COLUMBUS – Ohio is adding another layer of protection to its amusement ride safety measures.
Agriculture Director Fred L. Dailey said the changes will help widen the margin of electrical safety for rides operating within the state.
Gov. Bob Taft signed the new law as part of the state’s biennial budget bill.
Developing changes. The changes, developed by the Ohio Ride Safety Advisory Council, the department, state legislators, electrical safety experts and the Office of the Governor, speak directly to a 2003 accident at the Lake County Fair in which a faulty electrical hookup from an overhead utility pole killed 8-year-old Greyson Yoe.
“The tragic accident that took the life of Greyson Yoe is heartbreaking for everyone involved,” Dailey said.
The new law, he added, emphasizes that electrical safety “must be a priority for those who operate rides in Ohio.”
Dailey said many event sponsors are already taking these protective measures, but those involved are working to fully implement the new law in time for the 2006 amusement ride season.
What’s new. The law explicitly outlines the requirements of a ride powered from a utility line and requires written certification, by a certified licensed electrician, that the power connection was installed in accordance with the National Electric Code.
The certification is required prior to the operation of any ride powered from an electric light company source, and the certificate must be made available to Ohio Department of Agriculture ride inspectors.
Last year’s incident. In 2004, unlicensed Lake County Fair electrician, Nicholas Rock, was convicted of reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter for incorrectly wiring a portable ride to an overhead utility pole and failing to connect the ground wire.
Under the new law, he would not be legally qualified to perform this connection.
In addition, ride owner Eugene Chafee and ride supervisor James Highway were sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to attempted involuntary manslaughter and attempted child endangering, respectively.
Two Ohio Department of Agriculture ride inspectors pleaded no contest to misdemeanor dereliction of duty for procedural mistakes that did not contribute to the accident.
The department of agriculture’s Division of Amusement Ride Safety works with portable ride operators, go-kart tracks, and permanent parks to inspect and license more than 2,500 rides before they are allowed to operate.
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