North Carolina State Fair Adds New Background Check Language into Employee Contracts

By Michael Klazema on 10/24/2014

Recent years have seen an uptick in background checks in virtually every industry out there, from daycare to education. More recently, though, organizers at state fairs and similar events have been seeing the need for more in-depth background checks, especially for carnival workers. This trend has now come to North Carolina, where organizers of the annual North Carolina State Fair have revised employee contracts to include more language about background check requirements.

Unlike many similar events throughout the country, the North Carolina State Fair does not take place in the summer months, but during the second half of October. Preparations for the fair, however, have been running for several weeks now, starting with careful ride inspections. During the 2013 state fair, five attendees were injured when one of the carnival rides at the event, called he Vortex, started up when they were trying to disembark.

The individuals thrown from the ride because of the technical malfunction were mostly from one family. The family has sued two state fair subcontractors for not making sure their rides were safe. In addition, the Vortex ride operators are facing criminal charges, accused of tampering with the ride.

While the incident called for deeper ride inspections, though, it also inspired event organizers to look more closely at the people working at the fair. Based on language in new contracts, the state of North Carolina is responsible for running background checks on all permanent employees. Subcontractors, meanwhile, companies like Powers Great American Midway and Family Attractions Amusement, both of which are defendants in the aforementioned lawsuit, are responsible for running background checks of their own employees.

These new background check requirements are a positive change for the North Carolina State Fair, which will struggle to maintain a positive image this year in light of last fall's Vortex incident. While background screenings may or may not have prevented that incident, it will help to make the fair a safer place for families in the future.

Typically, carnival companies have reputations for being too lax with their own background check security. From sex offenders to violent criminals, more than a few dangerous individuals have been able to secure employment at carnivals and state fairs across the country in recent years. Obviously, individuals like this have no place working at family events, and hopefully, the new background check restrictions in place at the North Carolina State Fair will help keep such dangerous offenders on the outside.

Meanwhile, more in-depth ride inspections will help to prevent another Vortex incident from happening, though such precautions should have already been in place as a due diligence for event organizers.


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