Safety and compliance are important in all businesses and we’ve adopted many different programs to educate our staff and comply with regulations for operations in Ohio and other states where required of our operations.
In Ohio, compliance is, unfortunately, costly but requires physical inspections annually be completed by UltraSound special events Inc. Compliance cost are regularly figured into cost of doing business and in Ohio have continue to increase to be over $12,000 in 2017. The Ohio Department of Agriculture is responsible for licensing and inspection of inflatable amusement rides.
Other compliance programs that UltraSound Special Events staff participate with are much less expensive and more education based. To provide an example, five (5) UltraSound management staff members are also licensed amusement ride inspectors in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. With the certifications. they are required to attend ongoing risk management and ride safety training to achieve 24 hours of continuing education training within every 3 years.
Because the company produces events in both Ohio and PA, compliance with both is important and it’s reassuring that working in PA is a bit more affordable and is more education than fee based. The fee based structure for funding the program in Pennsylvania is $50 per employee and includes the testing. The employee is then required the attendance at Risk Management training that also only total $299 per person. Ohio, unfortunately, does not offer formal safety training with the fee structure.
An issue brought up with Ohio officials by several Ohio based companies is the cost of compliance and comparison of licensing and inspection costs associated with large theme parks and small businesses. An example is a large mechanical amusement towering over 300’, mechanically driven, with capacity for carrying over 64 passengers is only charged an inspection fee of $310 and a small bounce house with a capacity of 4-6 children is charged $255. The time required for inspection of these type units is drastically different although the fee structure is very similar. Depending on the number of units in a rental inventory, the cost of inspection and compliance for a small business is more than that of the larger million dollar amusement parks.
UltraSound Special Events inc. representative, Kevin Wieging, is also a member of ASTM and assisted in revision of voluntary safety standards that were reviewed over the last 2 years and set to be published later in 2017. ASTM is recognized as industry standards and developed by consensus from many area professionals voting after research and development of best practices are balloted and approved. Standards had been in place and were simply increased to address developments within the industry and maintaining the best safety standards.
Ironically, many States do not require inspections and include the Ohio bordering States of Indiana and Michigan. Kentucky has a similar inspection program but has established an affordable fee of $50 for inflatable for an annual inspection. Safety is important and we have adopted many programs to be sure we continue to develop the best practices. ASTM, by far, produces the best standards because of the involvement of industry professionals within the organization.
With increasing compliance fees on Ohio inflatable industry owners, business owners are looking for solutions for maintaining both safety and competitive fees. Insurance costs also influence pricing and the effectiveness of our risk management and safe operations are the core for all successful businesses in creating smiles for families. We realize that rates need to be affordable for our clients. Small businesses are working on drafting the necessary paperwork and creating the Ohio Inflatable Operators Association (OIOA) to work with Ohio government and develop programs we feel are important for safety members of the inflatable industry looking for solutions.
The business side of inflatables doesn’t seem very exciting to most, but with new developments and ongoing innovation, 2017 will continue to evolve and provide excitement and fun for patrons.