It’s fair season again and that means cotton candy, friendly competitions and of course, rides. But as you stroll hand-in-hand with your children through the Midway’s thrilling rides with spins, drops and twists, you might be wondering how safe the rides are for kids.
Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor Melissa McLawhorn Houston has two sons herself, ages 11 and 13, so we asked her what parents should be aware of concerning amusement ride safety.
One of the Department of Labor’s three primary functions is regulating, licensing and inspecting a number of local industries, one of them being amusement rides. Houston said Oklahoma is one of 30 states that regulates amusement rides and the state actually has one of the highest levels of regulation in the country for amusement rides.
Rides at the fair, for example, have three levels of inspection that begin as soon as the trucks roll into the parking lot to begin setting up, Houston said. Inspectors stay on-site throughout the fair to ensure operators are using the rides properly, as well. But even though the rides and the operators go through a strict inspection process, there are still two things parents can do to keep their children safe at the fair, she said:
- Look for a certificate of inspection issued by the Oklahoma Department of Labor and be sure the ride has been certified to operate in 2017.
- Respect the height requirement on the ride.
“We have very specific regulations on height that are there from the ride’s manufacturer. When you see a sign, it’s not about the maturity of the child, it’s an engineering schematic for the restraint system,” Houston said. “So don’t try to spike their hair or have them stand on their tippy toes or argue about how your child is mature enough to ride. It’s not about their maturity, it’s about the restraint system working properly. That’s one of the biggest issues we face.”