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Zipline Inspections Unneeded and Costly, Higa Says

Posted October 11, 2012, 04:55 PM HST Updated October 15, 2012, 11:19 AM HST
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Hawaii’s auditor has issued a report critical of a plan to regulate the state’s zipline operators, saying they are “basically self-regulating,” and it would cost the state up to $400,000 to establish an inspection and permitting system.

The report from State Auditor Marion Higa is the result of a resolution passed during the past session requesting that her office analyze legislation proposing to require annual inspections of ziplines by state elevator inspectors or private inspectors certified by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

The proposed bill was prompted in part by the death of one worker and injury of another in September 2011 on a zipline north of Hilo.

Higa’s report said that despite that death and the risks inherent in thrill rides, she found “insufficient data of serious harm to the public to warrant regulation.”

The report said the 22 zipline businesses operating in Hawaii are already required by their insurers to provide annual inspection reports by insurer-accredited companies. Funding of a state-managed regulation system would require charging each operator an initial licensing fee of $18,000 and annual fees of $15,000 each, it said.

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The bill tabled during the past session proposed assessing operators a $100 annual fee.

Of the 11 states that regulate zipline operations, only one – Florida – currently carries out inspections. The others issue permits based on submitted paperwork, Higa’s report said.

Higa said that the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations already has a “massive” backlog of elevator inspections and is currently unable to inspect amusement rides as mandated.

If a state law was enacted to require inspections without giving the DLIR sufficient additional resources that could create a “false sense of security” for the public and raise the potential for legal liability to the state, Higa said.

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