Inspecting the Inspectors: State not required to keep ride manuals

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — NBC4 continues our investigation Who’s Inspecting the Inspectors after demands for change from two brothers who know the ride industry inside out.

We promised you answers after the Bates brothers sounded the alarm about what they call a flaw in Ohio’s ride inspection program. They’re the biggest provider of portable rides in Ohio and one of the biggest manufacturers in the state. They said they’re shocked by what we found out.

We learned Ohio doesn’t require ride manuals on file. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the manuals are kept with the operator when the ride is in Ohio.

The Bates said to really know how a ride works and to do a proper inspection inspectors should have access to the manuals at all times. The ODA said the state doesn’t keep them.

“How can they inspect the ride safely, properly if they’re not trained by somebody or at least have paperwork on it?” said Eric Bates with Bates Brothers Amusement Co.

The Bates said ride manuals are roadmaps to every gear, switch, and light on a ride. They’re guides to know how to set-up, operate and troubleshoot the equipment.

In an email, ODA Communications Director Mark Bruce said, “ODA requires ride operators to keep the manuals, safety bulletins and other materials associated with the particular ride with the ride at all times it’s in Ohio. We do not require materials to be sent from manufacturers but do obtain them for reference and research purposes.”

Eric argues the inspectors should be studying these manuals well before the ride enters the state.

“They can’t know how the ride works because they don’t get the information,” he said.

The Bates said they’re speaking out because it’s their responsibility to try and prevent another tragedy.

“It’s a bad deal when I see the what’s going on it’s just not right it’s all I can tell you,” he said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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