Amusement Ride Safety & Inspections

Amusement Ride Safety & Inspections

The amusement ride industry and its insurers have a big stake in making sure their rides are safe. Typically, a mechanical ride that requires you to pay admission is an amusement ride. Ride operators are required to:

  • Have their rides inspected annually by third-party safety inspectors.
  • Use safety inspectors that have L&I certification.
  • Post L&I ride operating permits near the ride operator station.

Amusement rides include roller coasters, Ferris wheels, zip-lines, carousels, etc. They also include bounce houses, bungee jumps, and mechanical bulls, for example.  See WAC 296-403A-100 for additional details.

There is no fail-safe way to know for certain if a ride is safe. However, there are things you can do to check if a ride is being operated safely. If anything is causing you concern, do not get on the ride.

For all rides

  • Look for the L&I issued sticker near the operator station to see if it passed a safety inspection within the last year.
  • Observe how the ride is being operated:
    • Is the operator ensuring that passenger safety restraints are properly used?
    • Is the operator paying attention when the ride is in motion?
    • Is the operator enforcing restrictions about rider size?
  • Ask yourself whether you feel comfortable having you or your child ride the ride.

For inflatable rides

  • Is the operator properly restricting the number of people on the ride at one time?
  • Does it appear to be overloaded or unstable?
  • Is it securely anchored?
  • Could the blower inflating the ride accidentally be unplugged, causing the ride to collapse and possibly injure riders?


Common questions about amusement ride safety

Q. Do inspections guarantee amusement rides will be accident free?
While annual inspections are a safeguard, normal operating wear and tear or other unforeseen circumstances can result in an accident. The amusement ride industry and its insurers are ultimately responsible for maintaining safe rides throughout the year. It is in the industry's self-interest to keep its rides and riders safe.

Q. How does the public know a ride has been inspected?
Look for a valid L&I Amusement Ride Safety Inspection operating permit decal posted within sight of the ride operator's station. To get a permit, operators must provide a satisfactory report from a certified amusement ride inspector and proof of current liability insurance coverage for no less than one million dollars.

Q. What happens when an accident occurs?
When an accident or incident occurs, it must be reported to L&I within 24 hours if:

  • A ride is evacuated because of an electrical or mechanical malfunction or when emergency personnel are needed to assist in the evacuation of a ride.
  • Injuries have occurred that require medical treatment, other than ordinary first aid.

Depending on cause and severity of the accident or incident, ride operating permits can be revoked by L&I. The ride must then pass a new safety inspection and be issued a new permit before it can be operated again.

L&I does not have the authority to investigate or determine the cause of amusement ride accidents or incidents involving the public.  Typically, first responders, ride operators, and their insurers conduct investigations as needed.

Q. Who inspects amusement rides operating in Washington?
Amusement rides operated in Washington are inspected by a third-party who is certified by L&I. Ride operators hire certified inspectors to inspect their rides.  Inspectors must pass a competency exam administered by the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials before L&I will certify them. Click here for a list of qualified amusement ride safety inspectors.

For more information:

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