An accident at the Greene County fair last year that injured three young girls has inspired the state to take extra measures that amusement rides are safe across the state.
In 2016, the three girls were injured when they fell more than forty feet from the Ferris wheel. As the fair reopens this year, they have a new ride operator and additional ride inspectors on hand to ensure the rides are safe.
Officials with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) have spread that effort to county fairs and amusement rides across Tennessee.
"Safety out here on the midway has been and will always be a top priority for the state,” Commissioner Burns Phillips explained. “We are constantly working to enhance our procedures in Nashville to make sure folks here in Greeneville, and at county fairs across the state, are safe when they come out for a night of fun with their families.”
New this year, Tennessee has safety compliance officers located in east, middle, and west Tennessee. They are currently looking for ride operators who may not be permitted in Tennessee. Next year, they will be certified to oversee the ride inspection process.
The state will also start issuing colored decals that ride operators will have to display on each ride. It will let fair-goes know that a device has met all the state's inspection requirements and insurance requirements.
“Now when a parent takes their child to the fair, they can look for Tennessee’s inspection decal and know that particular device is allowed to operate in the state, and it has met all the requirements of state law,” Commissioner Phillips said.
The Department has also created an online portal for all device inspection reports to be submitted and made a 24-hour accident hotline available for operators to report an incident, even if it's after hours or on weekends.
State Representative David Hawk is from Greeneville. He worked on legislation to increase safety requirement for amusement device operators in Tennessee.
He wants every family to feel safe bringing their children to the county fair, and gave the strongest recommendation he could about the Greene County Fair's safety this year.
"I will be bringing my daughters to the fair this week, to ride the rides and enjoy everything about this fair and to build those memories I had as a child, coming to the Greene County Fair all those years ago," he said.