Midway crash report spurs new rules for rides

The province is tightening up safety rules for amusement park rides following the release of a new report into a crash at the Calgary Stampede.

The province is tightening up safety rules for amusement park rides following the release of a new report into a crash at the Calgary Stampede.

Ten people, mostly teenagers, were injured last July when one of the pods on a ride known as the Scorpion became detached about 10 metres in the air and crashed to the ground.

The ride features rotating pods at the end of long mechanical arms which rise and fall as the ride spins.

A report into the investigation released by the province on Thursday found that the incident could have been prevented if the owner followed the manufacturer's recommended inspection criteria.

Repair to ride 'poorly done,' says report

The report found that there was "minimal weld material" between parts. That was due to fatigue cracks that had developed prior to the ride's installation in Calgary.

Cracks had previously been found where the separation occurred, and while normal industry practice is to grind the cracks down and reweld the joint, the cracks were improperly repaired by just welding them over, the report said.

Ten people were hurt when one of a pod on a ride known as the Scorpion crashed to the ground during the Calgary Stampede. (CBC)
"The repair was so poorly done that the original crack still remained and portions of the crack extended beyond the end of the repair," the report said.

Manufacturers recommend owners inspect the rides for fatigue cracks, but that also wasn't done on the Scorpion ride. The accident happened two years after the weld repair was done, and the cracks that had developed could have been seen with the naked eye.

"Apparently, the owner's inspections subsequent to the weld repair did not look at the failure area very closely, if at all," the report said.

The Scorpion accident report was done by Anderson and Associates Consulting Engineers, an independent engineering firm, for Alberta Municipal Affairs.

New rules for ride operators

With the release of the report comes new rules from the province aimed at improving safety on amusement park rides.

"Amusement ride accidents are rare," said Municipal Affairs Minister Hector Goudreau in a press release.

"For more than 20 years, there have been no fatalities or life-threatening injuries related to amusement rides in Alberta. As summer midways gear up for the season, we made our stakeholders aware of the changes to limit the chance of an incident like this occurring in the future."

Under the new rules, owners will have to keep inspection reports on site from all jurisdictions a ride has operated in during the past five years. Owners will also have to complete an Alberta safety codes officer checklist for each ride.

If a problem is detected, the manufacturer of the ride has to evaluate the information and report its findings to both the owner and a safety codes officer. In the case of "metal fatique" the entire ride must be independently tested and then repaired. Older rides might require additional comprehensive testing.

At the time of the Scorpion mishap, the Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Rides Safety Association was tasked with inspecting rides every year, while ride operators were expected to check them every day.

Mike Williams, CEO of North American Midway, said the Scorpion was inspected the day of the mishap, as per regulations.