The amusement ride industry and its insurers have a big stake in making sure their rides are safe. To ensure that amusement rides in Washington are safe, ride operators are required to have their rides inspected annually by third-party safety inspectors. L&I certifies third-party inspectors, and issues ride operation permits when rides have passed inspection. Typically, a mechanical ride that you are required to pay admission for is considered an amusement ride.
There is no fail-safe way to know if a ride is safe. You ride at your own risk. However, there are things you can do to check if a ride is safe. If anything is causing you concern, do not get on the ride.
For all rides
- Look for the L&I-issued sticker near the ride operator station to see if the ride has passed a safety inspection within the last year.
- Observe how the ride is being operated:
- Is the operator ensuring that passenger safety restraints, if available, 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?
How to get an amusement ride operating permit
- Request a safety inspection on your equipment by contacting a state-certified amusement ride safety inspector or a qualified inspector authorized through your insurance company.
- Get a certificate of insurance in the amount of no less than $1,000,000 per occurrence, listing the Department of Labor & Industries as the certification holder.
- Apply to L&I for an operating permit by filling out the Application for Amusement Ride or Air-Supported Structure Operating Permit (F500-010-000). Allow 3 days for a response.
- Send the completed inspection forms, the certificate of insurance and the ride decal fee of $10 per inflatable/amusement ride to: Department of Labor & Industries Electrical Program, P.O. Box 44460, Olympia, WA 98504-4460.
- You will then be issued an operating permit decal which will be valid for 1 year. This decal must be displayed on your equipment, in clear view of the public, within sight of the operator's station.
Getting your temporary power distribution system inspected
Each time you set up your temporary power distribution system, it must inspected by L&I electrical inspectors or a city electrical inspector when in their jurisdiction.
Renewing an amusement ride operating permit/decal
- When the decal on your equipment is within 30 days of expiring, you must contact your safety inspector for another safety inspection.
- Once the inspection is completed, you must send the completed inspection forms, along with the fee of $10 per inflatable/amusement ride, to Department of Labor & Industries Electrical Program, P.O. Box 44460, Olympia, WA 98504-4460.
- You will then be issued a decal to replace the old one. It will be valid for another year. If the inspection is done within 30 days of the old decal's expiration date, you will retain the same annual expiration date.
- You must keep valid insurance on file with us while you operate your rides.
Requirements for becoming an amusement ride inspector
Before applying to get certified as an amusement ride inspector, you must meet the minimum qualifications:
- 2 years experience with an insurance company as an amusement ride inspector; or
- 2 years experience inspecting amusement rides and enforcing amusement ride codes while employed by a state of other governmental body regulating amusement rides; or
- No less than 5 years documented field operating and maintenance experience with amusement rides and devices, including responsibility for erection, assembly, and disassembly.
- Personnel supervision responsibility for erection, maintenance, and operating functions; or
- No less than 10 years documented practical experience in design, construction, maintenance, repair, field inspection, and operation of amusement rides and devices as an authorized representative of a recognized amusement ride manufacturer.
In addition to the above criteria, an amusement ride inspector must demonstrate competency. This includes passing an amusement ride inspector competency examination administered by the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials for NAARSP Level II or other certification organizations recognized by L&I.
An amusement ride inspector may work without certification as a trainee, if directly and continually supervised during the inspection process by a certified amusement ride inspector.
How to become an amusement ride inspector
- Complete the application form Application for Amusement Ride Inspector Certification (F500-065-000).
- Send it to Department of Labor & Industries Electrical Program, P.O. Box 44460, Olympia, WA 98504-4460, along with the following:
- The $20 application fee.
- Documentation of having met the above requirements listed in Chapter 296-403A-170 WAC.
- L&I will send you a certificate that is valid for 1 year and allows you to perform safety inspections for amusement ride operators.
How to renew your certification
Once you receive your renewal notice, you must:
- Attend at least 1 amusement ride safety and maintenance seminar sponsored by AIMS, IAAPA, NW Showman's Club, NAARSO or equivalent approved by the department. Verification of attending this program must be submitted with the renewal form.
- Send the following to the Department Labor & Industries Electrical Program, PO Box 44460, Olympia, WA 98504-4460 by your expiration date:
- The completed renewal form.
- The seminar attendance verification.
- The $20 fee.
Common questions about amusement ride safety
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.
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. It is in the industry's own self-interest to keep its rides safe.