KITV 4 News has learned zip line operations have no workplace safety regulations in Hawaii, unlike other amusement rides. Meanwhile, the state has launched a workplace fatality investigation following Wednesday?s fatal zip line accident on the Big Island.
The state's Occupational Safety and Health division has six pages of workplace safety regulations about amusement rides at carnivals, and fairs. Those rules set standards for everything from amusement rides? design and construction to electrical safety and assembly and dis-assembly as well as testing their loads.
But those standards do not apply to zip line operations in Hawaii.
"It's not regulated as an amusement ride because it doesn't have anything mechanical or electrical," said Audrey Hidano, Deputy Director of the state?s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
Hidano said the zip line worker's death could prompt some regulation of the zip line industry, which has operations on all the major islands.
"But if there is enough interest in regulation then we would have to go to the legislature and then it would be a policy decision by the legislators," Hidano said, noting the state would still be mindful about over regulation of businesses.
State workplace safety inspectors will now interview witnesses and test the zip line equipment that collapsed as part of their workplace fatality probe, she said.
"The probe is to make sure it doesn't happen again. And also to make sure that the owner or the people that are working in the company did the installation of the zip line correctly, according to plans and specs," Hidano said.
The investigation could take about six months.
"Whatever we learn from this we will definitely put out some kind of announcement to other zip line owners to make sure it doesn't repeat itself," Hidano said.
Hidano said the state could decide to require a "buddy system" for zip line workers, similar to what happens at containers loaded off ships at Hawaii's harbors.
"Like how they do it down in the Matson container shipyard,? Hidano said. ?They have a crane operator that's in the bucket and then somebody down on standby. So is this one of the rules that we would have to implement moving forward, that you work on a buddy system?"
An inspector will meet with the zip line operators and others at the site first thing Thursday morning to begin the workplace death investigation, Hidano said.
The family of the dead employee could be eligible for a death benefit of up to $220,000 from the state's special compensation fund that covers workers compensation claims.