Monday, February 14, 2011

Singapore Parliament Passes Bill To Ensure Better Safety Standards For Amusement Park Rides

SINGAPORE : Parliament has passed a bill to ensure better safety standards of amusement park rides.

The new regulatory framework will also require operators to be more accountable for the routine maintenance of the ride.

Those found operating a ride illegally may also be fined up to S$200,000 and jailed up to two years.

Previously, permits for amusement rides were issued by police under a public entertainment licence.

Permanent attractions, such as the Luge at Sentosa, were subject to certain safety requirements.

But these rules did not apply to temporary carnival rides which could be potentially unsafe.

Instead, operators of these temporary rides only had to show that the equipment used was certified safe for use by a registered professional engineer. Other conditions they had to meet include keeping the ride within a barricaded area, and that there should not be an element of gambling or betting.

Authorities have said that with the development of large-scale theme parks like Universal Studios Singapore, it is time for a change.

Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education, said; "While law and order concerns are still valid, there should be greater emphasis in our regulatory approach to enhance public safety in amusement rides, especially when there are increasingly more complex and sophisticated rides.

"It is imperative to ensure that rides which are assessed to have a high risk profile are regulated based on a higher level of safety standards."

Under the bill, the risk profile will be determined by how high and how fast the ride can go. Rides will also have to be certified safe from a specialist engineer with experience in the field.

The Building and Construction Authority will take over from police as the lead agency.

And instead of one single licence, operators will have to apply for separate permits when the ride is installed, modified and ready for operation.

The bill also creates the position of a Commissioner who will have the power to cease the operation of a particular ride if unauthorised changes are made, or if operators do not comply with the terms of their permits. He can also order the dismantling of rides that are in dangerous condition.

There will also be clearer lines of accountability.

For instance, operators have to appoint a Ride Manager, to oversee day-to-day operations and routine maintenance.

There will also be a more detailed system of fines and penalties, depending on the type of offence and its severity, replacing the current demerit points system meted out by police.

The rules will kick in by June, but licences already issued will remain valid.

MediaCorp understands that the Battlestar Galactica at Universal Studios will go ahead with its planned re-opening on February 21.

Rides with existing licences will receive a six-month grace period after the implementation date, after which they will have to comply with certain key conditions in the bill, such as the appointment of a qualified Ride Manager and meeting the necessary fire safety and emergency rescue requirements laid out by the Singapore Civil Defense Force.

Source: MediaCorp


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