I-TEAM: Ohio officials changing how they inspect amusement rides in wake of deadly accident

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The I-TEAM has found state inspectors are doing something they’ve never done before when it comes to making sure rides are safe at carnivals and parks.

The new efforts to spot hazards on amusement rides comes in the wake of a deadly accident at the state fair back in 2017. A ride broke apart leaving one person dead and seven hurt.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture oversees state inspections of amusement rides.

“We all are painfully aware of the tragedy that occurred two years ago at the Ohio State Fair. There is no price that we can attach to public safety,” said the agency’s director, Dorothy Pelanda.

For the first time, inspectors will carry laptop computers as they go around to parks and fairs. This will allow them to file reports electronically right away. It may surprise you, but until now, state inspectors relied on a system in the field with paper records. They filled out forms with hand-written notes outlining problems with rides.

Inspectors will also ask a series of questions about each ride aimed at helping them identify any possible problems. The questions revolve around any changes made to the ride, mechanical issues raised by the manufacturer and more.

As previously reported, Ohio only has eight ride inspectors for about 4,000 rides. Every ride needs an inspection before the first time it gets used for the season. But, every ride does not get checked out by the state before every event.

The Department of Agriculture is hoping state lawmakers provide money for more inspectors.

Separately, state lawmakers are considering a proposal to beef up ride inspections in other ways too.

“I consider anyone who rides one of these rides my precious cargo, and I just want to make sure that rides are safe from the get go,” said Pelanda.

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