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Fried unveils legislative framework on amusement park ride safety in the state

Nikki-Fried
Posted at 12:25 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 12:25:17-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried unveiled draft legislation to address the problems her office found after a teenager died from falling from a ride in Orlando earlier this year.

Tyre Sampson, 14, died on a free fall ride at Icon Park in Orlando in March when he fell out of the seat. Since the Missouri teen's death, the state has conducted a study on the incident and found changes made on the ride allowed the harness restraint opening to be almost double that of the normal range.

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Wednesday, Fried unveiled legislation her office believes addresses the problems in the ride industry. Fried's legislation included seven areas of focus including:

  • Signage: Increase signage posting requirements from signage required by the manufacturer to required posting of all patron requirements, warnings, and/or exclusions.
  • Training: Add department authority to adopt rules for employee training to create a minimum standard for operator training, retraining, and training program documentation.
  • Maintenance: Increase reporting requirements for documenting maintenance and any changes made to safety systems and restraints.
  • Ride Commissioning and Certification: Add department authority to require permanent rides to obtain a 3rd party review and certification performed by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory.
  • Restraints and Safety Systems: Add a requirement that safety sensors and other limiting devices may not be capable of adjustments that exceed the maximum tolerance from the original manufacturer’s settings. It will also require the operator to provide the department with data from the manufacturer on all tolerances, settings, and specifications related to patron restraints and safety systems.
  • Accident Notifications: Increase the required accident reporting for amusement rides. Currently, owners are required to notify the department if a patron receives injuries that require the patron to be transported to a hospital. We would like to change this requirement to include any patron that requires emergency services regardless of what type of facility they visit for emergency treatment.
  • Amusement Ride Monitoring Program: Add new monitoring positions to perform unannounced visits to observe operations and ensure they are being conducted following proper procedures, verify proper training of on-duty employees, and observe the ride in operation to detect unsafe ride conditions that may have occurred following the last inspection. If unsafe conditions are found, the inspector would immediately remove the ride from service to ensure patron safety and then follow up with appropriate administrative actions.

“When accidents occur, often it’s because many small issues happen at the same time to create a perfect storm. Our goal here was to identify the issues that caused that perfect storm in Tyre’s case and work to prevent them from occurring again,” Commissioner Fried said in a statement.

Fried continued, “This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue – this is a safety issue, and as leaders, we have a responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that these rides are safe for the people of Florida.”