Last June we first reported on a rollercoaster accident that had occurred at Six Flags Great America located in California. At the time we wrote about how the accident had occurred on the the iFlight Deck rollercoaster. At the time, it was believed that the accident had occurred after a cell phone was dropped by one of the coaster’s riders. When a mechanic went to retrieve the phone for the guest, he was struck by a rollercoaster train that was subsequently sent down the track despite the worker being in a restricted area.
While it initially appeared that human error was to blame for the accident, additional details have emerged. While human error did certainly play a role in this accident, the error did not rest with the maintenance worker. Rather, according to California Department of Industrial relations and OSHA, park policies and procedures for addressing issues like this were insufficient.
What violations did OSHA find the Amusement Park Committed?
California’s Great America Theme Park is operated by Cedar Fair Southwest. Cedar Fair parks include major amusement facilities from coast to coast. Notable parks are Dorney Park, Kings Dominion, Knott’s, and Cedar Point. According to representatives from Cal/OSHA, “Employers are required to maintain a comprehensive injury and illness prevention program that addresses all safety hazards. Cedar Fair Southwest’s lack of safety protocols and training for employees contributed to this serious workplace accident.”
Apparently Cedar Fair had failed to implement policies and protocols addressing employee actions when a personal item must be retrieved from a restricted area in the vicinity of a ride or attraction. When an employee must venture into a restricted area, there must be policies and procedures for workers to follow regarding shutting the ride down. Furthermore, workers must be trained that the rollercoaster or any ride must be shut down prior to permitting a worker to enter a restricted zone. The plan was never developed and therefore workers never received the required training.
In all, OSHA cited the park for eight workplace safety violations. Two of the violations were directly related to the June accident that caused a severe TBI to the park worker and injured the hand of a rollercoaster rider. Five of the violations were considered “serious.” OSHA regulations hold that a serious violation is one where there is a realistic possibility of death or serious bodily harm. In all, the theme park faces penalties equaling $70,200.
Past Violations by the Amusement Park
Unfortunately, these violations are not the first citations by Cal/OSHA in the park’s recent history. According to records posted online by the federal Department of Labor, the park has been cited six times over the past ten years. Of those six citations for violations, one was serious. This incident involved the 2007 accident on the “Xtreme Skyflyer.” Here, the injury occurred when an employee was inspecting one of the cables used on the ride. While inspecting the cable, the employee fell from a ladder. He was hospitalized for his injuries.
For its part, the park issued a statement in response to the announcement of the violation claiming that, “The safety of all guests and associates is our highest priority.” The next statement put forward by the park’s spokesperson is that, “It is our intent to appeal each of the citations that have been put forward.” It is unclear as to what grounds the park will appeal under since the spokesperson did not state that the park did, indeed, have a policy and engaged in the required training. Furthermore, it is unclear what steps the park will take to ensure that an accident of this type does not reoccur.
Injured in an Amusement Park Accident?
If you have suffered a serious injury in an amusement park, theme park, or fair accident the experienced personal injury attorneys of Reiff & Bily can fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential initial amusement park injury consultation call us at 800-861-6708 or contact us online.