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Queensland Government Issues Alerts for Inflatable Water Balls and Whizzer-type Amusement Rides

Queensland Government Issues Alerts for Inflatable Water Balls and Whizzer-type Amusement Rides
November 29, 2010

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has issued alert notices to the owners and operators of inflatable water balls of the possible risks with their use along with a safety alert is to inform amusement ride operators of hazards associated with the operation of Whizzer-type amusement rides. Both alerts provide some information on risk control measures with the alert on whizzer-type amusement rides including control measures “to minimise the risk of serious injuries.”

The alert on inflatable water balls highlights the recent arrival of these products in Australian, stating that the operation of the devices sees patrons “enclosed inside the inflatable water balls, which are sealed and inflated through the zip like mechanism after the patron enters.” The occupied water balls are then floated on water.

The alert states “currently, there is no applicable Australian Standard that specifically covers the design of these devices. AS 3533.4.1-2005: Land-borne inflatable devices does not apply to inflatable water balls as they are used over the water. 

Identified potential risks could see the patron:

• “Suffocated or drowned in deep water (especially a young child) if the ball bursts or deflates suddenly without adequate supervision; 
• “Suffer from heat-related stress when using the ball in warm weather conditions for an extended period; 
• “Experience loss of oxygen if remaining in the ball for an extended period;
• “Sustain body injuries as a result of collision with other patrons or the side wall of the pool.” 

Suggested control measures “should be in place to prevent injuries, including the risk of asphyxiation and heat stress. Such measures should include: 

• Only using balls that have been manufactured from heavy duty material that is durable and resistant to degradation from ultraviolet light; 
• Obtaining information from the manufacturer or supplier on the safe use of the balls; 
• Only using the balls in shallow pools (e.g. no more than 400 mm deep) ;
• Visually checking the balls before each use to ensure they are not damaged 
• Checking the pool and its vicinity to ensure there are no sharp objects that could possibly damage the ball and cause sudden deflation or cause injury to the patron inside; 
• Positioning attendant(s) to provide rapid assistance to a patron should a ball deflate suddenly. 

The safety alert on ‘Whizzer’, ‘Cha Cha’ and ‘Sizzler’-type amusement rides highlights several incidents involving this type of ride have occurred in Queensland and identified the main hazards with these rides as being: 

1. “While seated and restrained in the carriage, riders are able to manoeuvre themselves into a position, where they may be ejected from the carriage. 
2. “Riders are able to unlock the rider restraint system and be ejected from the carriage. 
3. “Operating with critical safety components of the carriage removed (e.g. carriage nose cone, which acts as a foot-well), allowing the rider’s legs to dangle from the fast moving carriage and to come into contact with stationary parts of the ride.” 

Suggested control measures are

1. ”Modification of rider restraint. It is a requirement for rider restraint systems on these rides to be modified to effectively restrain the rider (especially smaller size riders). The goal is to prevent the rider from manoeuvring into a position (e.g. moving the legs up close to the body), where they could be ejected from the carriage. 
2. Secondary lock. Where the primary locking system can be unlocked by the rider, a secondary locking mechanism must be installed to prevent the rider from unlocking the restraint system while the ride is in motion. 
3. Removal of critical safety components.

Amusement rides are not to be operated with critical safety components removed unless the: 

• Ride manufacturer states in the operator’s manual that the specific component/s can be removed when the ride is operating, or a suitably competent person, such as a professional engineer, provides written and signed instructions stating that this can be done, and 
• Level of risk is not increased in any way for the rider or the operator/s of the ride. 

The Safety Alert emphasizes that the Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 imposes health and safety obligations on all persons conducting a business or undertaking whether as employers, self-employed persons, designers, manufacturers, suppliers, installers and owners of plant and workers. 

More information on the safe design and use of amusement rides is included in the Plant Code of Practice 2005 and AS 3533 Amusement Rides and Devices

For more information call the Workplace Health and Safety Infoline on 1300 369 915,


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