Penn Live recently released findings from 2018 data concerning which carnival and amusement rides resulted in the highest rate of injuries in the state of Pennsylvania. Trampolines and water slides topped the list, with 68 and 57 injuries respectively. Twenty-five injuries were recorded on roller coasters in the Keystone state, including a sprained ankle and whiplash. Nine injuries were recorded on go-kart tracks, with the most common being cart collision. Merry-go-rounds were only the site of two injuries, both involving individuals who had trouble getting on and off the ride.
The rate of injuries on water slides in 2018 may not be surprising with the headlines made by the Breakers Edge water coaster at Hershey Park last summer. The ride became operational at the central PA attraction on May 26, 2018, and by June 26, three riders had fallen off rafts while on the attraction. The park attempted to blame these incidents on the riders, claiming that they failed to keep proper hold of raft handles throughout the duration of the ride.
Amusement parks in Pennsylvania are subject to regulation by the PA Department of Agriculture. The state registers more than 800 amusement ride owners and 10,000 amusement rides and attractions each year. The Department maintains the Amusement Ride Safety Advisory Board, a panel comprised of industry experts, citizens, and one certified engineer. The board meets quarterly to reviews all new rides and attractions applying to operate. Upon review, members make recommendations to the Dept. of Agriculture regarding the sustainability of the ride.
Once a ride or attraction is approved to operate, the owner and rides are required to register. Owners must submit itineraries detailing scheduled events where amusement rides will be (usually within 15 days of the event). Owners are also required to submit inspection affidavits (attesting a passing inspection was performed) for each ride prior to its operation and again every 30 days or each time it is set up at a new location (whichever is sooner).
Not all injuries at amusement parks are as minor as the ones recorded here in 2018. Earlier this summer, an amusement park ride–which just so happened to be another water ride–The Log malfunctioned, flipping over, and throwing all riders (all members of the same family) from their seats. The 10-year-old son sustained cuts to his ear and other head injuries, his father sustained scrapes to the arm and back, while his mother was critically injured. Fire department officials which responded to the incident stated that a mechanical problem with a ride’s water pump apparently caused the accident, while an investigation is underway by the California Department of Health and Safety to determine the exact cause.
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