COLUMBUS (AP) — The failure of Ohio State Fair officials to pass on a manufacturer’s warning that chairs on an overhead ride could fall apart has prompted Ohio’s agriculture director to seek new safety rules, according to a Columbus Dispatch report.
Newly appointed agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda, whose department oversees ride safety, announced Thursday that fair officials will be required to forward all letters from ride manufacturers about potential safety problems to state ride inspectors.
The newspaper found that fair officials last year withheld from inspectors a manufacturer’s letter from December 2017 that warned canopies above chairs on the SkyGlider ride were “starting to fall apart” because of corrosion and should be immediately repaired. The SkyGlider received a clean bill of health from inspectors before the fair opened in 2018.
“We want the public to know that this is on our radar,” said Pelanda, a former state representative appointed by Gov. Mike DeWine in January.
A state fair spokeswoman told the newspaper that nothing was done last year to address potential problems with the ride because the manufacturer’s president died shortly after issuing the warning.
Earlier this year, fair officials asked the State Controlling Board for money to replace all 95 chairs on the half-mile-long ride, a request they said was based on an inspection after the fair ended in 2018 with no mention of the manufacturer’s warning months earlier, the newspaper reported.
An investigation concluded that corrosion was to blame for the fair’s spinning and swinging Fireball ride breaking apart in July 2017, killing an 18-year-old man and injuring six others.
Among the rules changes sought by Pelanda is a requirement that ride operators include on inspection forms all safety and maintenance information from the manufacturer. A second rule would reclassify rides to identify those needing more comprehensive testing.
A third rule would require ride operators to respond within 14 days when an inspector has issued orders to repair or fix something on a ride.
State law says the agriculture director can change or add rules after the industry-controlled Advisory Council on Amusement Ride Safety reviews them and makes recommendations.
Pelanda also is requesting a 26 percent increase in the Ride Safety Division’s budget to $1.8 million.