When seven were injured and one killed on a state fair ride in Ohio, officials with the Bangor State Fair initiated additional safety checks on a ride similar to the one that malfunctioned, to ensure there were no future tragedies. In fact, the Freak Out ride in Bangor is manufactured by the same company that made the ride in Ohio. A specialist is slated to check the ride before the fair opens, the operator told The Bangor Daily News, and the Bangor fire marshal’s office inspectors were dispatched to check all mechanical rides.
Fair injuries are not unique to Ohio. Right here in Maine, four children were injured in two separate incidents two years ago at the Waterville State Fair. In one incident, the Dragon Wagon ride resulted in three child injuries. The very next day at the same fair, a rider in a mechanical swing wasn’t properly secured in the ride, and fell out of the chair during the ride. Two people were later charged criminally in those incidents.
Deaths on carnival rides are relatively rare, but the problem, as noted by experts quoted in USA Today, is there are not enough safety regulations and too few inspectors. From now through mid-September is considered peak fair season, with state fairs popular in Maine and many other states. But the inspections may not be adequate to catch all the potential problems. For example, Ohio reportedly has eight inspectors in charge of permitting some 3,700 rides annually. The question then becomes how many hours of inspection does each ride get? One expert opined a thorough ride inspection takes between one and three days because the inspector must examine x-rays of the joints and welds. Continue reading