Protecting Human Health and the Environment at Amusement Parks

Amusement parks are establishments that group together and operate a variety of attractions, such as mechanical rides, amusement devices, refreshment stands, and picnic grounds. These parks offer entertainment for visitors of all ages. Kiddie parks, theme parks, and piers (amusement) also fall under this category.1 Amusement parks are exciting places where people can enjoy rides, games, and other attractions. However, beyond the thrill of roller coasters and indulging in funnel cakes, there’s a growing awareness of the need for environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) risk management and sustainability measures within the amusement park industry.

Amusement parks have many environmental aspects that need to be managed. These include air emissions resulting from combustion of fossil fuels for energy to operate the park; water use and wastewater generated from water attractions, operational equipment, and irrigation; and the waste generated from park goers and facility maintenance with amounts varying depending on the size of park. Let’s first explore how theme parks are addressing sustainability and environmental impact:

  1. Reducing Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
    • Universal Studios Hollywood is taking steps to reduce its energy footprint. The park has introduced electric trams for its Studio Tour, with plans to convert the entire fleet from diesel-hydraulic engines to zero-emission electric engines by 2025.2
    • The Walt Disney Company, with its multibillion-dollar theme parks worldwide, has implemented sustainability initiatives. By 2030, they aim to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions across their operations.3
    • Other parks are also exploring renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, to power their attractions.
  2. Composting and Recycling
    • Theme parks worldwide are going green by composting food scraps and recycling props. These efforts help divert waste from landfills and promote a more sustainable approach to waste management.
  3. Environmental Compliance Audits
    • To manage risks and ensure safety, theme parks conduct EH&S compliance audits, evaluating regulatory compliance under rules set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and local/state regulations.4
  4. Safety for Employees and Visitors
    • Amusement park ride safety is regulated by federal, state, and local laws and voluntary standards; parks have a legal responsibility to provide a safe environment for guests.5 Organizations such as the Global Association for the Attractions Industry (IAAPA) help the industry connect and share ideas and practices.6
    • Parks comply with regulations by conducting regular inspections and staff training as well as implementing proper emergency procedures, equipment repairs, preventative maintenance, and staging the correct warning signs. Workers face serious risks, especially when operating equipment prone to mechanical failure or when dealing with safety features on rides. Training and vigilance are crucial.
  5. ISO 14001 Certification
    • ISO 14001, which focuses on Environmental Management Systems, can help parks manage waste, reduce their carbon footprint, and demonstrate commitment to environmental responsibility.2

While the magic of amusement parks captivates visitors, behind the scenes, efforts are underway to ensure a brighter, more sustainable future for both the environment and parkgoers!

From the health and safety perspective, OSHA regulations apply to employees working at amusement parks, carnivals, and water parks. These standards aim to ensure workplace safety. Amusement and theme park workers face some of the highest injury, illness, and fatality rates in the industry. However, OSHA does not regulate the safety of the public visiting these facilities, nor does it track accidents related to park visitors.7

Amusement park workers play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and enjoyment of park visitors. Here are some key safety considerations for employees working in amusement parks:

  1. Training and Vigilance
    • Training: Amusement park workers should receive thorough training on emergency preparedness, lockout/tagout procedures, safe ride operation, and hazard recognition and reporting.8
    • Vigilance: Workers should actively monitor ride areas and promptly report any hazards or unsafe conditions.9
  2. Hazardous Situations
    • Mechanical Failure: Operating equipment prone to mechanical failure can pose risks. Regular maintenance and inspections are essential.
    • Safety Features: Workers need to identify when park visitors tamper with safety features on rides.
    • Entering Ride Areas: Employees should never enter ride areas while they are in operation.
    • Mobile vs. Fixed Rides: Safety standards vary based on whether the ride is mobile (e.g., traveling carnivals) or at a fixed site (e.g., theme parks like Six Flags).9
  3. Safety Measures
    • Warning Signs: Clear warning signs should indicate ride hazards and safety rules for visitors.
    • Safe Areas: Clearly marked safe areas allow operators to stand while rides are operating.
    • Regular Maintenance: Scheduled equipment maintenance helps prevent accidents.
    • Supervision: Workers should adhere to safety practices and promptly report violations or hazards to supervisors.9

With proper training, staying alert and following safety protocols, amusement park employees play a vital role in creating a fun and secure experience for everyone!9

For more information on how we can help your amusement park with EH&S compliance or sustainability measures, reach out to Monica Meyer or Amy Bauer today.


1 Description for 7996: Amusement Parks | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha.gov)
2 How theme parks are applying sustainable practices to their operations - The Points Guy
3 The Walt Disney Company Sets 2030 Environmental Goals - The Walt Disney Company
4 ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH & SAFETY COMPLIANCE AUDITS FOR WORLD-RENOWNED THEME PARKS - EHS Support (ehs-support.com)
5 Regulations – RidesDatabase
6 About IAAPA | IAAPA
7 OSHA regulations and accident investigation procedures pertaining to carnivals, amusement parks and water parks. | Occupational Safety and Health Administration
8 Amusement Park Hazards | OSHA Safety Manuals (safetymanualosha.com)
9 Hazards of Working in an Amusement Park (galfandberger.com)
Photo of Amy Bauer

Amy Bauer

Senior Compliance Specialist, CPEA
251-533-6949
amy.bauer@ehs-support.com

Monica Meyer

Senior Health & Safety Specialist
724-762-7951
monica.meyer@ehs-support.com

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