by Heather M Eichenbaum Esq
Whether simply improving park employee performance, addressing issues raised by local or independent inspectors, or defending against a personal injury lawsuit, the value of industry certifications can be tremendous.
Certifications can be obtained from organisations such as NAARSO (National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials) or AIMS (Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers) and validate an employee’s knowledge and experience within the industry. For instance, a NAARSO certification, at levels I through III and with possible add-on certifications such as Supervisor and Instructor, requires successful testing results and years of experience, at increasing levels based on the level of certification to be obtained. Each level requires completion of annual continuing education credits, thereby ensuring a NAARSO certification is evidence of an ongoing commitment to safety. NAARSO certifications are available worldwide.
Of what value is a NAARSO or other similar certification to your park? First, it must be assumed that an employee with greater knowledge of safety and park maintenance and operations issues will be a more valuable employee. Their capabilities should increase as the level of knowledge increases. It is always beneficial for employees to attend courses that will refresh them on skills and safety efforts. Further, they can bring back the knowledge learned and share it with fellow employees. The result should certainly be a safer and more productive work environment.
Second, having industry-certified employees is beneficial if you operate in a venue where outside inspectors, whether government or independents working for an insurance company, inspect your park. Having employees thoroughly trained in ride mechanics, operations and safety concerns will allow for better communication with the inspectors, a more thorough understanding of the inspection process and where problems lie. An employee with such a certification should garner greater respect from the inspector, again resulting in a more productive and “smoother” relationship.
Finally, from a litigation perspective, industry certifications are invaluable. In addition to courses on ride mechanics and safety (such as ASTM, pneumatics, braking systems, hydraulic inspections and restraint systems), NAARSO courses include many on record keeping, giving testimony in litigation, incident reporting and other valuable information that can greatly benefit your park when in defence of a claim or lawsuit. Having a client familiar with the litigation process, and how to best prepare for it before the cause of action ever accrues, makes the job of defending your park easier and more likely to succeed.
Of course, the most valuable part of having industry-certified employees in litigation is that your counsel can use the certifications as evidence of (a) your employees’ level of knowledge and experience; and (b) your park’s commitment to safety and education within the industry. Nothing will refute a plaintiff’s attorney’s claim that you are ambivalent about patron safety better than showing that you send your employees to an outside, objective source for education and verification of his or her industry knowledge. This evidence can be invaluable in defending lawsuits.
Contact your national trade association to see what certifications may be available in your area.
Heather Eichenbaum is a Member with Spector Gadon & Rosen, located in Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Florida. Clients include Six Flags, Steel Pier, IRM, Holiday World and Reithoffer Shows. Heather can be reached at +1 215-241-8856 or firstname.lastname@example.org