Case Study on Standards: Amusement Rides
As part of its 125th anniversary celebration, ASTM International invited case study submissions from committee members around the world, highlighting standards that have made a significant impact in society – and that have bettered the world around us. Numerous exceptional submissions were received, making the work of ASTM’s panel of judges even more difficult in narrowing down the list to eight winners.
Standardization News is publishing all eight winning entries in 2023. We continue the series with a standard from the committee on amusement rides and devices (F24): Standard practice for ownership, operation, maintenance, and inspection of amusement rides and devices (F770).
Identify the need for the development of this standard: What problem was this standard trying to solve? Who initiated the development of the standard?
First published in 1982, this standard was developed to create a consistent standard and a unified level of safety, originally in the United States and now around the world, for the owners and operators of amusement rides and devices in amusement parks, theme parks, traveling shows, and by independent organizations.
Identify the interest groups that participated in the development and/or revision to the standard.
Over the past 40 years, experts from numerous disciplines throughout the amusement industry have contributed to the development of F770. Today, over 800 industry professionals from 30 different countries are members of the committee on amusement rides and devices (F24). From designers, engineers, and manufacturers; to owners, operators, end users, and regulators; to safety advocates and academics; many groups have provided valuable input and feedback on the language in the standard. “Thanks to the hard work of designers, engineers, operators, owners, and others, amusement rides have become both more exciting and safer over the years.” (1)
While the work of F24 and specifically this standard continues year-round, meetings are held each February and October to allow experts to meet and work on the improvement of F770 face to face. This provides opportunities for the members to focus attention on subcommittee actions related to prior and future balloted language, and to collaborate among the larger committee membership.
These twice-annual events garner upwards of 30% committee attendance and allow recent incidents in the industry to be discussed and addressed. “Reaction time is a key strength of the committee. When new knowledge is acquired, a standard can often be modified to include that knowledge in less than a year.” (1) This process will continue into the future, as the F770 task group values the perspective of every facet of the industry for any future revisions to the standard.
How is this standard commonly used by industry?
This standard is considered a “core” standard in the committee on amusement rides and devices. It forms the foundation and framework of owner/operator programs across a range of businesses, from multinational corporations to local family-owned businesses around the world. It addresses all primary functions, responsibilities, and activities necessary to set up and maintain a park operation that complies with the safety standards promulgated by F24 for all aspects of amusement rides and devices. As a result, any other standard with requirements that pertain to the owner/operator of an amusement ride or device point to this standard, and any jurisdiction that adopts or references F24 standards as a whole or F770 in particular will require compliance by applicable owner/operators.
Depending on the level of adoption, either as required by regulation or via voluntary implementation, compliance with the standard includes how an amusement ride or device is operated, inspected, or maintained, as well as how the training for each of those disciplines is conducted – and the need to maintain documentation of those actions. There are also sections in this standard regarding the information that is required to be transferred when an amusement ride or device is sold, how the industry expects patrons to behave as a guest on an amusement ride or device, and the classification of injuries and illnesses as they relate to amusement rides and devices.
How has the standard impacted health and safety?
Harold Hudson, a founding member of the committee, noted that the advent of a formalized, voluntary standards-development process designed to ensure consensus among the many stakeholders was a game-changer. “Many of the early standards had tremendous impact on the industry because suddenly there was a bar to be met,” he said. “The effect was that overall safety throughout the industry was improved. The parks had a reference for what they needed to do – that is, there was an industry standard.” (1)
While it is difficult to measure the impact of a standard in comparison to what may have happened without it (the preparedness paradox), one can be confident that the use of F770 has provided a safer and healthier environment for patrons and guests of amusement rides and devices. There is a clear trend in North America of a significant reduction in injuries at fixed-site rides.1 Injuries are down from 7.0 per million attendance in 2003 to 3.7 injuries per million attendance in 2021. This is a 47% reduction in injuries just at fixed rides in North America. It is safe to say a similar trend can likely be applied to mobile rides in North America as well as fixed and mobile rides in international countries where F24 standards, including F770, are adopted.
How do consumers and the public benefit from this standard?
The work on this standard brings normally fierce competitors to the table, where a focus on safety is shared by all and allows for a free exchange of information. While the number and types of attractions are diverse, there exists a basic formula for operating safely. The standard requires each owner/operator to train, operate, inspect, and maintain each amusement ride or device based upon a number of information sources, one of the foremost being the designer/engineer’s and manufacturer’s supplied documentation. The subcommittee on operation (F24.40), which is responsible for this standard, has also had a strong hand in ensuring the precursor design, engineering, and manufacturing standards to produce the information that the owner/operators consume and apply under the standard.
North America has the greatest adoption of F24 standards (and this standard), and its foray into the broader international community is relatively recent. As a result, there is more data for amusement rides and devices based in North America than in other parts of the world. The total number of reported injuries in 2021 was 1,281, an estimated 3.7 per million attendance, which is down from 2,044 in 2003, an estimated 7.0 per million attendance (2). These examples are using attendance-based data, but ridership-based data shows a similar trend.
Can you provide any data to support the safety, economic or other impacts of the standard? If yes, please summarize the data and provide citations.
The amusement industry has a high visibility in the media, especially in the unfortunate circumstance of a serious incident. The adoption and use of this standard has helped reduce the number and average severity of these mishaps. As a result, there is a reduction in the time lost and economic impact for the guest subjected to injury, the impact to park operations due to adverse safety-related media, and the insurance- and defense-related financial liability for all companies potentially involved is diminished.
This financial incentive is real to the businesses involved, but the more significant driver may be ethics. Employees of companies involved are unlikely to remain at a company not taking public safety seriously.
Are you aware of any regulatory adoption (domestic or international) or broad international use of the standard? If yes, please provide details.
F24 standards, including F770, have been widely adopted throughout the U.S. by state, regional, and local jurisdictions. More than 40 states call them out in general and many specifically point to this standard in their amusement-ride regulations. In other areas of the country, individual counties utilize this standard: Clark Country Nevada, which regulates amusement rides and devices for Las Vegas, is one example. Even in areas where the state and local agencies do not point to this committee or standard, many insurance carriers for amusement rides and devices require compliance with the standard.
From an international perspective, more than 14 countries have reported the use and adoption of F770 in regulations and park operations. In addition, individual park operators like Disney, Universal Parks and Resorts, Six Flags, SeaWorld, Herschend Family Entertainment, and others require the use of the standard as a minimum practice for operations in each of their facilities, both domestic and international.
Does this standard address any of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?
SDG 3: Good Health and Well Being. This standard is linked to the health and safety of all patrons and guests of amusement rides and devices, as the amusement industry strives to provide healthy and safe amusement and entertainment for the general public of all ages.
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. The amusement industry is a major driver of economic growth in many markets and a strong contributor to productive employment and sustainable tourism throughout much of North America and many parts of the world. The standard works to reduce life- and health-related incidents and helps provide a safe place for patrons to enjoy with friends and family. Facilities also endeavor to provide easy access to attractions for each individual without prejudice provided they meet necessary safety restrictions.
Please provide any additional information here.
Many amusement industry organizations base their operations on this standard and audit compliance on a regular basis, utilizing both internal auditors as well as third-party auditing companies.
Education sessions on ASTM International, F24 standards, and F770 are topics that are always well attended at the annual industry safety seminars offered by the Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers (AIMS International); National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO); and other education and certificate organizations. Some of these organizations also provide numerous educational outreach opportunities around the world each year, at which this standard is a key topic.
The largest amusement industry trade organization, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) has been a long-time supporter and active proponent for the use of F770 and other committee standards. The IAAPA and ASTM have partnered on several occasions to meet with jurisdictional leaders throughout the world to encourage adoption of F24 standards, urging countries to make amusement-industry safety a top priority as more amusement rides and devices continue to be built and operated.
ASTM also has professional liaisons with the European Standards Committee (EN) and the International Organization for Standardization Committee (ISO) for harmonization of standards in regions where the committee standards have yet to be adopted in a consistent manner. ■
To join F24, contact Katerina Koperna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Maxwell, Jack, “The Evolution of Amusement Ride Standards.” Standardization News (Mar/Apr 2018).
2. National Safety Council. (2022). North America Fixed Site Amusement Ride Injury Survey, 2021 Update.