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Feds ring up Six Flags Great America for $100K-plus in safety fines

2007-09-10

By Robert Niles: The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has hit Six Flags Great America, located north of Chicago in Gurnee, Ill., over 38 alleged safety violations. The agency recommened that the park be fined $117,700 for the violations, which range from improperly marked exits to damaged ladders to defective emergency brakes on an industrial truck.

There's more here and here.

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on September 10, 2007 at 10:08 PM
What???


I have a season pass here so I have been there often! I have never been hurt or seen anybody hurt at this park! I really do not understand the charges because I can't see one area that is like that except American Eagle which they had to change the line (though it looks temparary) for Wiggle Land.

From Joseph Boone on September 11, 2007 at 12:13 AM
My guess is that this won't be the end of the story. If OSHA had found nothing or only trivial violations, then I could see them moving on to other companies. But for the to hit Six Flags for a six figure fine at one location, it sure seems likely that inspectors will be scrutinizing the other Six Flags parks to see if they have similar issues. Time will tell, I suppose.
From Scott Galas on September 11, 2007 at 7:49 AM
OSHA is going to be concerned with the park's EMPLOYEE safety - not the park's guests.
Brakes on a truck are most likely a behind-the-scene vehicle. The ladder is probably something behind-the-scenes as well as the exits.
As for the $100K, hopefully they can get that amount reduced...
From Mike West on September 11, 2007 at 9:27 AM
That poor baby giraffe dying from smoke inhalation at Discovery Kingdom recently. Followed by this. I think 6 F might definately be under the magnifying glass already.
From Chris Cook on September 11, 2007 at 10:47 AM
Usually, OSHA investigations are sparked by employee reports. Given that 6F has been having financial difficulties, I think it's against their own interest for an employee to report this instead of working with park management to remedy the issues. Now, if they've attempted that and gotten unsatisfactory results, that's another issue.

I'd hate to see any more parks in the U.S. closing their doors. The reporting employee could be hurting himself/herself and coworkers. Stories about safety fines will get wildy exagerated as they spread through the public. By the time it gets to some people, I'm sure that it will be rumoured that people died on rides or something.

From Robert OGrosky on September 11, 2007 at 11:45 AM
Who says that if this was reported by a employee that he already made reports to management and they didnt take the corrective actions needed/required??

I hope SFGAM takes this seriously and fix's the problems noted, escepcially if some are repeat violations.

Being my home park I go at least 10-15 times a year and I have always thought the park was run in a safe manner, but we dont see what happens behind the scene's.

A heards up to OSHA, if you want to find unsafe park operations just travel down to Mt Olypmus and you will get writers cramp from all you find!!

From Scott Galas on September 11, 2007 at 12:12 PM
http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/551236,CST-NWS-sixflags11.article

Six Flags stung by $117,000 in proposed safety fines
RIDES OK | OSHA says violations put workers at risk

September 11, 2007
BY MAUREEN O'DONNELL Staff Reporter
Six Flags Great America has been hit with $117,000 in proposed federal fines for alleged workplace safety violations, which would be the biggest such penalty for any amusement park in the Six Flags chain.

The problems cited don't involve any rides. They allege safety issues that could jeopardize employees at the Gurnee park, said Scott Allen of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Six Flags received OSHA's inspection report Friday. "We've resolved several of the issues already and will continue to work with OSHA through their appeals office," Great America's Brooke Gabbert said Monday.

The findings "are specific to employee workplace areas, and they do not impact our guests,'' she said.
OSHA recommended a $27,700 fine for "repeat serious violations": blocked exit routes, poor housekeeping and defective truck brakes.

The agency also found 34 "serious" violations that netted a proposed $90,000 fine, Allen said. They included unsafe storage of flammable liquids; improperly covered sprinkler heads; poorly marked exits; exposed wood-and-metal-cutting equipment, and an eyewash station that didn't work.

"Employers must remain dedicated to keeping the workplace safe and healthful or face close scrutiny by this agency," said OSHA's Diane Turek.

"The safety of our employees and guests has always been our top priority and we invest the greatest amount of resources'' in safety, Gabbert said.

From Anthony Murphy on September 11, 2007 at 2:43 PM
The bizzareness of the story is that there were very little reports from SFGA on the news or anything like that. Granted, its not Disney or Universal, but it never seemed dangerous.
From Claudine Deshaies on September 11, 2007 at 3:55 PM
An employee calling OSHA is not the only thing that would cause all the scrutiny. The fact that the park has had previous accidents which injured and/or killed any employees would put Six Flags on a list of employers that they would keep an eye on anyway.
From E Rounds on September 11, 2007 at 5:33 PM
Aren't nearly all of those things fairly low-level janitorial-maintenance stuff employees are closely involved with? Don't improperly stored chemicals and covered sprinkler heads mean that janitors and groundskeeper don't have a clue? And if they don't have a clue, is it because they make $6.25/hour and don't care and they don't get canned because who else will do it for $6.25/hr, are poorly trained, or don't understand English because they're from Thailand?

Brakes - hmmm - those guys are probably making $11/hr, right? Is that enough for them to care? Is SFGAm just not buying replacement parts until they are past due? How much money could they have saved by doing it right the first time? Or is this like Ford deciding that lawsuits from exploding Pintos were cheaper than actually fixing the Pinto?

I relish this. SF needs to learn they can't cut everything in the budget back and expect to get away with it. The better news is they'll have to fix all the other parks before those get inspected too.

From Scott Galas on September 12, 2007 at 4:49 AM
E Rounds pointed out in the previous post that a "...person making $6.25/hour isn't enough to make a person care... or don't understand English because they're from Thailand?"
How ridiculous and ignorant - and should be ashamed!
What this shows is that the management and leadership of SF/GA is blatantly not training the employees or enforcing guidelines that should be in place.
Unlabeled chemicals are dangerous - blocked exits are unsafe - defective brakes in a truck, definately SERIOUS!!!!
This is definately not a case of a disgruntled employee calling OSHA - this is a case of OSHA coming onto their property and seeing these blatant violations again and again and again - that is why they were fined!
Read this line from the newspaper article again: "OSHA recommended a $27,700 fine for "repeat serious violations" and "The agency also found 34 "serious" violations." REPEAT and SERIOUS are two heavy-duty words!
Blaming the employees is wrong; they are not the only ones responsible for safety but a mere starting point.
From E Rounds on September 13, 2007 at 5:40 AM
That's not an exact quote, different sentences were combined and the training part of the primary sentence was conveniently removed. I hope I made it clear that it is a management issue, that management isn't willing to pay enough to hire people they know can do their jobs properly, isn't hiring people who speak English (or Spanish in some areas) to be able to understand the training, or train people properly in the first place. SF hires the cheapest bodies available, regardless of their skill set, commitment to their jobs, or even respect for or knowledge of basic safety standards to ensure the health of themselves and other employees.

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