff Hanger failed its May 11 annual inspection with four compliance issues, including retainer bars and retainer releases on multiple units.

Bates Brothers was told the ride had failed its inspection and needed to make necessary repairs with a compliance due date of May 26.

The repairs were certified before the deadline, according to ODA records.

The Cliff Hanger failed its additional inspection on June 8.

According to records obtained by the Repository, inspectors were “unable to test stop and cycle buttons at the time of inspection.”

In addition, harness cable lifting problems were reported on three of the cars. Other harness issues were noted in the report.

The compliance order issued by ODA inspectors stated that repairs to the Cliff Hanger must be certified by June 23.

Failure to certify compliance may have resulted in the revocation of the operator’s license and fines of up to $5,000, depending on the compliance order.

Records show the repairs to the Cliff Hanger were certified on deadline day, June 23, coinciding with the first day the ride was used in the Jackson Township Celebration.

Jackson Township confirmed that all rides were inspected prior to the event.

“…Park Superintendent (David Ruwadi) has found that each ride at the 2021 Jackson Township Community Celebration has the proper permit sticker as required by the Ohio Division of Safety and Fairs rides,” said Michael B. Vaccaro, administrator and law. said the Jackson Township superintendent.

Bates Bros. could not be reached for comment on ride inspections.

According to the company’s websiteBates Brothers performs safety checks of every ride, daily, using a safety inspection checklist.

The ODA Division of Amusement Rides and Fairgrounds Safety does not track incidents or injuries, but retains documentation of accidents. According to public records, there were three crashes in Ohio in 2019 and three crashes in 2020.

Concerned about driving safety?

Anyone with questions about the rides can contact the Division of Amusement Ride Safety at [email protected] or by calling 614-728-6280.

You can also file a complaint about a ride at an amusement park or fair in the State of Ohio by download and submit a complaint form to the Transportation and Fairs Security Division.

The ODA division of Amusement Ride Safety & Fairs does not track incidents or injuries, but retains documentation of accidents.

According to public records, there were three crashes in Ohio in 2019 and three crashes in 2020.

Contact Cassandra Nist at [email protected]; Twitter @Cassianist


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