The Path Ahead


Question 6: Inspections: which are more important, in-house or third-party?

Micah: I think a combination of both is essential. In-house inspections monitor and manage the day-to-day changes that occur in adventure parks; they have the opportunity to catch issues before they become problems. Third-party inspections provide a fresh set of eyes on a course and allow for a broader, deeper perspective on compliance in a continually changing regulatory environment. The third-party inspector may also be confirming that the in-house inspection process is working. The two types of inspections offer the most benefit by existing with each other.

Jim: As with training, it’s not a question of in-house versus third-party. The value is in the complete inspection system, which incorporates both. Daily and periodic in-house inspections are a vital part of ensuring the course is ready for use on a regular basis. Well-trained operators and managers will be able to monitor the condition of the course and equipment and are the first line of defense in noting problems.

Third party inspection allows you to bring in the outside perspective of an experienced and competent person. These inspections are performed annually at a minimum and include a more thorough level of assessment. It’s a bit like brushing and flossing, but visiting the dentist once a year for an expert look at anything you might have missed.

Paul: They’re both important. Daily and monthly inspections done in-house on the physical structure and participant equipment, and an annual inspection done by a third party, someone who is not the original builder. Often this third party inspector will catch something that the original builder overlooked or has been doing improperly.

Valdo: A combination of both. Most of our clients can learn basic inspection. But there are things only a professional third-party inspector can spot, like applying learnings from accidents. A professional is much more likely to know about problems and solutions and how things are evolving in the industry. One example: emergency brakes, where the technology is constantly changing. Pros will know what works well and what doesn’t.

Ryan: In-house inspections are very important and they can help keep a course running smoothly and identify most, if not all, issues that may come up with a course. But third-party inspection, I believe, is just as important as in-house inspections. If you are on a course every day, once a week, or even once a month, you can overlook the little things that you see every day. Or, you might see an issue that needs to be resolved, and keep putting it off because it is not “critical” for you to address it that day and you have a lot of other things to do that day. A third-party inspector, most likely, is going to look at the course differently than your in-house inspectors. I think it is very important to have qualified third-party inspections on a regular basis.

Tim: Third party. You should inspect your facility regularly, and have a duty to do so. But at least once a year, someone outside your own organization should give an oversight inspection of your facility and operation. If we are to be peer reviewed, we need to make sure it is by one of our peers from other respected organizations looking for what we might miss or overlook.

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