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After the recent fatal accident at the Ohio State Fair we decided to check with the Office of Public Safety and Inspections (OPSI) within the Division of Professional Licensure for some information on amusement park safety in Massachusetts.

What level of confidence can consumers have that these rides are safe?

Following three fatal injuries in 2003-04, the then-Department of Public Safety (currently OPSI) enhanced its inspection procedures. Now over 3,000 devices are inspected each year and, since 2012, the rate of amusement ride incidents in MA is only about .0014. While no one can guarantee your safety or that accidents and tragedies will never occur, consumers can take comfort in knowing our inspection methods have been rated as some of the best in the country.

What does the inspection process entail?

First, any person who owns and operates an amusement device must apply for and receive an annual license from the OPSI.  This includes both traveling show locations as well as permanent locations.

Prior to the start of each season, all amusement devices undergo a thorough inspection by a certified third party inspector to determine any deficiencies before use. OPSI inspectors also inspect all amusement devices at permanent locations prior to the start of each season.

OPSI inspectors maintain Certified Maintenance Mechanic (CMM) protocols and are also certified by the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials.

Next, prior to daily operation, each device (permanent and traveling) is inspected by a CMM employed by the amusement device owner in accordance with the Massachusetts Amusement Device Inspection Checklist. An OPSI Building and/or Engineering inspector also inspects devices at traveling show locations prior to their day-to-day use.

What if a device fails inspection?

If a device does not pass inspection, it is taken out of operation until it is fixed (usually a replacement part is needed). Repaired devices are then re-inspected by both the CMM and an OPSI inspector before put back in use.

If an owner is not able to correct a deficiency identified by an inspector for some reason (perhaps the part is no longer available), the device may be ordered out of service by the OPSI.

Any other tips?

If you are an amusement park-goer, remember International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions reminds us of these safety tips:

  • Obey listed age, height, weight, and health restrictions.
  • Observe all posted ride safety rules and follow all verbal instructions given by ride operators or provided by recorded announcements.
  • Keep hands, arms, legs and feet inside the ride at all times.
  • Secure all loose articles, including wallets, change, sunglasses, cell phones, and hats.
  • Do not board a ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Remain seated in the ride until it comes to a complete stop and you are instructed to exit.
  • Always use safety equipment provided and never attempt to wriggle free of or loosen restraints or other safety devices.
  • Parents should make sure their children can understand and follow safe and appropriate ride behavior.
  • Never force anyone, especially children, to ride attractions they don’t want to ride.
  • If you see any unsafe behavior or conditions on a ride, report it to a supervisor or manager immediately.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

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