Designing for Safety
Safety was at the forefront of this year’s IAAPA Expo Asia education conference, from both a global and individual attraction perspective.
During the session “Global Safety Standards Harmonization,” a panel of operations, manufacturing, and safety industry experts discussed the benefits of adopting globally mediated safety standards. Since 2003, IAAPA has worked on a global standards harmonization initiative with attractions industry leaders from around the world and standardizing bodies including ASTM International, CEN, ISO, and CSEI.
“If we learn from each other around the world, then we’ll actually prevent accidents from happening, instead of each country reacting to an accident within that country,” said Greg Hale, ICAE, vice president and chief safety officer, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, of the benefit of harmonizing the different standards. The harmonized standards also ensure operators and manufacturers are speaking the same language across nations, explained Zhaohu Liang, deputy director, amusement department of CSEI, the Chinese standardization organization. From the manufacturer’s perspective, harmonized standards help maintain consistency in ride design, explained Har W.A.B. Kupers, CEO of Vekoma. Manufacturers are better able to replicate safe rides if they don’t have to redesign for every market.
Hale encouraged using global standards rather than writing original safety standards on a facility-by-facility basis. He explained that very few countries actually write their own, but rather cite or adopt existing standards.
More ways individual facilities could create a safe atmosphere for team members and guests were discussed later in the session “Safety Innovations for Managing Your Attractions.” “When we talk about safety, we’re actually talking about how we design for safety,” said the session’s moderator Franceen Gonzales, executive vice president, business development, WhiteWater.
Designing with this intention begins with the baseline of a safety culture. “It’s a long game. It comes back to a proper education and everyone having a shared vision and objective. Making sure that everyone understands the value of safety and the role everyone plays,” said Brad Loxley, chief operating officer of Sun World in Vietnam. This can become complicated in different markets around the world depending on the country’s adoption of global standards. Village Roadshow Theme Parks uses the local standards as a baseline but follows international standards as well as its own in-house standards when developing its multinational attraction portfolio, according to Luke Riley, senior vice president, international development at the company. Leaning on knowledge gained from past incidents at other attractions can build a culture of safety that anticipates conditions that can cause safety issues. The culture should encourage team members to be aware that incidents can happen, rather than assuming a facility is safe because nothing has happened, said Loxley.
Claus Frimand, principal, Integrated Project Delivery Services, and founder of LEAZ International, also stressed the importance of having champions of safety at international locations—this might be a local manager tasked with being the minder and spokesperson for safe operations.
Whether starting a project from scratch or coming in as a contractor after it has begun, operations and creative must work together to incorporate safety into design. “Without that partnership, you will not succeed,” said Nolan Libero, assistant director, attractions operations, Universal Beijing Resort. In the excitement of an innovative attraction breaking onto the scene, it’s important to pause and ensure safe operations are in place, especially if this type of experience hasn’t been done before. In these situations, Riley encouraged only working with manufacturers that have a demonstrable capability in order to verify the activity in question is indeed doable and safe.
Touching on the recent addition of virtual reality to existing rides, Nolan advised considering the changes a novel attraction can cause to operations, such as staff and resources needed for headset collection and the changing ergonomics of the ride. He also encouraged keeping the manufacturer in the loop on any modifications intended to take place on an attraction before they actually happen.