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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A Workamper Has Died at Adventureland

This has been a very sad week at Adventureland.  I have given this a lot of consideration as to whether to write about this terrible accident.  Death is something that is inevitable.  At Eastgate Park in Texas, we have learned that it happens much more as everyone is a Senior.  It is sad, but accepted as the ending of life.  This is totally not expected by any means.   We must learn something by this happening.  It is a very sad time for this family, but let us all learn from this accident about safety.
I was working in an area called The Dragon.  Early afternoon, suddenly a golf cart came flying through clearing the people franticly.  Right behind was another golf cart.  On the back was a stretcher with a man in our park uniform.  He was very still.  Out of his mouth was a blue tube and a man was straddling him, working on his neck.  We later found out that he had fallen from the Raging River Ride down to the conveyor mechanism.   We heard he had head injuries and his feet were very injured.  For the next several days, nothing was heard.  The Park Management has never acknowledged this.  We did hear that the state came in for inspections, and found everything ok.  The ride was again opened.   OSHA of course is involved also.  So I suppose their are legal reasons as to why their has been no acknowledgment.  Sunday we seen this article in the DesMoines Register.  Its a very sad way to find out.  I have copied the article for all to read:
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Steve Booher and his wife, Gladys, were enjoying retirement, traveling the country in their RV and visiting family and friends along the way.

Recently, the Oklahoma couple came to central Iowa, where the 68-year-old retired postal carrier took a summer job at Adventureland in Altoona.

“Steve was having a great time (at Adventureland),” Gladys Booher wrote on Facebook. “He loved watching the kids enjoying the rides.”

Then, on his sixth day on the job, tragedy struck, said his nephew Tim Overlin, of Des Moines.

Steve Booher was tending the amusement park’s Raging River ride when he fell on the conveyor belt June 7, fracturing his skull and suffering a major brain injury, his wife wrote. He was unresponsive and on life support until he died Saturday at Mercy Medical Center.

Polk County Medical Examiner Gregory Schmunk confirmed the accidental death was caused by a head injury.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is now investigating the incident.

Overlin said the family’s only knowledge of the accident stems from the limited amount of information in local media reports.

“It’s just a lot of grief and shock,” he said.

Witness recounts events

Zach Bauer was waiting in line to ride the Raging River on the afternoon of June 7 when he heard a commotion on the loading platform.

He didn’t see Booher fall, turning toward the scene as onlookers flocked to provide help.

At the time, the conveyor belt moving the rafts was in motion, said Bauer, a 22-year-old who lives in Des Moines. Several onlookers were yelling at the ride operator to stop the ride, he said.

“I know it wasn’t just a case of him slipping and falling without the ride moving,” he said. “I saw the ride take the man off his feet.”

The Raging River’s ride operator is housed in a booth above the loading platform. On the platform, other workers help riders in and out of the boats. Bauer said the ride operator came down from the booth and appeared confused, because he left the ride running.

Bauer has ridden the Raging River countless times; he held Adventureland season passes for several years. He said the workers on the platform generally give the go-ahead for the Raging River to begin.

“Usually when everybody was ready to go, they would give the guy the thumbs up, because he’s up above the ride,” he said. “I’m not sure what caused him to push the button.”

“Anybody who’s been on that ride knows that once that conveyor belt starts, it’s kind of a jerk. It starts really quick.”

Adventureland spokeswoman Molly Vincent  did not respond to questions regarding Bauer’s account of the incident. She previously acknowledged the ride was in motion at the time of the accident.

Inspection cleared ride to continue

One day after Booher’s fatal fall, state officials inspected the water ride and deemed it safe and free of defects.

“We did our inspection and we found no adverse conditions as far as the ride was concerned,” said Jim Borwey, who oversees inspections of elevators, boilers and amusement parks for the Iowa Division of Labor.

State officials examine each amusement park ride before the beginning of the season, Borwey said. This spring, investigators found no major problems with the Raging River, which Adventureland classifies among its family rides.

Jens Nissen, administrator of Iowa’s OSHA program, said he could not release any details of his agency’s ongoing investigation into the accident.

The agency must report its findings within six months, he said, though he expects a quicker conclusion.

Altoona Police did not immediately respond to the accident, but are now investigating the case, said Sgt. David Tinker. Investigators do not believe there was any criminal act involved but are piecing together what happened.

“We’re still looking into it, seeing if some other medical issue would have caused this, caused him to fall,” Tinker said. “We’re not sure.”

A family man

Overlin described his uncle as a family man. Both he and his wife had previously been pastors.

“He was really low key but always positive and always happy,” he said. “He was just so in love with my aunt. He would do anything for her.”

A Des Moines funeral home cremated Booher’s remains.

His funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at the First Church of God in Pryor Okla.

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So my goal is NOT  to try to pass judgement on whose fault this might be.  Legally it will all be decided after all the investigations are complete.  It could be the Mangement, the Operator, or even Steve himself.  Or a combination of many things all happening at the wrong time.  It sure does raise many questions for them to decide.  We heard the operator was operating this ride for first time that day.  So did he get adequate training?  I do know Rich had orientation when we got here.  He had safety movies to watch.  Was their enough on the job training?  Should their be a safety switch that the assist needs to push to allow the operator to engage the ride.  So many questions for the authorities to answer.  For years this ride has operated safely……..until that day.

Basically, we need to learn from this tragic accident that Safety is ….NOT A JOKE….We take things for granted.  Just because we get by many times by doing things OUR WAY, it only takes once.   One time and an accident may occur.   It could injury you, your friends at work, or a terrible thought, your family member.  It could haunt you the rest of your life, that something that only took a second to occur has destroyed someone else’s life.  That’s a terrible burden to carry.  Think about safety….It is something we can follow everyday, in our jobs, our cars, and at home.  It is a part of life.

For all of my Advantage Logistics friends.  Our wonderful Sandy Knott was the best thing the company ever had .  She loved her job of Risk Control.  She was always living, breathing and preaching safety.   But it was heart felt.  She cared about all of us.  It was not about the paycheck, it was that she wanted us all to have a HAPPY, HEALTHY LIFE.   That was her daily goal.   She would laugh, and cry with us, what ever it took for her to help us make it through the day and stay safe.  They lost a wonderful caring soul the day she quit.   Thank You Sandy for everything you did for us, and everything you tried to do.  I sure hope your Appreciated for all your worth at your new job.

So Today is Tue.  One week ago Today,  this poor man went to work for his 6th day at Adventureland.  He never came home that day.  He passed away Saturday and his services were held today in Oklahoma.   How fast life can change in an instant.   This should have never have happened, but it did.   So lets learn something from it and go forward.