Paper: Content analysis of 100 consecutive media reports of amusement ride accidents

Woodcock, K., 2008. Content analysis of 100 consecutive media reports of amusement ride accidents. Accident Analysis and Prevention 40, 89–96. Link

Accident investigations influence public perceptions and safety management strategies by determining the amount and type of information learned about the accident. To examine the factors considered in investigations, this study used a content analysis of 100 consecutive media reports of amusement ride accidents from an online media archive. Fatalities were overrepresented in the media dataset compared with U.S. national estimates. For analysis of reports, a modified “Haddon matrix” was developed using human-factors categories. This approach was useful to show differences between the proportions and types of factors considered in the different accident stages and between employee and rider accidents. Employee injury accounts primarily referred to the employee’s task and to the employee. Rider injury reports were primarily related to the ride device itself and rarely referred to the rider’s “task”, social influences, or the rider’s own actions, and only some reference to their characteristics. Qualitatively, it was evident that more human factors analysis is required to augment scant pre-failure information about the task, social environment, and the person, to make that information available for prevention of amusement ride accidents. By design, this study reflected information reported by the media. Future work will use the same techniques with official reports.

Author: Kathryn Woodcock

Dr. Kathryn Woodcock is Professor at Toronto's Ryerson University, teaching, researching, and consulting in the area of human factors engineering / ergonomics particularly applied to amusement rides and attractions (https://thrilllab.blog.ryerson.ca), and to broader occupational and public safety issues of performance, error, investigation and inspection, and to disability and accessibility.