#Rides Maintenance
28655 dated 15.04.2017
Published by
Enrico Fabbri
Enrico Fabbri
A look at how new safety officials are certified in the USA, and how they keep up-to-date: details of an organisation that has been operating for over 30 years and has more than 1,200 members
by Alberto Fabbri
Every January US-based NAARSO (National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials), organises a conference that sees the participation of hundreds of active and aspiring safety inspectors from across the United States. Most of the 50 states of the USA delegate these safety officials responsibility for annual inspections. The objective of NAARSO is to promote knowledge of ride safety in the industry, and it does so through its specialist courses and certifications that are issued to those who pass the qualifying exams. NAARSO provides 3 different levels of ride safety official qualification, with the possibility for anyone who can progressively pass the exams and remain certified to establish a career.

This year the conference was held in Orlando (Florida), with more than 450 participants from across the country. An aspiring safety official needs to attend a certain number of lessons provided for each level before sitting the exam and being certified. But that’s not all: once certified, officials must attend a number of other classes every year to remain certified. Being a safety official, then, is not a privilege for life, but rather requires proof of keeping up-to-date with changes in the industry, year in year out.

We mentioned lessons, so what are they and how do they work? More expert safety officials who make themselves available hold classes on a particular topic, for example analysis of accelerations on a ride or the aspects to be considered when inspecting a Ghost Train, and aspiring and active safety officials attend so as to learn from the experience of the teacher. Other courses cover the basics of inspection, for example, US regulations on electrical systems, correct ride installation procedures or how to analyse and understand the manufacturer’s user and maintenance manual, all aspects that an aspiring safety official needs to know off by heart.

One of the most important activities of safety officials is to keep up-to-date with the service bulletins issued by manufacturers or other international safety officials, which indicate important changes or maintenance operations to ensure safety.

The NAARSO organisation is very strict in verifying effective participation at the classes and during exams. I participated for the first time this year and took the courses to become a Level 1 ride safety official. The exam was very difficult, there were more than 150 questions, some general knowledge but others that were very specific, and it took me more than 4 hours to complete.

NAARSO also organises courses for ride operators, classes that teach aspiring ride operators the basic safety and maintenance criteria, as well as how to comply with the most important rules for ride and above all passenger safety. Rides are very complex machines that require specific professionalism.

My experience at NAARSO in January was very interesting, a week of full immersion with the chance to meet senior safety officials from different parts of the USA and from other countries, such as Canada and Dubai.

The ability of NAARSO to share experiences and to create an organisation that trains safety officials and certifies them is certainly the key to its success, which strengthens the organisation itself and safety in the long term. It is a model that is still lacking here in Europe and that we should learn from. If we compare what is happening on our continent, only very few people know what happens in other European countries and this makes it enormously difficult for operators to be effectively free to do business.

Written by Mr. Alberto Fabbri alberto@fabbrirides.com
Article originally published in Games Industry (Italy) magazine
Original date: April 2017

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