What now?

What now?

14 September 2019 Off By Facto Edizioni

/ by Gianni Chiari /

The new European technical standard on amusement ride safety, EN 13814:2019, has been published.

Gianni Chiari /  Member of CEN/TC 152, ASTM F 24, ISO/TC254 Technical Committees 

The EN 13814:2019 standard, i.e. the new European technical standard on the safety of rides, has finally arrived. What do its publication and its adoption in many European countries mean, in practical terms? What will change about attraction safety? Should we expect problems, and requests for new safety requirements that will be very different from before? 

These are all logical questions that our industry is wondering about since this new edition of the EN 13814 standard, “Safety of amusement rides and amusement devices,” was first announced.

/ SAFETY OF AMUSEMENT RIDES AND AMUSEMENT DEVICES / Part 1: Design and manufacture; Part 2: Operation, maintenance and use; Part 3: Requirements for inspection during design, manufacture, operation and use. This European Standard was approved by CEN on 13 May 2018. 

CEN members are bound to comply with the CEN/CENELEC International Regulations which stipulate the conditions for giving this European Standard the status of a national standard without any alteration. Up-to-date lists and bibliographical references concerning such national standards may be obtained on application to the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre or to any CEN member. This European Standard exists in three official versions (English, French, German). A version in any other language made by translation under the responsibility of a CEN member into its own language and notified to the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre has the same status as the official versions. 

CEN members are the national standards bodies of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom.

As I collaborated in first person to drafting the new standard, I can confirm that the spirit guiding the technical table was not to revolutionize completely an existing situation that, over the years, has shown to be working well. I cannot stress too often that, fortunately, our industry is one of the safest; it is so thanks to the commitment of everyone involved, because no one skimps on resources to make sure that nothing bad happens and that people can have fun in a carefree and safe way on our rides in parks throughout the world.

On the other hand, it wasn’t possible to continue indefinitely with a safety technical standard that goes back to 2004, even if effectively it’s still held true.

The new, 2019 technical standard has just been published in several European countries, Italy included. One of the important things to underline is that the EN 13814:2004 standard, i.e. the 2004 edition of the same series, which is now called “old edition,” must be withdrawn by May 31st, 2022, at the latest. This was a very clear choice made by all parties of the European Standards Committee CEN\TC 152, “Fairground and amusement park machinery and structures – Safety,” which has an Italian secretariat (managed by UNI). 

What was the goal of this choice? Fundamentally, to give time to ride manufacturers, to amusement parks and, not least, to competent authorities to verify, understand and apply the new safety requirements contained in the 2019 edition correctly. For the next 3 years it will be possible to keep designing, manufacturing, installing and inspecting attractions based on the 2004 edition of the standard in countries where it is still in force.

This is something that it is important to underline and to clarify thoroughly. I won’t go here into the technicalities of how European technical standards are prepared and published, but each single CEN member country can keep and use both the 2004 “old edition” standard and the new 2019 edition. However, beware: I said that they can, not that they must. So it may happen that one European country implements the new standard and at the same time deletes the old edition. Then, in that country it will be compulsory to use the 2019 standard exclusively, unless there are specific exemptions. For industry operators in that country, that could generate a drastic change in safety benchmarks. It may be nothing earth-shattering, but it will certainly mean more difficulties to reach, in a short time, a full understanding of the meaning and contents of a new technical document that is important and substantial, and comprised of 3 parts.

Unfortunately, this situation already happened in the UK a few weeks ago. I believe it was due to a misunderstanding between the British experts who participated to the European work table, and the British standards organization BSI, which published the new edition and at the same time withdrew the old one. Having cooperated with my good British colleagues, I cannot believe it was anything but an involuntary mistake, given how important their collaboration and their contribution were in drafting the 2019 edition of the standard. They were also in agreement on the 3-year period in which the 2 editions would be in effect side by side, because they also believed it would be useful. Speaking for myself, I hope that a transitory solution can be found for the UK, allowing the country to benefit from this possibility too.

So, now the period of application of the new standard begins. We know that it will cause doubts and uncertainty, as is often the case, but I believe that, together, we will be able to solve them efficiently. Common sense and being concrete will be enough. As I have said above, the new European standard is not meant to be a complete revolution of all the safety criteria that we have used in our work until now, and that have allowed us a benchmark that was accepted throughout Europe and beyond. The new standard makes some concepts and requirements more clear, which were unfortunately not so clear in the original edition. Moreover, many things have changed over 15 years, and it was necessary to highlight these changes in a standard that represents the state of the art. In our next articles we will delve deeper into the European standard and into a few important points that have changed. 

It is worth noting that the new 2019 edition is made of 3 parts: 

  • Part 1: Design and manufacture;
  • Part 2: Operation, maintenance and use;
  • Part  3: Requirements for inspection during design, manufacture, operation and use.

As in many other industries and many other technical standards, risk assessment has become a fundamental tool to ensure safety. Our industry is no exception, so the central importance of this fundamental process was underlined also for us.

What will happen in the future, and what other developments will there be on technical standards for ride safety? I can say that we are already looking further, beyond Europe. The collaboration to harmonize our standards with the ASTM standards by the technical committee F24 will go on.

In the worldwide ISO/TC254 technical committee, “Safety of amusement rides and amusement devices,” we are currently finishing the revision of the ISO 17842:2015 standard to prepare the 2019 edition. This technical standard is the sister standard to the new 2019 edition of the European standard, with a few interesting developments and improvements. Over the next few weeks, in Paris, during the industry trade show IAAPA Expo Europe, the international technical committee ISO/TC254 will hold a series of meetings to continue preparing the final version.

In a few years, it may also be possible to arrive to a unique technical standard on ride safety, that would be valid worldwide. It is an ambitious goal, certainly, but an attainable one too, thanks to the collaboration between CEN and ISO. It has already happened in many industries, with important positive effects for all international stakeholders. We hope that our industry, too, can reach this important goal. There is no shortage of commitment and goodwill among specialists. 

Taken from Games&Parks Industry September 2019, page 128

Gianni Chiari /  Member of CEN/TC 152, ASTM F 24, ISO/TC254 Technical Committees and “Una Giostra per Tutti” project manager.  info@technicalservices.it