Many attractions made by Italian manufacturers are operated on the North American market (USA), yet what are the reference standards? And what are the main differences from the European standards?
REFERENCE STANDARDS FOR RIDES ON THE NORTH AMERICAN MARKET (USA)
by Enrico Fabbri
The North American market has always been the destination of many rides made in Europe, and in particular in Italy. Over the last 10 years, the F24 committee, part of the ASTM standards organisation, has progressively upgraded its standards corresponding to the design, construction, use, maintenance and inspection of attractions for amusement parks, providing a series of detailed and useful guidelines. Nonetheless, the rules that are applicable in the USA have some major differences from those normally applied in Europe.
Standard ASTM-F1193 provides a general overview regarding quality in construction and testing of the rides, the minimum information needed on the rating plate affixed to the ride, and above all the criteria for issuing the Manufacturer’s Bulletins. The latter may be ‘Safety Alerts’, ‘Service Bulletins’ or more simply ‘Notifications’, depending on the importance of the information provided. Standard ASTM-F2291 defines the minimum requirements for the design and structural calculations of a ride, and contains details that are quite similar to EN-13814, including the requirement that fatigue strength must be determined based on a minimum of 35,000 hours of operation. Standards ASTM-F770 and ASTM-F853 respectively define the minimum requirements for operators regarding use and maintenance of the rides. Although the set of standards mentioned here very clearly illustrate the main requirements relating to the construction and operation of an amusement ride, there are substantial differences between what happens in practice in the USA, and what happens in Europe.
In Europe (and wherever EN-13814 is applied), an independent engineer must provide detailed initial analysis and approval of the ride, and with follow-up checks every year, in order to verify that the design corresponds to the minimum requirements established by EN-13814, including in terms of the ride being upgraded to meet any new standards. In many of the United States, on the other hand, ride analysis is generally documental (based on simple declarations), and there are no detailed checks of the calculations and the construction quality process, while visual inspection during operation at each carnival is performed by Inspectors, without going too much into detail. Operators need to establish their own maintenance and inspection operations based on the information received from the manufacturer and their own procedures, something that is usually only performed appropriately at major parks. The same applies to used rides that are imported into the USA.
Consequently, on one hand standards in the USA leave both manufacturers and operators a certain degree of freedom in interpreting what a safe product means, on the other there are no independent third parties that verify whether the manufacturer and the operator are suitably organised to adopt the necessary safety plans. In other words, a ride manufactured and sold 20 years ago by a manufacturer to an operator may never have been analysed in detail over the years by a competent professional, and consequently that ride does not fulfil the necessary updates introduced onto the market over time in terms of safety. In the event of personal injury, the manufacturer often remains liable for having sold a ‘defective’ ride for an unlimited time, and the operator similarly remains liable for not having implemented a suitable plan to upgrade the ride over time. In these cases, the costs and consequences of a court sentence may be quite considerable.
My opinion is that the system defined in EN-13814 ensures rides are safer over time than the system used in many of the United States, especially in a market where a ride can be used for a long time, without age limits.
Written by Mr. Enrico Fabbri firstname.lastname@example.org
Article originally published in Games Industry (Italy) magazine
Original date: July 2015
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