OSHA’s Report on Adventureland Death

The other day we seen the OSHA Report on the death of an Adventureland worker last June.  If you remember, he was an Assist on the Raging River.  Their are 2 Assists and one Operator on this ride.  It is a water raft ride that is run by conveyors at the beginning and end to bring the raft out of the water to load and unload.  The conveyers are 10 ft. below from what I heard.  Their is a series of six different conveyors and buttons the operator has to work.  Each button is pushed manually when needed to move the rafts by conveyer up to the unload and load position.

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The operator is sitting above to have a view of the ride, and the assists.  The Assists unload and load each raft.  When they are done and have all riders in the raft and back in their positions, they give a thumbs up to the Operator.  Their are no safety switches or interlocking devices to secure the ride.  So when the accident happened, the raft prematurely lurched, and pushed the two Assists over.  One was caught by a bystander, the other was Steve Booher.  He fell the 10 feet to the conveyors and injured his head and arms.  Unfortunately, he never regained consciousness and died the following Sat.  We were never told about the accident, nor told when he passed away.  It was all found out by articles in the Des Moines Register.  I did witness the EMTS rushing him out or I wouldn’t have known either.  This man was a 68 year old retired postal employee form Oklahoma.  Steve and his wife came to Adventureland to enjoy their summer working in the park.  He only worked 1 week.  So much speculation has been made since then as to who was at fault.  Was it the Operator?   Was it the Park?   Was it the training procedures?   I believe it was a little bit of everything.  First of all, I don’t think from what I’ve witness as a whole, their training process is very good at all.  Secondly,  with all of these conveyors and buttons and an open conveyor 10 feet below, why would you depend on the 2 Assists to just give you a thumbs up to continue?   That is all that is done on a number of rides.  Some have an interlocking system that all parties have to push a switch to allow the ride to continue.  Many of them rely on simply a thumbs up from both Assists.  Now if you have 6 sets of conveyors to operate, isn’t it understandable an accident can happen?  We can all get careless sometimes.

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So this is the copy of the Iowa OSHA Citation and Notification of Penalty that was posted on the office door.  Bottom line…..Fine  $4,500……….Really..Thats All….That’s all a life is Worth?…..But at least if nothing else, it does directly fault the park.  I’m sure that opens up a huge lawsuit for the family.  I do think they deserve so much more.  Today, on 2 different Adventureland Facebook sites this was posted

It is an article by the Des Moines Register about the Citation.

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Adventureland Fined $4,500 After Worker’s Death           desmoinesregister.com

Federal regulators allege that Adventureland park broke Iowa law by failing to create a safe work environment for the 68-year-old man who died from injuries he sustained while working on the Raging River ride in June.

Iowa’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the theme park $4,500 this month in the death of Steve Booher. The Altoona amusement park has 15 days to contest the agency’s findings.

One of Booher’s family members said the fine “seems a little light.”

“We’re talking about the loss of life,” said Tim Overlin, Booher’s nephew who lives in Des Moines.

The Raging River sends riders through rapids on large circular rafts. Booher was working at the ride June 7, helping riders get out of the rafts when the conveyor belt carrying the rafts began to move forward.

The movement caused him to fall from the loading platform onto the conveyor belt.

Booher injured his head and arms and was on life support at a Des Moines hospital for several days. He died June 11.

Jens Nissen, Iowa OSHA administrator, said the $4,500 fine was the maximum his agency could assess Adventureland for this type of violation. OSHA found no evidence that the theme park willfully violated worker safety protocols, which would have prompted a larger fine.

The ride is operated by a worker in a control tower above the platform. The disconnect between the operator and the workers below is the primary issue inspectors identified.

Iowa OSHA found that Adventureland should implement engineering controls that would prevent the conveyor belt from moving rafts while workers are still loading and unloading passengers.

That could include interlocked sensor devices or interlocked buttons “to ensure that ride assistants are positioned in a safe location before the boats are allowed to be advanced by the ride operator,” according to the agency’s citation.

Molly Vincent, a spokesperson for Adventureland, declined to answer any questions about the OSHA fine or the changes recommended by the agency.

Overlin said the ride should have automatic controls that stop it if a worker is in the path of the rafts. He also questioned the amusement park’s training requirements.

Booher had worked at Adventureland for six days. He and his wife were retirees from Oklahoma who planned to spend the summer living in their RV and working at the park.

The day he fell was the first he had worked on the Raging River ride.

The Raging River reopened the day after Booher’s incident.

A search of OSHA’s federal database found no previous violations for Adventureland. Nationwide, 10 workers were killed on the job at amusement parks between 2011 and 2014, the most recent years for which OSHA fatality data is available.

Amusement park rides, including the Raging River, are inspected annually by the Iowa Division of Labor. The Raging River was inspected on April 28 and then again on June 8, following Booher’s fall.

Both inspections determined that the ride was operating as designed, said James Bowry, manager of the division’s elevator, boiler and amusement ride bureau.

The ride will be inspected again after the park implements changes recommended by OSHA, he said. It is operating currently, the division said.

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6 thoughts on “OSHA’s Report on Adventureland Death

  1. There was two accidents on that ride last year. The operator move the ride too early. There is not enough training. I worked there for 3 year. When I was the operator of the raging river, I would step away for the controls. When I got thumbs up and new they were off the ride. Then I would step back to the controls. Yes the safety should be updated.

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  2. Are we now “the disposable generation?”. When does it become cheaper to pay the fine than implement changes? Now social security will only pay out one check instead of two… Shocking! And extremely sad….

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    • Soon after this, some ride engineers was see in the park. Apparently they weren’t Adventureland employees, so it sounds like the park had already gone to work on updating the ride control system. Unless it was a coincidence.

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  3. Very interesting and informative blog. Makes one wonder about going to amosement parks. Even Disney lately has had some problems. Thanks for the info.

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  4. Most training can be completed in about ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the ride. There are some rides that do require much more time and the trainers know that. They also do not leave until they are sure that the operator/assistant knows their job. Most rides have safety features that do not allow the ride to move unless everything is just right. That includes restraints, gates, etc… This was one ride that unfortunately did not have those features. Most amusement park rides are extremely safe. The ones mentioned in the news lately have to do with either problems with the ride itself (the water slide or ferris wheel) or people that never should have been on the ride in the first place (like the three year old on the roller coaster). If you do not think something is safe though, you do not have to ride. This was a freak accident and even though it is easy to try to place the blame, a person’s life was lost. It was an accident and it is time to forgive because there will be people that will be affected by this event for the rest of their lives (operator/assistant/guests). I am not saying that we should forget about Stephen or his family because this was a horrible accident. God is the one in charge and has plans for all of us that do not always make sense. But we need to think about all the people involved. Changes to the ride will be implemented unfortunately too late

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