North Carolina inspectors responsible for checking rides at Carowinds kept records on every problem they discovered during their annual inspections at the amusement park that straddles both Carolinas near Charlotte, N.C.
Their counterparts in South Carolina simply marked the rides in their state as satisfactory, adding no details to their reports about what repairs, if any, were needed to certify the rides as safe, according to records reviewed by The Herald of Rock Hill.
The details provided in the North Carolina records allows state inspectors to easily compare information from different amusement parks, said Tommy Petty, deputy bureau chief for the elevator and amusement device bureau of the N.C. Department of Labor.
“If we see a pattern of problems, we can get in touch with the manufacturer of the ride,” Petty said.
Some industry officials think minor details that are quickly corrected don’t need to show up on inspection reports. But National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials spokesman Jim Barber said those details have helped amusement park operators in lawsuit by showing that rides where people were hurt were properly maintained.
North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that require such extensive documentation, Barber said.
But things are changing in South Carolina. The state should add more details to inspection reports as part of new regulations by Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation in response to a miniature train crash in Spartanburg that killed a child in March, agency director Catherine Templeton said.
State Occupational Safety and Health Administration told LLR officials that when its inspectors don’t come back with detailed notes, the workplace safety agency assumes they were not there, Templeton said.
While South Carolina inspection records showed no problems at Carowinds, the more detailed North Carolina documents reported 50 issues with the 12 rides in that state. Some requested checks of welds or replacing cotter pins on counterweights. Others were simpler, like replacing rotting boards on platforms.
The amusement park fixes any problems found before a final inspection report is issued. Rides are inspected daily and no ride can operate unless it passes, Carowinds spokeswoman Bryn Winborn said.
“It’s not running if anything is wrong,” she said.
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