Amusement ride close call shows importance of operator checks
The incident report we received
A small child on a ride sitting in between two teenagers somehow ended up in a fetal position on the foot tub of the passenger carrying unit (PCU), under the seat belt and restraining bar. When the ride operator noticed the problem, the ride was stopped and the passengers unloaded.
The type of ride
This incident occurred on a major flat spinning ride containing two different rotations. The center rotates clockwise, the passenger carriers rotate counter clockwise.
This ride holds up to three passengers per PCU, and due to the different rotation directions and speeds, the heaviest person must be seated on the outer edge of the seat. The reason being is that the centrifugal force pushes riders to the outside of the seat. This means if smaller riders are positioned on the outer edge with a heavier person next to them, the heavier rider will press into them causing discomfort or even injury.
The PCU for this ride has two types of restraining devices:
- a common seat belt and restraining bar for the riders; and
- a foot tub to keep the riders’ lower extremities inside the PCU.
The seat backs also bear the warning decal below, ensuring riders see it when entering the PCU.
How the incident happened
When the ride started it is possible that the centrifugal forces shifted the larger person on the left into the small child forcing the child to slip under the seat belt and restraining bar.
This incident highlights the importance of operator checks. Passengers must be loaded correctly ensuring that warning and instruction signs are followed.
In this case we were not able to determine if:
- the passengers were in the correct seating position when the operator completed their checks, then switched seats; or
- the operator did not notice the riders were seated incorrectly when doing their checks.
For more information on amusement devices incidents, injuries, permits, and inspections, view our State of Safety.