KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Schlitterbahn employee is speaking out about what she describes as a dangerous lack of training and oversight at the park, which could be placing the public at risk.
“The only inspections we’ve ever done is people riding down slides one time — `oh, it’s okay,'” she said she was told.
“You are good to go for the rest of the day now.”
The Kansas Department of Labor also regulates amusement park rides. In fact, state law allows state officials to conduct spot safety inspections, but the number of state employees in that department has been slashed by a third in recent years. The Schlitterbahn employee told FOX 4 she never saw a single state inspection in the multiple years she has worked there.
Kansas has a national reputation for providing minimal state oversight at amusement parks. FOX 4 Problem Solvers asked the Kansas Department of Labor for any inspection reports on the park, but we have yet to receive them.
Schlitterbahn is owned by Enterprize Management of Texas. Three years ago, another of its water parks in Texas (also called Schlitterbahn) was fined $96,000 by federal regulators after an employee died and another was critically injured while inspecting a wave machine. OSHA inspectors pointed to a lack of employee training and inadequate safety measures.
The fine was later reduced to $70,000. An OSHA spokesman told FOX 4 that OSHA has not received any complaints about Schlitterbahn in Kansas.
The anonymous Schlitterbahn employee said children as young as 10 (the age of the boy who died) should never have been allowed to ride the 168-foot water slide. She believes they don’t weigh enough to keep them safe inside the raft.
“There should be certain age limits for that extreme of a ride,” she said.
Kansas Senator David Haley (D-Kansas City) said it’s time to reassess Kansas regulations on amusement parks and determine whether they are strong enough to keep the public safe.