Adventure park inspections in Tennessee will now have to be conducted by firms with no ties to the company operating the park. Officials in Tennessee recently amended the state’s adventure park inspection protocol after a fatal fall In July at Ijams Canopy Experience in Knoxville.
Ijams was issued its annual operating permit July 15 after an inspection performed by John Walker, the founder of Bonsai Designs of Grand Junction, Colo., and the company that designed and built the park. Walker is also part-owner of Navitat Canopy Adventures of Asheville, N.C., the company that owns and operates the Ijams adventure park. State officials have said that they were unaware of Walker’s ties to Ijams.
Kim Jefferson, administrator of the Division of Workplace Regulations and Compliance under the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said that her office would not have accepted the inspection had it known that the park designer was involved in the initial inspection.
“We would have requested the owner to obtain another third-party inspector,” she said. “Moving forward, program policy will require the third-party inspectors to clearly identify the designer and installer, and this will be included in our checklist.”
She added that inspection reports and annual permits will be rejected “if there is a potential conflict of interest where the designer, installer and inspector are the same.” She told the Knoxville News Sentinel that her office rejected an inspection report earlier this year because “it was clear the inspector was the same as the designer.”