Tulsa State Fair ride inspectors working to ensure safety
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Thursday, September 27, 2012
9/27/12 at 6:40 AM
Inspectors from the Oklahoma Department of Labor have spent the week checking and inspecting the more than 50 rides that will be running during the Tulsa State Fair.
Inspectors began their work Monday, starting with the Sky Ride and the Comet II roller coaster.
Five inspectors are checking on the rides before the fair begins Thursday evening, and then two inspectors will be at the fairgrounds during the entire run of the fair, Labor Commissioner Mark Costello said.
In addition to Labor Department inspectors, private inspectors hired by Murphy Brothers, the midway and ride-operating company, will also be on hand, Costello said.
Parents trust that rides at the fair are safe for their children, he said, so it's important that the equipment meets state and federal standards.
Senior ride inspector Randy McGinnis said the 2012 Tulsa State Fair is his 15th state fair for inspecting rides.
Inspections start when rides pull into the parking lot, where inspectors examine the central operating mechanisms. They also look at the ride structure, equipment connections and safety devices such as lap bars and harness straps, McGinnis said.
As of Wednesday morning, one of the rides that had been inspected will not be operating when the fair starts due to a hydraulic issue, he said.
Murphy Brothers also provides the Labor Department with any certifications held by ride operators.
Last year, there were no major ride-related problems during the fair. More than 55 rides were brought to the fairgrounds for the 11-day event.
During the fair, the two Labor Department inspectors as well as the private inspectors will continue to monitor rides and ride operators to ensure safety procedures are followed and the rides are working properly, McGinnis said.
"We are very passionate about what we do," he said.
Costello said the five inspectors from the Labor Department have 20-plus years' experience when it comes to ride inspection.
If there is a problem with a ride, or if someone is injured, the ride is shut down immediately, information is obtained from the injured person and an investigation begins, McGinnis said.
The ride must be reinspected before it can open again, and many times the issue is not a mechanical problem.
"It could be operator error; it could be patron error," he said. "The thing we tell people is know your limits, know what you can handle" when it comes to rides.
Tulsa State Fair
Where: Expo Square, on 21st Street between Louisville and Yale avenues
When: Thursday through Oct. 7
Building hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Oct. 4; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 7.
Midway hours: 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday; noon to 11 p.m. Monday through Oct. 4; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Oct. 7.
Admission: Adults - Friday through Sunday $10, and Monday through Thursday $8; members of the military, people 62 or older, and 5- to 12-year-olds - $6; children younger than 5 - free
Parking: Free and $10 parking throughout the fairgrounds; free Fair Transit System operates 6-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m.-midnight Friday, and noon-midnight weekends with shuttle locations at Tulsa Public Schools Education Service Center, 3027 S. New Haven Ave.; Hale High School, 6960 E. 21st St.; and Tulsa Promenade, 41st Street and Yale Avenue.
For more: tulsaworld.com/tulsastatefair
Original Print Headline: Ride inspectors work to ensure safety
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Allen McElyea of the Oklahoma Department of Labor inspects a ride Wednesday in preparation for the Thursday opening of the Tulsa State Fair. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World