Rules Proposed For Amusement, Water Parks

Friday, February 20th 2009, 9:51 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY -- New rules are proposed with the intention of making amusement and water parks safer for Oklahoma families.

The state has had its fair share of amusement ride-related accidents, some resulting in death.

"We've had some serious accidents over the years," said Tom Monroe, director of safety standards for the Oklahoma Department of Labor. "In fact, two years ago at the Oklahoma State Fair we had a gentleman killed through operator error."

Monroe says more than one-third of all recent injuries on rides in Oklahoma were a result of operator error, hence the new rules.

"We hope that it will prevent accidents as a result of operator error or operator making mistakes or not operating rides properly," Monroe said.

The rules would mandate all amusement ride operators be licensed, including amusement parks, water parks, carnivals and state fairs.

It would also include some inflatables similar to these, but big enough to be considered amusement rides.

Monroe says the state will cut back on the danger by mandating a person be trained by a licensed operator before they can use one.

"It may take a little time for them to do this," he said. "But it provides us with the proper documents to ensure we've got quality operators out there operating all of these rides."

Water parks like Big Splash in Tulsa and White Water in Oklahoma City will see additional rules. The state will test its water to make sure it is safe.

Monroe says the state has already found some water to be less than sanitary, but won't say where.

"We found that no one was testing the water ... and we found some pretty bad water at some of these places, like some of these water slides and that sort of thing," he said.

The new rules have been submitted to the state legislature for approval. If approved they'll likely go into effect early next year.