BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — One of the big attractions at the county fair is the rides, and those rides get a lot of scrutiny. At the Kern County Fair, Butler Amusements brings in dozens of attractions.
Though there were two accidents at their rides at the local fair last year, the company said safety is its priority.
"Every time the ride's set up and torn down, it's inspected," Butler Amusements chief operations officer Lance Moyer told Eyewitness News. He said the company brings rides to some 40 fairs and events a year, and they have 62 of them at Kern's fair this year.
Moyer said the company also does a daily inspection of each ride 90 minutes before the midway opens.
"Every piece of equipment that holds the ride together, all the safety systems, all the manual and automatic systems are checked," he explained.
On Thursday, Eyewitness News watched as a technician went over equipment and parts of the Giant Wheel. Another worker checked the ramp that riders would use to walk up to the ride and looked over the hand rails. At the nearby Footloose ride, another worker could be seen checking each seat.
Moyer said the company isn't the only one keeping an eye on the attractions.
"We have state inspections by the state of California, we have insurance inspections, we have individual ride inspections from individual ride companies," Moyer ticked off.
Regulations by the state fall under the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Eyewitness News discovered its 2012 "portable amusement ride inspection activity report" shows seven accidents were investigated, and two of those happened at Butler rides at the Kern County Fair.
"It was a tough year," Moyer said. "And luckily, except for the smashed finger, nobody was injured seriously."
The state report shows both accidents in Bakersfield happened on the same day, Sept. 22, 2012.
One mishap was on the Evolution attraction.
"The patron's thumb on her left hand was crushed when the operator slammed the outside cage down while they were loading the ride," the report says.
Moyer said the "lap bar" was lowered onto the rider's hand. The state ordered Butler to update their training documents and the attraction's fact sheet.
"When you buy a ride from a manufacturer, they give you a list of everything to check and the training procedures," Moyer said. "Sometimes they are not current, which DOSH made us update those."
The other accident on the same day was at the Spin Out ride. State investigators said one of the ride's stabilizer "outriggers" was removed and wood blocking was used instead.
"The vibration of the ride, it caused the blocking to release," Moyer said. "Nobody was injured on the ride."
The state report says a patron standing on the ground was slightly injured when her right shoulder was hit by the platform.
The company was ordered to document staff training and replace "fasteners" throughout the ride. Moyer said Butler replaced all the bolts and pins holding the ride together.
"There will be some state inspectors here next week going through everything," Moyer said. "Checking our training, checking out our operation procedures."
He said all amusement park rides get that scrutiny.
"Safety is our No. 1 concern," Moyer said.
He said the company has hundreds of thousands of riders on their attractions every day.
"I have small children myself, my children come out here all summer long and ride the rides," he added. "I wouldn't put my children on them if I didn't think they're safe."