Funfair Safety In The United Kingdom

By: jarm69

If you visit the following link,, you will see an in depth report written by the experts at the Health and Safety executive, they are charged with inspecting and ensuring the whole industry is operated as safely as possible. The report contains a lot of detailed formulas and such like and makes for quite heavy reading, but 3 facts stand out clearly.

1 A pessimistic estimate (H&SE description) of the chances of being killed or seriously injured on a funfair ride is 1 in 83 million.

2 You are 12 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on your way to the fair, than you are once you arrive there.

3 Statistically there is a greater chance of being struck by lightning than there is of being killed on a fairground ride.

These aren't facts that have been cooked up to present the industry in a good light, they are the official figures given by a government department.

It might help to explain the process behind the scenes of a typical fairground ride in the United Kingdom. Any new ride has to be given a design review, this is akin to the type approval system operated by car manufacturers, every part of the finished design must be checked against the original engineering drawings, structural components, electrics, materials must all match the specification laid down by the design engineers. Once this design review is complete, an initial test is caried out, the ride is checked by an independant engineer who will check the ride operates correctly, the safety systems operate as they should, the electrics have the required earths and circuit breakers fitted and so on. If the ride fails this it is given an immediate stop order and cannot operate until it has been brought up to standard and re tested.

This initial test is carried out on an annual basis, with a safety certificate being granted for a 12 month period everytime it passes. These annual inspection will include non destructive crack testing to catch indications of metal fatigue, as well as a full electrical and mechanical safety check. Once the annual certificate is granted, it doesnt stop there, each ride has a daily check book attached to it, there is a rigorous inspection list that must be checked every day before the ride is operated, with any repairs or points of concern being listed in the book along with remedial action taken by the operator. This results in an audit trail being present for every item of equipment.

All of these procedures are overseen by the industry trade body, The Showmen's Guild of Great Britain. They require proof of these safety certificates along with public liability insurance before any member is allowed to operate at a funfair in the U.K. There are a very small number of operators who do not belong to this organisation, but the vast majority of funfairs you visit will fall under their auspices. A few year ago following an accident with a funfair ride, the Showmen's Guild along with the Health and Safety executive cast doubt on the ability of a particular independant engineer, immediately the Showmen's Guild prevented any item of equipment being operated that had been inspected by this man, and they commenced a full re test of everything to ensure the safety of the public.

The only aspect of safety that the industry cannot control is the actions of members of the public. No matter how safe a ride is and how well it has been maintained, someone deciding to lark about not only places themselves, but those around them in danger. In an attempt to remedy this, operators are now trained to look out for members of the public misbehaving, or under the influence of drink or drugs, and if there is any doubt as to their conduct, they would be removed from the ride and in extreme cases from the fairground.

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The Author Jason Moody is a 5th generation showman, who specialises in supplying funfair rides and games for corporate events, weddings and parties.

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