10/01/04 — Labor secretary visits Wayne to introduce ride program

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Labor secretary visits Wayne to introduce ride program

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on October 1, 2004 1:59 PM

Protecting children from potential accidents while on rides at North Carolina's county fairs is the goal of a new program instituted by the state Department of Labor.

"North Carolina has never had a fatality involving a rider," said Cherie K. Berry, commissioner. "We intend to be proactive and make sure we keep that great safety record going."

Ms. Berry and department inspectors visited the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair on Thursday to introduce the new fair safety program. She presented Milton Ingram, fair manager, with a certificate of participation in the program. The rides were inspected before the fair opened at 4 p.m. She said North Carolina is the only state in the country with this program. Forty-seven county fairs will receive a certificate.

"Fair operators have been great to work with," she said. "They've been going all out to help us make this a very safe fair season."

Several thousand students in Wayne County received a bookmark from the Labor Department with safety tips about riding. They were encouraged to have them signed by their parents. The children can bring the bookmarks to the middle of the fair's carnival and receive a free gift, said Ingram.

Some of the safety tips are as follows: If children have long hair, they should keep it tied in the back when they ride; parents need to make sure they keep an eye on their children and obey the height guidelines for them; and safety harnesses must be locked in place before the ride starts, said Ms. Berry.

The department's inspectors are responsible for the ride safety inspections at all county fairs in the state. Labor officials have been considering a rider safety program for some time after accidents in other states drew their attention, she said. Usually accidents happen because of rider error.

She said North Carolina's ride inspectors are the best in the country. They have all of their safety manuals on computer and know immediately if a safety bulletin has been instituted on a ride. They also have a program in place where they know if rides coming from out of state have had any safety problems.

She said that in North Carolina all of the rides must be 100 percent safe before the fair can open.