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Why Safety Policies Matter for your Theme Park or Attraction

Opinion

The industry recently received a reminder of how failing to follow your safety procedures or correct unsafe work practices has enormous consequences for your business.

greg van gompelBy Greg Van Gompel

On April 10, 2013, The Walt Disney Company, dba Disneyland Resort was issued six citations by the State of California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) for violations of California safety regulations.  Of the six violations, one was classified as a General Violation, one was deemed a Repeat Violation, one was a Serious Violation and three were written up as Willful Violations.  If Disneyland Resort does not appeal the citations and/or the amount of the proposed penalties, it is facing penalties in a total amount of $234, 850.

Related: Between a Rock and a Hard Place or You can’t Always Get What You Want / Thoughts on an Amusement Ride Accident

While most facilities have an ongoing relationship with local safety inspectors, the inspectors have no choice but to write violations after a workplace accident occurs.  And no one can predict when workplace accidents happen.  In this case, a contractor, HSG Inc., was onsite at Space Mountain to clean its exterior.  According to one of the citations, on and prior to November 21, 2012, Disneyland Resort failed to provide independent anchorages for support line(s) and safety line(s) on … Space Mountain at Disneyland Resort.

Then on November 21st, Disneyland Resort allowed employees of HSG Inc. to connect support line(s) and safety line(s) to unapproved anchorages when they cleaned the exterior of Space Mountain from boatswain’s chairs and controlled descent apparatus (CDA). As a result, an employee of HSG, Inc. suffered serious injuries when his unapproved anchorage point failed causing him to fall down the exterior of Space Mountain.

It’s also important to note that one of the citations issued against Disneyland is for the failure to implement and maintain all the required elements of its Injury and Illness Prevention Program.  While all facilities should have some type of a safety Plan, stop to think how well is the plan being implemented.  In this instance, the inspector wrote up the failure to implement the Disneyland plan as a willful serious violation with a proposed penalty of $70, 000.  Can your facility afford that payment?

While experts think that attendance to Disneyland has not been affected by the issued citations, it has voluntarily closed down Space Mountain for over 15 days during the safety review.  Can your facility afford to have one your signature rides down for nearly 1/6th of your season if you operate a seasonal facility?  I didn’t think so.  For these and other reasons, safety should be important to your facility or attraction.

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