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Steps to avoid or reduce the risk from water slide equipment

Steps to avoid or reduce the risk from water slide equipment

What are the reasonable steps an operator of a water park, health club or activity park can take to avoid or reduce the risk of customer injury? What are the practices that will appear careless or unreasonable in the harsh light of a courtroom? What actions will demonstrate to a jury that the operator cares about injury to its customers, has taken reasonable steps to avoid or minimize the risk of injury, and should not be blamed when a customer is injured? The following best practices can help water park operators avoid liability:

Training, training, training! Nothing looks worse to a jury than a young, inexperienced, seasonally employed ride operator or lifeguard who has received little to no training in getting customers ready to ride, recognizing problems, and taking action when problems arise. Even worse is someone who has learned his or her job from watching another casually trained, inexperienced employee. All employees should be trained at the beginning of their employment in the safe operating procedures for all activities that can cause injury.

Particular attention should be paid to the activity to which they are assigned, including procedures for dealing with problems with rides or customers, and what to do when injury occurs. Hiring an outside company certified in the safe operation of recreational water slide equipment at the start of seasonal staff training reinforces the impression that an operator is responsible and safety-conscious. It also avoids an argument that the operator is not qualified (by credentials, training or experience) to train its staff in safety procedures.

Check and double-check. It looks good when a supervisor, manager or loss prevention employee periodically monitors operations, both to ensure that personnel are doing what they have been trained to do, such as making sure customers are the proper weight, height and age, wearing appropriate footwear, and correctly positioned on the attraction, and are not doing what they should not be doing, like texting or checking social media. While there is no hard and fast rule on how often a supervisor should do a walk-around, once a season is not nearly enough. Indeed, several times a week is preferable. Periodic monitoring also reinforces training and informs management about what messages are not getting through.

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