On fair's eve, safety and food inspections begin - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

On fair's eve, safety and food inspections begin

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

You can find your happy at the South Carolina State Fair, but can you do it safely? Set up has been going on over the last week, but Monday and Tuesday are inspection days.

As the rides go up at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds, the inspections start.

"The ride cannot by law -- South Carolina law -- go into operation until it's been approved," said Gary Goodman, fair representative.

What you may not know is the rides get inspected not only by state inspectors, who look to see rides are mechanically sound and are set up to be operated within the manufacturer's specifications, but also by a third party inspection group for North American Midway's insurance.

"The inspection process doesn't end when the State Fair opens," said North American Midway General Manager Tony Diaz. "It is something that occurs each and every day and it may very well be occurring throughout the day as our safety teams roam the midway."

It's not just the rides, it's also the food stands. DHEC must grant a temporary-special event permit and does an inspection looking to make sure food is cooked and stored at a proper temperature. As vendors wiped down their stands, they tell us they also have safe practices.

"We don't do no refills. We don't bring nothing in. We don't want germs in. We don't want germs out," said vendor Richard Fiske.

DHEC tells us foodborne illnesses are very rare at these events. Most illnesses result from food being heated or cooled more than once, but most vendors cook and serve everything they prepare. Organizers encourage everyone to wash their hands, especially when in the animal barns.

"The parents of the children go into the barns and the parents come out and have the children wash their hands and then the parents don't wash their hands," said Goodman.

We know accidents can happen at the State Fair. In 2011, six were injured when a ride malfunctioned.  In 2010 a worker was electrocuted during the set up. A North American Midway worker was killed in 2008 working a ride at the fair, and a 10-year-old was injured in 2006 when he fell from a ride when the safety bar didn't lock.  All reasons why inspections are so important.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

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