Horry County Fair rides inspected prior to opening

Fair worker discusses safety at the Horry County Fair

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Before the Horry County Fair begins Friday, Strates Shows as well as the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation are checking the rides to ensure they're safe for people to enjoy.

Robert Maxwell, an auditor with LLR, was on site Wednesday looking at rides, while a private inspector will also come through before the fair opens. There is no set amount of time for the inspection to occur.

"Each ride gets a very thorough inspection and an audit by LLR, so however long it takes," Maxwell said. "It could be a couple of days."

Maxwell checks the functionality of various safety features including lap bars and releases. He also has to look at the smaller details, such as the gates on the Zipper because they have expiration dates.

Rides at Strates Shows, which operates fairs all along the East Coast, are inspected annually and then daily during fairs to monitor the integrity of the rides from setup through tear down. Ride operators will come into work an hour before the fair opens each day to do an inspection and maintenance.

"We want to check all of our fasteners (to) make sure they're secure (and) make sure there's no corrosion," said Derrick Thompson, midway safety manager for Strates Shows.

Gloria Starks, with Strates Shows' loss prevention and safety department, said amusement park safety regulations are different for each state.

For example, in South Carolina, the fair needs to have rider responsibility signs posted.

Overall, Starks said the company's safety record is strong.

"We have everyday incidents where someone might trip and fall or trip up the steps or children are excited or they're not paying attention to what they're doing," Starks said. "A Band-Aid here, a Band-Aid there. That type of injury. Nothing major."

Riders can also protect themselves and those around them by obeying the rules, such as not bringing cell phones or bags on certain larger rides because they can very quickly turn into dangerous projectiles.

The Horry County Fair opens April 15 and runs until April 24.

Copyright 2016 WMBF news. All rights reserved.