Daily Court Reporter - News A year after fatal State Fair ride accident, legislation still under discussion
A year after fatal State Fair ride accident, legislation still under discussion
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
As Ohio fair season continues throughout the summer and early fall, lawmakers in the Ohio House of Representatives have unfinished business relating to a bill that aims to beef up amusement ride safety, in the opinion of one of their own.
House Bill 631, the subject of an initial hearing recently before members of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, is meant to revise laws governing amusement ride operation and safety after a tragic ride failure in the opening days of the 2017 Ohio State Fair that claimed the life of one rider, while seriously injuring several others.
The bill would require a "reasonable and adequate" minimum number of inspectors assigned to an amusement ride given the size, complexity and nature of the ride, in addition to calling for the state agriculture director to adopt the amusement ride inspection standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials or any other equivalent national standards.
Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, a sponsor of HB 631, said he wants to eliminate the likelihood of any future accident the likes of the Fireball amusement ride failure that killed 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell, a recent U.S. Marine Corps enlistee, and seriously injured seven others.
"There are many unanswered questions," said Patterson, "What, if anything, could have been done prior to the tragedy? What can we do now and in the future to avoid another this tragic loss of life?"
Patterson has examined other state's laws and engaged Ohio Department of Agriculture leadership in discussions of how best to achieve improved ride safety.
He also has met with Jarrell's family to discuss their loss and tighter standards for safer rides.
"Ultimately, nobody should wonder if they're signing away their life when they buy a ticket for a ride at the state fair," the lawmaker said. "We all share in the responsibility to keep people safe, whether it's the state, the ride manufacturers, or the private owner-operators - and it's clear at this point that we can do more at the state level to ensure greater public safety."
As is, safety inspections on the thousands of rides used throughout the state at local carnivals, county fairs, the state fair and amusement parks, such as Cedar Point are managed among eight state inspectors.
HB 631 would require the state ag director, when employing a new chief inspector or an additional amusement ride inspector, to give preference to individuals who are registered professional engineers, according to language of the bill.
If no registered professional engineer applies for the job, the director would be required to give preference to individuals who have been issued a Level-One or higher inspector certification from the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials.
The bill retains the current requirement that the ag director must employ and provide for training of a chief inspector and additional inspectors and employees as may be necessary to administer and enforce the laws governing amusement ride safety.
Pertaining to the maintenance, repair and inspection records of amusement rides, HB 631 would allow the director to require an amusement ride owner to take photographs prior to and after each repair and include the photographs in the maintenance, repair and inspection record that the owner is currently required to maintain.
Additionally, the director may require the owner to prepare detailed written descriptions of all repairs and include those descriptions in the record.
HB 631 would prohibit an amusement ride owner from knowingly failing to keep a record or knowingly failing to make records available to the department or to any amusement ride inspector.
It would impose a fine of $100 to $500 for a violation of the prohibition.
If passed, the law would be known as Tyler's Law and become effective immediately.
Rep. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus, is a joint sponsor of the bill, which had not been scheduled a second hearing at time of publication.
Date Published: August 24, 2018