Disneyland machinist critically injured at Space Mountain ride

“A machinist for Disneyland was critically hurt earlier this month in an accident at the theme park’s Space Mountain ride,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the L.A. Times:

Details of the incident were still unclear.

Suzi Brown of the Disneyland Resort said the ride did not malfunction and that “it was cleared for normal operation.”

The Oct. 3 accident occurred as the machinist was testing a vehicle on the popular high-speed ride, said Patricia Ortiz, a California Division of Occupational Safety and Health spokeswoman.

Here are a few more details about the accident, courtesy of the O.C. Register:

Anaheim Fire Department personnel responded to the park at 9:43 p.m. and transported the employee to the hospital, said Maria Sabol, a department spokeswoman.

One thing I learned while working at Disneyland’s safety department was that they don’t use a traditional Lock Out Tag Out system, in which you would de-energize a system prior to working on it.  I found a website that explains the system they do use rather well.  Here is an excerpt:

I was on the Indiana Jones ride recently when the entire ride shut down. The car I was in stopped just before entering one of the doors. Flood lights were immediately turned on and cast members grabbed step-stools and ran into the attraction to begin evacuating guests. I looked to the left and saw an interesting system for tracking the cast members who entered the ride. There is a large board with approximately 50 metal looking tags (about 4 x6 inches each). Each tag had a number on it and was hanging on a hook. As each cast member prepared to enter the ride, they took a certain tag/number and used chalk to write their name and the time (I believe) in the space where the tag hangs. There was a sign above the tag board which basically warned cast members that entering the attraction without a tag would be reason for dismissal. Of course, the entire board was designed to fit quite well with the theme of the attraction. Those of us who were removed from the ride were taken through a passageway where we waited to re-board the ride. After about a 1/2 hour, they decided the ride wouldn’t be operating again for at least an hour and a 1/2 and gave every party a ticket to bypass the line at Indiana Jones or any other ride on that day only. I was on my way home at the time, so the cast member was kind enough to leave the date line blank so I can use it on my next visit.

If you read through Disneyland’s and Disneyworld’s history of accidents you will see that employees are quite often injured under such circumstances and are also often exposed to falls, without protection.

In fact federal OSHA investigators “cited Walt Disney World for safety violations following a probe into the death of a resort mechanic that was killed while working on an Animal Kingdom roller coaster in 2011. Disney was fined $69,000. The company has not said whether it will challenge the report,” according to the Coaster Buzz blog.

Both Disney parks have huge safety departments so what gives?  The truth is that the engineers and the entertainment managers often override the safety personnel’s recommendations.  And the parks tend to design their systems to meet the minimum OSHA standards.  They don’t, generally, even try to exceed them.

Our best wishes are extended to the latest injured employee.

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