Who inspects the inspectors?12 March 2021
/ by Aldo Avancini /
Aldo Avancini looks at a very important issue when it comes to ride safety /
Lately, I have increasingly seen the term “natural” used to back the stated (and often claimed) superior quality of a product. Hemlock or curare are also completely natural products, I could say, yet it is not advisable to use them if you care about health!
Equally mysterious to me is the thought of someone who gets hurt for example by skiing on a splendid sunny day, and then explains the accident as a chance event during the last descent of the day. Have you ever heard of a skier who got injured on the second-to-last descent? Or on the third-to-last?
Similarly, the passenger on a ride entrusts their physical safety (and sometimes also that of their family) to a complex mechanism called a “ride”, in which ever more stringent, detailed and controlled rules are applied to the design, construction and management (both regarding planning, maintenance and operation). But controlled by whom? What’s missing to close this circle? It may seem obvious or self-evident, but certainty and confidence in the control over the inspectors may be lacking.
Latin poet Juvenal wrote “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (literally “Who will guard the guards?”), or in our case, who inspects the inspectors? Surely in Roman times, both civil and military engineering was highly valued, and there were professionals who left us more than mere traces; they left us the best of their works that still today work perfectly and are a source of admiration. The Romans were also responsible for studying new materials – such as air-setting lime, pozzolanic binders or crushed terracotta – and the design of machines that would make work easier and faster, and much more.
Getting back to today and the rides business, there is clearly little propensity to create a body of specialists who do not participate directly in the design of the ride nor have important and direct economic ties with the manufacturer, yet who supervise compliance with regulations during the various phases. Yet this situation will become more and more in demand as the modus operandi of manufacturers evolves.
Why has such a pool of specialists not been created? Perhaps because one of the basic characteristics would be expertise in the typical problems of the sector, combined with proven – I stress proven – multidisciplinary knowledge of the various construction and inspection technologies, as well as obviously knowledge of the applicable standards. These are all characteristics that if combined in a single structure would be hard to manage, not only in economic terms, but also due to the understandable confidentiality regarding trade secrets and also the vastness of knowledge that would be required. The obligatory independence during the various phases would also require the various aspects to be managed independently.
It could be said that a structure of national importance already exists. True, but its role is fundamentally procedural, i.e. it checks “that the paperwork is procedurally correct”. I wonder: is it not equally, if not even more important, the “paperwork being substantially correct” to guarantee guests that they will have fun on safe rides?
Taken from Games&Parks Industry February 2021, page 76
Ing. Aldo Avancini / Proposta Srl / email@example.com
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