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OK Dept. of Labor starts fair ride inspections

Posted at 6:49 PM, Sep 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-16 19:49:12-04

Fair season is here in Oklahoma and the state Department of Labor is busy inspecting carnival rides.

In Oklahoma City on Wednesday, six state inspectors looked over 75 rides before the Oklahoma State Fair begins Thursday. It was a scene similar to what will play out in the days leading up to the Tulsa State Fair, which begins October 1. 

On Wednesday afternoon ride operators in Oklahoma City hammered into place the last pieces of equipment, as they turned on rides for inspections. Ride operators and inspectors said they are focused on passenger safety and will remain focused on safety until the fair ends.

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"In addition to a pre-opening inspection, every ride has a safety checklist specific to that ride that has to be filled out each and every day," said Frank Zaitshik, president of Wade Shows, the carnival ride provider for the Oklahoma State Fair.

State inspectors looked over every single ride at the fairgrounds and also went over emergency procedures and scenarios.

"What the procedures would be if the ride was to stop, how they would bring the ride back to its neutral position and bring it down," senior ride inspector Randy McGinnis said.

Even though many of the carnival rides are decorated with recent inspection stickers from other states, every ride must pass inspections here in Oklahoma before fairgoers can get strapped in.

"It is one of the few states that inspect rides every single time that they're set up," Zaitshik said when asked about Oklahoma's safety standards.

Once the Oklahoma State Fair ends, inspectors will head to Tulsa to check rides starting on September 28.

If a ride fails inspection, the state won't allow it to open before a list of concerns is addressed.

"Contacting the manufacturer, getting some specs on how to fix it and then once it is corrected and repaired our inspectors will go back in," Oklahoma Acting Labor Commissioner Stacy Bonner said. 

Workers at the Oklahoma State Fair said they're not only focused on keeping riders safe, but also their crews.

On Saturday a man working on the Skyride in Tulsa died following a tragic accident. 

Zaitshik said it would be inappropriate to discuss the accident in Tulsa, but did add that workers with Wade Shows follow strict safety procedures.

"We practice hard hat, fall protection and all OSHA recommended requirements," he said. 

Tulsa State Fair staff said the Skyride is scheduled to be inspected prior to the fair and if it passes tests it will be running this year. 

The Oklahoma State Fair runs from September 17 - 27. 

The Tulsa State Fair runs from October 1 - 11.