Here are warning signs to identify safety concerns at amusement venues.
Story: Merilee Kern
Summer is a time of fun and family activities, and many families enjoy the rides and adventures offered at amusement parks. But these activities also come with a warning.
America’s children are needlessly suffering—and even dying—because of subpar safety standards at family entertainment venues across the board. This is evidenced, for one, by the reports on adolescent deaths, paralysis, and other catastrophic injuries at amusement and trampoline parks. But the problem is far more pervasive than that, as other types of family-oriented centers and activities are fraught with unacceptable facility flaws and inadequate policies, or a lack of suitable safety measures or policies altogether.
However, there is hope. There are those like Tim Murphy, chief executive officer of Rebounderz Family Entertainment Centers, who is on a mission to improve safety standards. This mission is not only within the trampoline park industry but with amusement/theme/activity parks, playgrounds, concert halls, and other family establishments.
As part of his goal to help keep children safe from needless injury and death, Tim is also advising parents how to better assess whether a facility has safety issues—identifying warning signs that parents should not only heed but also bring to management’s attention for the benefit of all patrons.
Here are Tim’s four red flags that a family entertainment venue needs to be vetted for safety shortcomings:
The No. 1 safety protocol starts with suitable management. Are managers properly trained? Is their attention on the facility, employees, and patrons or are they “in the back” somewhere? Is there evidence of safety checks and measures in public view? If the bathrooms are a mess, does this reflect on property equipment care and upkeep? If any of these are apparent issues, it’s a major red flag and perhaps the tip of the iceberg:
Lack of properly trained team members.
Floor staffers reflect the management’s training style, depth, and frequency. Insufficient training and experience on the grounds is problematic for everyone. One wrong or missed action by a team member could be detrimental to patrons or employees. Is the attraction led by trained staff members who are thoroughly engaged in all aspects of their posts? Are they appropriately managing patrons? Are they actively ensuring safety protocols? Are they demonstrating how to use equipment? Are they picking up litter or otherwise resolving problems and showing pride in their role? An absence of these qualities is a red flag that attentiveness is off.
Improper equipment and standards.
Is equipment clean, properly installed, and in good working condition? Do you see stains on equipment or floors, or rips, tears, and other obvious signs of wear and tear? Properly-run facilities do daily inspections of all equipment and attractions to ensure guests receive the best experience, keeping them safe. Ensuring there’s no question about what to do, or not to do, helps minimize the opportunity for injury and serves as a visual cue for the guest to follow to aid in preventing injury.
If the venue serves food, is the equipment (vending machines, counters, tables, ice cream machines, restrooms, etc.) clean and in good working order, and is a formal state inspection posted? If the location serves alcohol, is it properly licensed? Cleanliness, good equipment operation, and proper inspection signage provides an indication of how the facility, staff, and management are performing.
Improper facility and safety standards.
Rules should be displayed in the activity areas, at attractions, and in restrooms. If there is no signage, safety is a concern.
Also, are team members verbally instructing guests on how to use equipment, and intervening when that is not the case? Also, when applicable, are smaller children segregated from teenagers and adults, which helps prevent injuries to younger guests? Do employee uniforms differentiate team members from guests? This allows all guests to know who is in control of the facility and who to talk to. Are first-aid kits (including defibrillators) available? Team member headsets and PA systems also help facilitate a safe and properly supervised environment.
Exacerbating unresolved safety concerns are the operational debacles that are equally avoidable. These often include:
- Small problems going unreported by staff and/or patrons.
- Equipment and condition problems going unnoticed or unattended.
- Deficiencies showing up in audits and inspections not being addressed.
- Safety is never completely under control because people are never under complete control.
- Less time taken during pre-shift checks.
- Fewer people participating in safety meetings and ongoing education/training sessions.
- Company and its leaders spending less time being proactive about safety.
- Safety performance “flatlines”—even when the line goes through zero.
“Ultimately, ongoing formal and informal inspections, staff and management training, safety videos, ongoing personnel evaluations, and other safeguards are absolutely fundamental measures that can help a facility quickly identify and rectify structural and policy issues, and ensure employees are aptly educated for the type of venue at hand,” Tim says. “Not only will this mitigate the chance of injury, but also help owners avoid expensive liability lawsuits.”
About the writer →Merilee Kern is a communications strategist, and branding, business, and entrepreneurship pundit. As the executive editor and producer of the Luxe List International News Syndicate, she’s a consumer product trends expert and travel industry voice. Visit theluxelist.com.