Part 2 of the post mainly focuses on rides that are intended for adults only. I’ve also learnt that there is a difference between Amusement Park and Fair Rides, the former being a more permanent fixture compared to the nomadic nature of the latter. As I would have mentioned before, Trinbago Coney Island appears to be more of a Fair than an Amusement Park. From my last post until now I havn’t learnt anything new by way of a local inspection body that caters to Fair grounds, therefore all my research is non-native. Numerous persons experience the thrill of these amusement rides without accident or injury, but ensuring you leave with only an adrenaline rush…is the purpose of this post.
Part 2 covers the higher intensity Vulcano, Tahtoo, Dancing Fly and Blue Shake rides. I also discuss Annual Inspections, Lifespan of a Ride, Foreseeable Misuse, Insurance and First Aid.
In some state fairs it’s known as the Fire Ball where the ride swings like a pendulum simultaneously rotating its riders. Just last year the Washington Post reported a mechanical failure whereby 2 rows of seats struck a metal structural support beam launching 2 people into the air killing one in a Fire Ball ride. The article further details that this ride was inspected before the fair was opened.
This type of ride is also known as a zero gravity ride. It also carries names such as Round Up, Meteorite or Super Spiral. It consists of a circular horizontal platform with a vertical cage-like wall around the edge. The platform is attached to a motor on a hydraulic arm. The ride starts out by spinning until the centrifugal force is enough to push riders against the wall. Then the arm raises, allowing the horizontal platform to spin riders in a vertical position.
Also known as the Hully Gully-Ballerina ride, seats about for 40 passengers and involves the spinning movement of the cars rotating on an eccentric axis up to 44 degrees. I havn’t been able to get details on the speeds of these rides, but I’m very curious to find out.
This is another pendulum type ride which rotates its riders around a bar. For added ‘fun’ the row of seats isn’t fixed and rotates independently while swinging. In a similar version of the ride, known as the Space Adventure, a 14 year old girl died after being flung from the ride in China. It appears that she slipped from her seat while the ride was in motion.
Annual Inspection of Rides
The Building and Construction Authority in Singapore has published comprehensive guidance for the annual inspection of amusement rides in their jurisdiction.
I’ve summerised their content as follows:
- Preparation for Inspection-dismantling, identification of critical welds, stripping of paints/coverings, provision of access and other equipment, servicing or replacement of parts.
- Physical Inspection and Testing-foundation & structural elements, wire ropes, chains and accessories, pressure vessels and accessories, welds and joints, patron restraints, patron containment and clearance envelope, electrical components, electrical cables and connections, earthing and bonding, emergency lighting, control system, mechanical components, hydraulic & pneumatic systems, mechanical transmission systems, drives, brakes, damping and absorbers, safety equipment, fencing, platforms & walkways, signage.
- Function Tests-correct working of controls, operating speeds and range, safety devices, restraints and restraint systems, efficiency of braking system, acceleration and deceleration under normal working conditions and in emergency.
- Documentation-annual inspection report, report on serious safety-related defects, remedial actions, certification
Inspections of this type should be done by trained and certified personnel, insurance companies may also send their inspectors to protect their end. Rides may also require Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) to check for subsurface issues that may be overlooked by a visual inspection.
It goes without saying that the park should be closed for some time for any of the above to be carried out. Seeing that Trinbago Coney Island has been nomadic, it is advisable that some if not all checks be done when setting up shop at a new location before opening. Inspections are not a one-off occurrence, the park should have established daily, weekly and monthly checks to ensure the operational safety of these rides. Of course this information is not privy to the public, but sharing it aims at educating the public on what should be done to ensure safety.
Lifespan of an Amusement Park Ride
An industry consultant based in California is of the opinion that there’s no life expectancy to a fair ride if you are carrying out the maintenance requirements as stipulated by the manufacturer. I don’t quite agree with this as there are a number of variables that exist with the same ride at differing locations. Maintainance requirements are standardised and may not account for added checks that need to be carried out if the rides are located in harsh environments eg. exposure to sea spray, high humidity/rainfall or extremes of temperature. In such instances it may be left up to the discretion of the park owner to dictate any added maintenance checks in light of the site and situation of his operations.
Further to this, I think the lifespan of a ride can be dictated by 2 criteria:
Wear and Tear-One would hope that the maximum capacity and duration of a ride would not be exceeded by the manufacturer’s guidance. However, if it is that the ride does not meet, far less exceed, the operational maximums-this can be taken into consideration when considering its lifespan with respect to wear and tear. This information however, should also be taken in light of its environmental and respective maintenance conditions in order to make such a determination.
Ride Design-Not every aspect of design flaws ‘rears its ugly head’ in the testing phases of a ride and as such these oversights trickle down when the ride is opened to the public. The safety barriers in a roller coaster were found to be inadequately designed for an amputee, after a US Army vet was thrown from that ride in 2011. Additionally, following the decapitation of a 10 year old boy, it was revealed that there were major design flaws at a Kansas waterslide in an attempt to expedite its construction to impress producers of the show “Xtreme Waterparks”. I don’t think this criteria applies to the rides at Trinbago Coney Island since all the ride designs are standard and have been in use for a number for years around the world.
Perhaps where the 2 criteria overlap may be a consideration of how the ride design has changed over time if/when major restorative works need to be carried out. It is the duty of management to determine if these repairs impose any added risk to to patrons.
Granted that all the equipment has passed its inspections, the human factor also contributes to why things may sometimes go amiss at parks of this type. HSG175 suggests that foreseeable misuse is not the intention of the designer, but rather results from predictable human behaviour. It may be irrational, induced by fear and is unlikely to include patrons who exhibit reckless behaviour. Some examples of how this behaviour could arise are: use of cameras/phones on roller coasters, failing to observe safety instructions or passengers disembarking a ride before it completely comes to a stop.
This pretty much describes your typical Trinidadian…we may hear the safety information given prior to entering the ride, but do we really listen?…..seldom…
One example I can relate to is getting friction burns on coming down a water slide. I always intend to follow instructions by keeping my arms and legs close to my body while coming down the slides, but my natural response to trying to control my speed renders the oppose response. But let me also add that I believe that the designer has a role to play in considering the spectrum of unintentional and irrational behaviours that may arise when the ride is in use and put measures in place to limit damage to patrons.
I digress to add that while experiencing the thrill of a ride, I think some patrons may not be able to differentiate their thrill from danger arising from faulty equipment. This is not a case of foreseeable misuse, but all the same in attempting to cater to the risk that arises from patrons’ response on fair rides. The thrill experienced from a dangerous conditions may therefore go undetected to the park’s staff and perhaps exacerbate itself in an accident later on.
Here’s a creative way one US operator tackles Foreseeable Misuse 🙂
I don’t know if it is safe to assume that Trinbago Coney Island has Public Liability Insurance unless a major accident occurs. I’m also not sure if it is a local legal requirement for the operation of events of this nature. By way of general knowledge, Maritime General Insurance sheds some light on the requirements for Public Liability Insurance locally.
Key information required is:
- If machinery other than lifts, cranes or hoists are to be included
- If vehicles or vessels are to be insured, whereby a separate insurance is necessary for mechanically propelled vehicles
- If the premises, machinery, appliances and plant are sound and in good repair
Coverage is given for:
- Bodily injury to or illness of any person
- Loss of or damage to property
- Liability arising from fire and explosion
- Liability arising from food or beverage served for consumption
I guess you can also allude that Foreseeable Misuse may not be covered by Public Liability Insurance.
At the time of my visit I didn’t notice any First Aid area, and I don’t know if the park attendants were First Aid trained. There are roughly 20 minor injuries to 1 major injury at amusement parks in Ontario, and seeing that minor injuries are more prevalent than major injuries, it should be the duty of Coney Island’s management to ensure there is a First Aid station in place.
That said, I think that sufficient means of reporting should accompany treatment. Minor incidents/injuries (in some cases) are essentially near misses and can be a good indicator that a major incident/injury may be on the horizon. A First Aid station can therefore be a useful tool in tracking trends in which rides may have hazards that were undetected in the inspection process, or failure of staff to adequately brief patrons. It has the potential to identify risks posed by factors other than the rides themselves, and hopefully prevent some accidents from occurring.
In my previous post on the Harry’s Water Park Accident, we see first hand how a lack of medical arrangements can potentially exacerbate a situation. Additionally, how public opinions shared on social media can damage a company’s reputation. Having a First Aid station definitely shows the company is caring and responsible and increases the likelihood of a positive review on social media.
I hope I’ve given you something to think about, and I hope this encourages similar local establishments to raise their safety standards!