WorkCover Queensland recently issued a safety alert on the uncontrolled starting of amusement devices following an incident which involved a Wave swinger amusement ride with a design feature common to many older amusement devices.
In the incident, a Wave swinger amusement ride unexpectedly started to rotate at high speed while patrons were getting off the ride.
Fortunately, the operator activated the emergency stop and managed to stop the ride with the help of the foot brake.
Although patrons received only minor injuries, WorkCover Queensland said the incident could have potentially been far worse.
The Wave swinger ride involved in the incident was manufactured in 1977, and during an investigation, the ride’s electric over hydraulic control system was tested but the fault could not be identified.
However, it has been confirmed that the ride did not have safeguards in the control system (which are normally installed in modern machinery) to prevent uncontrolled re-starts.
To prevent similar incidents on amusement devices manufactured before 2008, a risk assessment should be conducted to determine operation areas which, if not protected by safety features, can result in serious injuries.
These include unexpected starting of the amusement device, the emergency stop, locking of entries to hazard zones of the device while it is in operation and rider restraint interlocks.
Areas with high risks should be upgraded to the level of machinery safe-guarding required by technical standards such as Australian Standard AS 4024 Safety of machinery and International Standards Organisation ISO 13849 Safety of machinery – Safety related parts of control systems (or equivalent).
Owners of amusement devices must have an engineering assessment conducted on the control system of their amusement devices to determine whether an upgrade is required.
This assessment should be conducted within 12 months of this safety alert being issued, either separately or as part of the annual inspection.
The engineer should also recommend the timeframe for any required upgrade to be implemented.