January 2022 Monthly Ride Report Recap

In January 2022, media reports covered two (2) recordable ride accidents, and two (2) headlines that were outside the scope of the recording framework.

Date of last update: 15 February 2022

02 January 2022, an adult male dove into a pool at Gaspar Waterpark in Brazil, striking his head on the bottom, and required hospital care for a severe laceration. Link

04 January 2022, at Mislata Fairgrounds in Spain, an inflatable bounce was lifted by a gust of wind, injuring eight (8) children, one fatally. This is a completely foreseeable failure mode, having occurred as recently as three weeks earlier in Australia. Prevention requires only simple actions. Parents think “safety” is operators asking kids to remove their shoes. The real hazards of inflatables are fractures and concussions due to awkward falls and collisions among rambunctious kids that the attendant could prevent by monitoring and intercepting rough play. The entire device taking off in strong wind is prevented by the manufacturer analysing the wind forces and specifying where and how the device must be tied down. This is actually fairly easy for parents to verify. Every spot that needs to be tied down has a tether. There are no extra tethers that are meant to be loose. Each and every tether requires its own securement to the ground, by a heavy stake or heavy sandbag (e.g., 90 lb). No connecting two to the same stake or sandbag. The stake type and sandbag weight will be specified by the manufacturer, but it won’t be a flimsy tent pole or a sandbag the size of a beanbag or sack of sugar. Parents who want to avoid conflict with the operator, or being lied to by an unethical operator or uninformed volunteer attendant can call the regulator in the area and request an inspector to attend. The device manual should also indicate a maximum wind speed. In sustained high winds or strong gusts, tie-downs will be overcome and the device should be deflated until a calmer time. The operator should have the manual within a few steps of the device, so “I forgot it back at the shop” is no excuse. In this recent event, there were claims the devices were properly secured but the wind was gusty and thus this event could not be prevented. I would first want to know what method the operators were using to determine whether the ambient wind speeds were safe. Being excused from responsibility for a freak gust requires a diligent plan to measure steady wind speed. However, gusts are not invisible: operators can observe flags and balloons around the fairground, the clouds in the sky, chimney smoke, and leaves of visible trees. Changes in the movement of these movements can give an alert operator an indication that a wind pattern is changing and gusts may arise. The bounce can at least be evacuated quickly by a responsible attendant, so that if it is picked up in a gust, it will be unoccupied. One business model for inflatables is renting out to event organizers who will staff the devices with volunteers. Please hire trained operating attendants from the owner. At least ensure that your volunteers know they are lifeguards. They cannot chat amongst themselves and fail to monitor device safety. Like swimming pools, kids die on mismanaged inflatables. Link | Link

Reports of injury in previous periods

Events occurring in prior periods receive media coverage for various reasons, often because of litigation milestones (claims filed, decision reached), anniversaries of notable events, and references arising from recent similar events. An update was made to December 2021.

Excluded reports

Riders stuck on stopped rides are popular topics for human-interest stories. Also excluded are media reports that cover multiple cases without specifics of each case. Employee injuries are also excluded, but can attract media interest.

22 January 2022, riders on Hollywood Dream at Universal Studios Japan were evacuated with assistance after a wait of about 90 minutes, when the roller coaster stopped at an elevated location, early in the afternoon. Link

01 January 2022, a child at Sampit Waterpark in Indonesia was on the deck visiting with companions at a cabana, when the child leaned on a support rope and sustained a fatal electric shock. While it did not occur in a waterpark device such as a slide or wave pool, it reinforces the hazardous link between water and electricity that is pertinent to all waterpark attractions as well as attractions with incidental water for thematic reasons. Link | Link | Link

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About Kathryn Woodcock

Dr. Kathryn Woodcock is Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, teaching, researching, and consulting in the area of human factors engineering / ergonomics particularly applied to amusement rides and attractions (https://thrilllab.blog.ryerson.ca), and to broader occupational and public safety issues of performance, error, investigation and inspection, and to disability and accessibility.