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Carnival Industry Meets with CSPC

4/12/2006

By MCW Staff

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On Tuesday, March 14th 2006 members of the carnival industry met with officials of the Consumer Product Safety Commission at their offices in Bethesda, MD. Among the industry representatives present were Bob Johnson, Outdoor Amusement Business (OABA) President, and its General Counsel, Wayne Pierce. Present for the CPSC were six representatives: the chief of staff, three engineers who investigate serious amusement ride accidents, the Director of Compliance and former general counsel, and the new Compliance Officer assigned to amusement ride safety issues. The meeting had been called to further a working relationship with the industry and provide general introductions for members of the industry and the agency that has jurisdiction over the Outdoor Amusement Business.

The CPSC has jurisdiction over mobile amusement rides, keeping accident statistics and investigating serious accident when they occur. The CPSC regards amusement ride operators as “retailers” and will be posting on its website an outline of the basic duties imposed on regulated retailers.

There were several topics of interest to the industry discussed during the meeting. First, there is a concern that although the confidentiality of amusement ride manufacturers is maintained in serious accidents, there is currently no opportunity to protect the identity of the amusement ride operator is such a case. Some industries, such as the automobile industry, have standard language in their governing contracts protecting both the car manufacturer and the dealership. This is language that the industry would like to see extended to amusement ride operators in their contracts with manufacturers.

Corrective Action Plans” are the actions of the CPSC after a serious accident in order to remedy any defect in the amusement ride or the operation thereof. Currently, the owner/operator of the amusement ride does not participate in developing Corrective Action Plans, except possibly in cases where the owner/operator is the first to report the incident to the CPSC. This seems strange to many because operators seemingly have the most extensive experience with the devices and they are the entities that will bear the cost of repair and modification. One possible solution is for language to be included in the standard manufacturer’s contract permitting the owner/operator to participate in the Corrective Action Plan.

Another issue of interest is the role of the owner when operating a ride manufactured by a foreign entity. Normally, the CPSC works with the manufacturer after a serious incident to correct any deficiency and solve any safety problems highlighted by the accident. In the case of foreign manufacturers, the CPSC does not have jurisdiction over them, so it may demand that the individual ride operator formulate the necessary corrective action plan.

Major modifications by the ride operator were another issue of concern. When an owner/operator makes a major modification to the ride, the concern is that the CPSC may treat them as a “manufacturer” for enforcement purposes. There have been some recent changes to the ASTM F24 standards stating that a major modification may cause the owner to be considered a manufacturer for certain purposes. Manufacturers have more rigorous duties and obligations than “retailers”, so the industry wanted to be clear of the status of an owner who makes a major modification. The CPSC officials agreed to review the situation.

Finally, the issue of inflatable attractions was discussed. The CPSC is currently undertaking activity to develop voluntary standards for the operation of these types of devices. There may also be some compliance activity pending with the devices, but the CPSC chose not to elaborate on this activity during the meeting.

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