Feature Article - February 2007
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Life Preservers

Considering safety from everyone’s perspective

By Allen F. Weitzel

Effective maintenance

One of the biggest influences on facility safety is a strong maintenance program. Maintenance managers know that attention to detail, documentation of actions, solid job knowledge and a prevention program are the primary elements of a safe operation. Safety and maintenance are one and the same. Each task must be approached and completed with safety in mind.

From the very first day, training each employee on safety procedures should be a primary priority. If one employee is willing to circumvent his or her own personal safety, then that employee also will likely take shortcuts that compromise the safety of your patrons.

A non-threatening environment that allows information to flow up and down the chain of command is vital to safety success. Maintenance managers should share inspection results from outside agencies with all departments, and abate as many safety recommendations as possible. Maintenance should review and approve all training manuals before publication, adding relevant maintenance or safety information. Maintenance staff also must be included in the creation of emergency procedures. Records of abated hazards can provide the foundation for the preventive maintenance program.

Preventive maintenance is the primary tool to reduce failures, malfunctions and questionable conditions. As allies, agencies such as insurance carriers, the local fire department, attraction manufacturers and safety consultants should be asked to audit the maintenance program annually.

Initial, refresher and new technology training are also important elements of a safe maintenance department.

Take It Slow
Safety takes time at Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy, Calif.

Cory Roebuck, manager of operations and maintenance at Bonfante Gardens, is a seven-year amusement park veteran.

Located in Gilroy, Calif., the park combines the beauty of magnificent gardens with the flavor of a traditional family theme park. The park features 19 rides, 22 attractions and four gardens. It employs approximately 550 seasonal associates.

The Bonfante Gardens philosophy is that it is important that associates take the time to do the job right. Associates should never be rushed. The mindset should be that all injuries are preventable.

All associates receive a park orientation when they are hired, which provides basic safety information. Following orientation, associates are directed to their specific department where they receive detailed job training. Each job function at the park is associated with a more specific code of safe practices.

All training is documented, and all ride operators are retrained annually, a requirement established by California's Permanent Amusement Ride Safety Inspection Program.

Supervisors must attend an annual training academy that includes eight hours of instruction. Safety protocols are a significant topic covered during this training.

If an associate is injured, the incident is investigated. The investigation and the results are presented to and signed off by the department manager, safety manager and department vice president. A similar system is practiced for guest-related incidents, in addition to any investigation conducted by the State of California.

To encourage a continuation of safety practices, a proactive safety reward system is in place.

Roebuck indicated that the practice of safety must never be rushed. The most important thing Bonfante Gardens does is to provide a safe experience for guests and employees.