According to a recent study focusing on twenty years (1990-2010) of emergency room reports, more than 4,400 children are treated each year for injuries involving amusement rides. The study, published in the May 2013 issue of Clinical Pediatrics, found that the head and neck region were the most frequently injured areas, followed by the arms, face and legs. Soft tissue injuries and strains and sprains were the most prevalent, but broken bones were also common. The most frequent causes of injury were falls (especially off or against the ride while entering or exiting) and being struck by the ride.
Fixed and mobile rides including roller coasters, bumper cars, merry-go-rounds, log flumes, alpine slides, mechanical bulls, mini-train rides and coin-operated rides were included in the study. Excluded rides included inflatable rides, slides, go-carts, bungee-related rides, climbing walls, ball pits, dunking booths, and water slides, as well as attractions, games and toys.
Key findings from this study include:
- Fixed rides accounted for 34% of the injuries. Mobile rides accounted for 29% and coin-operated rides were involved in 12% of the injuries.
- With a majority of the injuries resulting from falling in, on, off, or against a ride, there may be opportunities to improve rider safety by:
- Enhancing ride restraints, access, loading and unloading
- Improving restraints, secondary restraints and restraint inspections
- Strengthening operator training and enforcement of safe rider conduct
- Training operators to be held accountable for diligently observing rider conduct from loading to unloading
- Ride malfunction was cited as a contributing factor in just 3.5% of injuries, illustrating that ride design, management, and operation may be the greatest opportunities to improve rider safety.
The ASTM International Committee on Amusement Rides and Devices, F24, has published 16 voluntary standards addressing safe ride design, maintenance, and operation. Ride owners and operators should assure that they meet these requirements. For details on a few safety practices that ride owners should follow, download the full article here.
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