Hazard Case Study: High speed amusement ride with worn components allows contact between rotating components
During the assessment of a major ride before it opened for the operating season, a BCSA safety officer discovered that three of the passenger carrying units (PCU) had been contacting the sweep arm of the ride.
The ride in question was a flat rotating ride that rotates at two locations (at the ride center and at the end of the sweep arms).
One of the inspections that needs to be completed when checking for ride hazards is to ensure that the PCU have the correct clearance from their underside to the sweep arm below. To complete this test, the safety officer must rotate the ride by hand and position each PCU over the sweep arms. While conducting this part of the inspection, the safety officer discovered that three of the PCU did not have the required clearance and had in fact been contacting the sweep arm. This contact appeared to have been happening for awhile and a temporary fix had been completed at the end of the last operating season.
The safety officer immediately met with the owner of the amusement ride to show them the hazard. The owner was informed that they could not operate the ride until the cause of this problem was determined and repairs were completed. A Certificate of Inspection was issued indicating this non compliance and others that were found as part of the overall assessment.
Further investigation by the safety officer determined that the previous maintenance person/operator of the ride was no longer employed by the owner. The new operator of the ride had not set this ride up before and was not aware of the manufacturer’s tests to ensure the correct clearance between the PCU and the sweep arms. To avoid a future recurrence of this hazard, the safety officer reviewed a bulletin with the owner of the ride and the operator that demonstrated how this test needed to be completed and also provided them with a copy of the manufacturer’s bulletin relating to this test. An additional non compliance was issued to the owner of the ride to, “improve operator training and to ensure that the manufacture’s manual and bulletins were up to date.”
The owner of the ride completed repairs to the ride and it was discovered that a worn center pole bearing allowed the PCU to run out of level and make contact with the sweep arm.
After all issues were addressed, a re-inspection of the ride was completed by BCSA and it was determined the ride was operating correctly so it was allowed to open for public use.
BCSA encourages all amusement device operators to focus on prevention. Equipment and rider safety are owner/operator responsibilities.