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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Labor
Amusement Park and Fair Ride Safety

Issued: August 12, 2014
Link to full audit report 2013-S-73
Link to the 90-day response

To determine if the Department of Labor (Department) is adequately monitoring and enforcing safety conditions of amusement park and fair rides. The audit covered the period January 1, 2011 through May 14, 2014.

The Department is responsible for protecting the safety and health of workers and the public. As part of this role, its Industry Inspection Unit is responsible for inspecting rides at all amusement parks, fairs, and other venues located outside New York City. Each ride must be inspected at least once each year and may be inspected more often, usually each time it is set up. For the period January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2013, the Department issued over 5,000 ride permits and collected more than $530,000 in permit revenues. Records indicate that, during this three-year period, 42 Department staff made over 4,800 site visits to conduct inspections of rides across the State. In 2013 alone, Department staff performed more than 9,000 individual inspections on about 1,700 different rides. The results of each inspection are available online for public access.

Key Findings

  • Over the three-year period, there were 24 ride-related accidents or incidents reported, two of which resulted in fatalities. Department inspectors promptly responded to each situation, in many cases the same day.
  • Based on our audit and analysis, we are reasonably assured the Department's procedures are adequate to ensure that the rides offered at fixed-base amusement parks, the New York State Fair, and the many county fairs operated across the State are properly inspected and authorized before being placed into service.
  • Department officials consider temporary rides to be a higher safety risk than permanent structures and, though not required by law, make it a priority to inspect them each time they are assembled. Although our analysis did not identify specific problems, the transient and seasonal nature of events like local carnivals and bazaars poses a greater risk that all necessary inspections may not have been performed. As a result, our auditors will be conducting additional visits to these smaller events throughout the summer of 2014 to ensure timely inspections have been performed.
  • The Department's inspection database contains a vast amount of ride permit and safety information; however, managers are not able to use this data to perform even basic data analytics to evaluate trends and improve monitoring efforts.

Key Recommendation

  • Develop, in conjunction with the Office of Information Technology Services, a system that can be used to easily and readily store, access, and analyze relevant Unit information.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Department of Agriculture and Markets: Electronic Ticket Sales at the 2011 New York State Fair (2011-S-37)

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236