The rides and roller coasters at a theme park scheduled to open in Florida will not have to undergo the safety scrutiny of a state department, according to the Orlando Sentinel. In an exemption offered to theme parks that employ 1,000 or more people, Legoland Florida, scheduled to open next month, will govern itself. Park employees will be conducting their own ride inspections.
For amusement parks that do not meet these criteria, safety inspections are conducted by the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to protect people from being injured on the premises. Some view the safety exemption as a potentially risky move, considering the number of accidents that have occurred on roller coasters and rides at similar amusement parks throughout the country.
As of now, Legoland currently employs 994 individuals, falling short of the minimum requirement. However, the park has contract offers out to six additional employees, which would qualify them for the ride safety exemption.
This does not mean the park will be free of any and all safety standards. Florida law requires exempt parks to hire full-time safety inspectors to keep on staff. From the inspections conducted by those professionals, the park is required to submit annual affidavits to confirm that rides are being inspected along with keeping tabs on injuries.
However, opponents of this idea claim that parks often underreport the number of injuries sustained on park rides, which would mislead the state.
Proponents for the safety exemption say that parks do not need the supervision of the state to keep rides safe since they have plenty of incentives built in. Park officials will do everything to avoid injuries that would prompt a lawsuit or negative press. Also, proponents of the act say parks have the resources and know-how to design safety plans far more intricate than the state could, as the state department generally focuses on ride safety at traveling carnivals and fairs.
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Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Florida won’t inspect Legoland rides,” Jason Garcia and Sara K. Clarke, Sept. 27, 2011