As we approach the summer months and children are out of school, it’s appropriate that safety at amusement parks be a topic of discussion. We have written on several occasions about the number of deaths and serious injuries that have occurred at a number of the parks around the country. It has been reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that as many as 7,000 people are treated in emergency rooms each year as a result of amusement park rides. The industry has done a good job of keeping safety regulation to a bare minimum to the detriment of persons going to these parks. The CPSC has limited ability under existing law to regulate this industry and that is due to the effective lobbying efforts by the industry. For example, in 1981 an exemption for fixed-site theme parks like Six Flags was granted to that part of the industry. That left only mobile operations under the purview of the commission.
According to Kathy Fackler, founder of Safer Parks, California-based nonprofit consumer advocacy group, the CPSC has not been proactive on amusement ride safety. Instead, it restricts its efforts to post-incident investigations. In addition, neither the Commission nor any other federal agency requires reporting of amusement ride injuries. State requirements relating to reporting vary widely. Critics contend that, as a result, the true injury toll is vastly underreported. The CPSC used to compile estimates on amusement ride injuries, utilizing data gathered from emergency rooms around the country. Over an eight-year period – 1997 to 2004 – the Commission estimated that 60,000 emergency-room injuries were related to amusement rides. Then, in 2005, for some reason the CPSC stopped compiling estimates. According to Ms. Fackler, this was the result of industry pressure.
U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), has introduced a bill, the National Amusement Ride Safety Act, which would repeal the exemption for fixed sites and enable the CPSC to collect injury data. Hopefully, his bill will make it through the legislative process and become law.
Source: Associated Press
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