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WASHINGTON — It’s still not clear why a spinning, swinging ride malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair, hurtling riders through the air, killing at least one and injuring seven others.
In the midst of summer carnival and fair season, Maryland and Virginia safety agencies say aggressive inspection programs are in place to minimize risk to riders.
Andy Cashman, general manager of the Maryland State Fair, said inspections are performed by Maryland Division of Labor and Industry.
“We have our own independent ride inspector who we hire,” Cashman said. “They make sure everything is working, and all day long, they’re pretty much just looking at the rides.”
Cashman said there is continuity in having the same agency inspect rides, regardless of whether they are permanent or movable.
“They do the amusement parks throughout the state — also they do all the carnivals and portable operations that move around,” Cashman said.
Cashman added that rides at carnivals and fairs are inspected more often than those at amusement parks.
“Whether it’s a firemen’s carnival, county fair, or state fair, they get inspected every time they move,” he said.
In Virginia, portable carnivals are inspected by the Department of Housing and Community Development, the agency that inspects permanent buildings, plumbing and electrical systems.
“We also have an additional inspector, who is there every day,” said Greg Hicks, vice president of communications with the Virginia Farm Bureau and The State Fair of Virginia.
Hicks said the same carnival operator, Deggeller Amusements, of Stuart, Florida, provides the rides to both the Maryland and Virginia state fairs.
“They’ve been involved with the Virginia State Fair for more than 20 years; they’re a great partner,” Hicks said.
In the District of Columbia, ride inspections are performed by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
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