Is anyone checking the rides to protect the public?
Generally speaking rides are inspected by independent inspectors on behalf of the public (i.e., a governmental agency) and often also by independent inspectors hired by ride owners or liability insurers as well as by the mechanics and operators.
In Canada, the rides are regulated at the provincial level rather than nationally. The government inspection is frequently by the same inspectorate that carries out elevating devices inspections, because of the similarity of the technology. In Ontario, for example, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority has responsibility.
Different American states handle inspection and investigation and licensing different ways. The CPSC maintains a listing. The National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO) and Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers (AIMS) provide a forum for professional development and recognition of credentials among inspectors. NAARSO also provides a directory to link to state regulations.
Despite the many eyes that may check the rides regularly, there are many ways a ride can fail that cannot be seen from the surface. For example, certain rides or components must be replaced or tested in a laboratory at certain intervals and the provincial inspectors verify this through documentation. Despite being in flawless condition, the ride can still have an accident if conditions change, and conditions can change at any time because the ride is in continual contact with the public. Operators must operate the ride in the prescribed safe manner and must also ensure that riders comply with safety rules every time the ride is operated. In addition to the operator “inspecting” the riders, the carnival or park management will “inspect” the operation, and governmental or insurance inspectors will periodically audit the effectiveness of the management system.