Amusement Ride Safety & Inspections

Parents' Amusement Rides Safety Checklist

The public expects L&I, amusement-ride operators, insurance companies and private-industry safety inspectors to ensure that amusement rides are safe.

But be aware — being inspected does not guarantee that the ride is being operated safely, or in the case of inflatable rides, that the ride has been installed correctly on the site.

Use this common-sense checklist to ensure your children's safety

For all rides
  • Check for a current state decal on the ride, meaning it's been inspected and approved.
  • Observe how the ride is operated:
    • Is the operator taking care to ensure that passengers are appropriately protected?
    • Is the operator paying close attention when the ride is in motion?
    • Is the operator observing restrictions about rider size?
For inflatable rides
  • Is the operator strictly limiting the number of people on the ride at one time?
  • Does the inflatable ride appear to be overloaded or unstable?
  • Does the ride appear to be securely anchored?
  • Could the blower inflating the ride accidentally be unplugged, collapsing and possibly injuring the riders?

Common questions about amusement ride safety

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  • Expand/collapse Are all amusement rides operating in Washington inspected?

    Yes. By law, all amusement rides must be inspected at least once a year for mechanical and electrical safety. In addition, electrical inspections are required each time an amusement ride is set up. These requirements cover both permanent rides such as the wooden roller coaster at the Western Washington State Fair, portable rides set up temporarily at seasonal fairs and carnivals, and inflatable amusement structures in both public and private settings.

  • Expand/collapse Who does these inspections?

    Annual safety inspections are done by private amusement-ride inspectors hired by the ride operator or their insurance company. L&I certifies these inspectors after passing a competency exam or a test administered by the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials. Click here for a list of qualified amusement ride safety inspectors.

    Onsite electrical inspections are done by certified L&I inspectors. These inspections must meet the criteria of the National Electrical Code. Some cities are approved to perform their own electrical inspections.

  • Expand/collapse How does the public know a ride is approved by L&I?

    Look for a decal that is posted within sight of the ride operator's station. L&I issues an operating decal for the ride after receiving the final approved inspection report from an amusement-ride inspector and notice of current liability insurance coverage ($1 million).

  • Expand/collapse Do inspections guarantee amusement rides will be accident free?

    While annual inspections are a safeguard, normal operating wear and tear or other unforeseen circumstances still may result in an accident. The amusement-ride industry and its insurers have a big stake in making sure these rides are safe, and it is ultimately their responsibility to maintain safe rides during the year. If safety became a widespread concern among customers and, as a result, ridership declined, they could go out of business. It's in the industry's own self-interest to keep its rides as safe as possible.

  • Expand/collapse How can you know that a ride is safe?

    There is no fail-safe way to know for certain that a ride is safe. Follow the safety check steps on this page to decide whether you feel comfortable using, or allowing your children to use an amusement ride.

  • Expand/collapse What happens when an accident does occur?

    L&I usually will suspend the ride's operating permit while inspectors look for the cause of the problem. Depending on the severity of an accident, private-industry inspectors and L&I inspectors both likely will go to the scene. Once the problem has been fixed, new mechanical and electrical inspections may be required before the ride begins operating again.

  • Expand/collapse Are ride operators required to report all accidents?

    Yes. Ride operators must report to L&I within 24 hours:

    Any incident or accident where evacuation of a ride results from an electrical or mechanical malfunction or when emergency personnel are needed to assist in the evacuation.
    Any incident or accident involving personal injury that requires medical treatment, other than ordinary first aid.

For more information:

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