The collapse of a water ride at Big Splash Water Park in Tulsa, Okla., has spurred state department officials and politicians to begin inspecting all of Oklahoma?s waterpark rides.
The move is in response to a June 8 incident when a section of the park?s water coaster collapsed while an 11-year-old girl was riding it. The girl was not injured, but the accident set off a flurry of inspections. The labor commissioner dispatched five inspectors to evaluate Big Splash and the state?s largest park, WhiteWater Bay Water Park.
Tom Monroe, the state?s safety standards director and chief amusement ride inspector, said the inspections modeled after ASTM International criteria would be the first of many.
Previously, no inspections were conducted. Water-ride inspections are spotty at best nationwide, though no good data exists.
In Oklahoma, the six certified amusement-ride inspectors will conduct evaluations of the state?s waterparks two to three times during the summer and once or twice during the off-season. Currently, there are 25 to 30 parks on the agency?s list.
State Rep. Randy Terrill pointed out that while waterparks pay independent engineering companies to inspect their rides for insurance purposes, a state inspection would be different. ?Department of Labor employees would have safety at the front of their minds,? Terrill said.
Along with state Rep. Ron Peterson, Terrill is laying the groundwork for a bill that would change the state?s definition of ?amusement ride.? It would give the Labor Department clear authority to inspect all aspects of a waterpark, from slides to water quality, the latter of which is currently the duty of the Health Department.
Amber Beck, Big Splash Water Park?s manager, said that she is glad to have another set of eyes inspect the rides and welcomes the move.