Each year, millions of fair and carnival-goers across the country look forward to sampling the snacks at concession stands and stepping onto attractions and rides. While fun is top of mind, safety is a critical concern with these temporary events—especially given the logistical challenges of carnival and amusement park training.
Injuries are not nearly as common as you might think, thanks to rigorous training regulations. The Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA) estimates that in 2004 there were eight ride-related injuries per one million riders. And based on past numbers from the Consumer Protection and Safety Commission, only 0.8% of injuries are serious enough to require overnight hospitalization. Moreover, 60% of injuries occur from rider behavior rather than operator error.
The reason for these low numbers? Many states adhere to the operator and maintenance training guidelines set by national amusement park organizations that take employee education very seriously. Staff preparation is key to minimizing risk for employees and patrons. However, due to the nature of certain types of amusement businesses, such as mobile ones, training employees isn’t always a simple task.
The challenges of traditional carnival and amusement park training
Training staff on best safety practices is of the utmost importance for amusement parks. But carnivals and amusement parks face unique challenges that make it difficult to get staff trained in time in the usual in-person, on-site format.
Timing: Training all employees before the peak season begins is ideal to ensure safe and efficient operations. However, carnivals and mobile amusement businesses often hire workers from outside of the area. Most rely on staff from other countries using an H-2B visa. The process of securing H-2B employees can be unpredictable, so in-person training before the start of the season may not be an option.
Lack of training space: For mobile amusement businesses, finding a dedicated space to conduct in-person training sessions can be problematic. A common way to solve this problem is renting out a local space, but this solution adds an additional expense to the training process.
Expenses: Many costs can arise with in-person training, such as materials, labor costs for the training administrator, and fees for a dedicated training space. These costs can become unmanageable if additional training sessions are needed when new employees are hired.
Also read: Amusement H-2B Visas and Labor Shortage
How online training platforms work
Thanks to the internet, what was once only possible face-to-face is now easily accomplished virtually. Online learning and training are just one example, and some platforms specifically offer carnival and amusement park training. These programs address many of the challenges outlined above. They can be done without a dedicated space and cost less than in-person training. Importantly, timing and access aren’t an issue with online training.
VOLT is a cloud-based training platform developed by the OABA in partnership with McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance. Featured courses are a combination of videos and presentations that can be completed on any device at any time. The content can be administered in a group setting or individually and cover the same content as traditional in-person sessions.
The VOLT platform houses more than forty training videos, and dozens more will be added this year. Many of these courses count toward National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. Courses are available for foundational federally mandated training and subsequent certification maintenance.
How VOLT works:
- Administrators create user accounts and assign courses to employees. They can choose from categories like OSHA and NAARSO certification courses, customer service, food and game concessions safety, and ride and workplace safety.
- Employees watch the required materials and must pass a 10-question quiz with at least an 80% score.
- Administrators can track milestones and growth, log certifications, and monitor course completion rates.
Costs for VOLT are almost half that of other industry online platforms and are free to OABA members. NAARSO accredited courses are available to all VOLT users for free. Course completions will count toward NAARSO credits and OSHA requirements for an additional fee. Many of the trainings are available in Spanish, and more will be added this year.
Because every fair or carnival operates differently, VOLT is flexible. This year, Fiesta Shows collaborated with OABA to develop custom learning paths consisting of five courses for weekly completion. They also developed an offline process for delivering VOLT training in a group setting.
Also read: Why Developing an Effective Employee Training Program is Beneficial for Fairs and Carnivals
What to look for in a carnival and amusement park training platform
Online platforms are an excellent option for carnival and amusement park training. However, the various platforms vary in quality and the features available. While cost-effectiveness is a factor for many businesses that choose online training, ask a few key questions to ensure the program you select best fits your needs.
- Do the offered courses count toward state and federally mandated requirements? Look for approval from credible associations like OABA and NAARSO.
- Is the platform versatile and updated frequently? Market needs evolve, and a training platform should add new courses regularly to respond, ideally in multiple languages. 24/7 employee access from all devices may be important for your staff.
- Who develops the content? Look for industry experts. VOLT is a partnership between OABA and McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance, a 50-year industry veteran.
VOLT is just one of the resources McGowan offers to better serve our customers in amusement and entertainment. Our experienced program underwriters are available to discuss these resources and our customizable insurance products.