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Ride Corrosion Inspections Called for After Ohio Incident

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

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A metal inspector in Knoxville, Tennessee, is looking to change that state’s practices in relation to amusement park ride inspections, as ride manufacturers urge corrosion inspections in the wake of last year's tragedy at the Ohio State Fair.

WBIR-TV reported Friday (March 2) that inspector John Gillespie got in touch after the station ran a story on the inspection process for amusement park and carnival rides; Gillespie noted that Tennessee, like Ohio, does not require inspection for corrosion as part of its safety checks.

Fire Ball
NAFLIC Bulletin

Last August, 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell was killed when the “Fire Ball” ride broke at the Ohio State Fair.

At the same time, more amusement ride manufacturers are issuing bulletins calling for corrosion inspection on their rides as part of regular maintenance.

Ohio Incident

Last August, 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell was killed when the “Fire Ball” ride broke at the Ohio State Fair. Seven others were injured. Preliminary reports indicated that the metal arm holding the gondola that broke may have been corroded and cracked, leading to the incident.

Shortly after the incident, the National Association for Leisure Industry Certification, based in the U.K., issued a technical bulletin calling for inspections of rides of the same model, based on an understanding that “an ingress of water occurs during the transport and storage that leads to … corrosion.” Manufacturer KMG International BV said the cause of the incident appeared to be years of corrosion reducing the thickness of the wall of the gondola arm.

In September, the Ohio State Highway Patrol released photos from their investigation that indicated there may have been visible cracking on the gondola arm prior to the incident. Some photos seem to show areas of corrosion that were painted over; one photo showed a bucket of orange paint on the ground near the ride at the time of the incident. The Franklin County Prosecutor’s office declined to file charges, however.

Ohio Lawsuit Update

Attorneys representing victims in the Fire Ball incident are suing the operator of the ride, Amusements of America, but last month announced a settlement that clears state officials and inspectors from any litigation. Attorney Mark Kitrick told the Columbus Dispatch that state law shields the state from liability, but he believes state inspectors “failed to adequately do their jobs,” and that the ride was “a visible bucket of rust.”

Gondola arm with possible cracking
Ohio State Highway Patrol

In September, the Ohio State Highway Patrol released photos from their investigation that indicated there may have been visible cracking on the gondola arm prior to the incident.

A third-party inspector who looked at the Fire Ball ride prior to the incident said that he did not notice any cracking or other visible physical issues. Corrosion is not a specific target of inspection on amusement rides in Ohio.

The Tennessee State Labor and Workforce Development office told WBIR that while corrosion inspections were not required by state law, operators could go beyond state-mandated minimum inspections to look for other potential issues.

New Corrosion Bulletins

In the months since the Ohio incident, a number of ride manufacturers have issued similar bulletins calling for corrosion inspections of rides currently in operation. 

In December, Kansas-based Chance Rides issued a bulletin detaling inspections for corrosion that operators must perform on rides more than five years old; the inspections should be repeated after the ride passes 10 years of age, then again annually thereafter, the manufacturer says.

Other manufacturers that have followed suit include A.R.M. USA, of Wintersville, OhioBattech Enterprises, an Oregon-based manufacturer; and Texas-based Larson International. All of the manufacturers' bulletins call for corrosion inspections within 90 days of issuance. 


Tagged categories: Corrosion; Inspection

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