As the summer of 2016 winds down, it’s a good time to consider amusement park safety. The amusement park industry is a $12 billion a year industry. Consider the many news stories involving incidents of severe injury, even death, in parks across the country this summer — including several incidents in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
You might be surprised to learn that there is no federal agency charged with inspecting amusement parks for safety. Why not?
In 1981, the lobbyists for the amusement park industry inserted an amendment into legislation striking federal jurisdiction and safety inspections of amusement parks. Since then, the results have been disastrous.
The notion that states have the resources to conduct these inspections belies the facts. An analysis demonstrates that the Verrückt — the World’s Tallest Waterslide — which failed catastrophically killing a child in Kansas, was never inspected by the state of Kansas. But it had passed an insurance company inspection.
Fortunately, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts continues to champion the consumer safety aspect and close the 1981 loophole. But it is an uphill battle.
It is also a battle we cannot afford to lose. The safety of children and consumers riding at amusement parks is simply too important.
By the way — “Verrückt” is the German word for insane.