Singapore has one of the toughest and most comprehensive amusement ride regulatory frameworks in the world. During the process of getting your amusement ride approved for use, it’s not uncommon to encounter technical hurdles, barriers and blockages. This is because Singapore operates an active regulation framework. An ‘active’ regulation framework means that you need to prove compliance before being permitted to operate your ride. Whereas in the UK, (ADIPS), strict standards are monitored, but compliance is self-enforcing.
The two main regulatory bodies in Singapore are the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). The main legislation underpinning the active regulatory scheme is the Amusement Rides Safety Act 2011 (ARSA) under the BCA. As this is relatively new legislation, it’s still being regularly updated and expanding in scope.
While most attractions-based construction projects (or any construction for that matter) also have to comply with BCA and SCDF requirements from a ‘structural’ perspective, it’s the requirements under ARSA that have a far greater impact upon ongoing operations’ management.
- Maintenance standards,
- Regular inspections and engineering certifications,
- Reporting obligations,
- Ensuring adequate technical knowledge in staffing and management competencies.
Failure to meet regulatory requirements in any of these areas may result in fines, imprisonment and a complete ride closure.
Here are the: 10 steps to getting your amusement ride approved for use in Singapore
1. Know and communicate your concept clearly . If you don’t understand your product, how can you expect the regulatory authorities to authorize your attraction? Learn your attraction’s concept inside-out. This will help when being asked difficult questions regarding compliance and ARSA. If you’re proposing a new ride, know what you want to achieve - and when. Keep familiar (and extra conservative) with your development schedule.
2. Initial consultation . Approach the BCA for a consultation, even if you think that your attraction is ‘unregulated’. It's better to involve them from the very beginning. This will aid in devising and managing your time lines from concept to completion.
A) Unregulated rides. Although you may have managed to avoid the rigors of active regulation, if the BCA deem there are safety risks at any time, they can still choose to enact regulations for your ride. Remember that the option to regulate is always present. Hence, it is in your interest to always maintain high safety standards. Furthermore, the scope of ARSA is constantly changing and expanding - what was once deemed ‘unregulated’ may change to ‘regulated’ status very quickly. You have a basic business incentive to keep your customers safe, so they can become long term advocates for your business, and keep your insurance premiums to a minimum.
B) Regulated rides. BCA will classify your ride as a ‘Minor’ or ‘Major’ ride. Each classification comes with its own set of requirements. ARIES, the BCA online ride information submission system must be applied for using the permit holder and ride managers Singapass accounts. BCA can assist here.
3. SCDF consultation . If your ride is regulated, you will also have to carry out a similar approach with SCDF. Again, remember to communicate your concept clearly.
4. Appoint a Specialist Professional Engineer (SPE) and Conformity Assessor (CA) (if required) . There are only a limited number of engineers in Singapore that are able to specialize in attractions and rides. There are even less active SPE players in the industry. Their costs will vary based on the complexity, past experience and time constraints of your project. A CA is even more difficult to find. For a major ride, the licensing approval process can take anywhere between 6-12 months. For large and complicated projects this could take a lot longer – literally years. For a minor ride, anywhere between 3-6 months is generally required for approval. It all depends on size, complexity, type of ride, risk profiles etc. The SPE is the key person in your approval process as they have all professional communications with BCA after the initial consultation, so make sure they guide you on what is required.
5. Use relevant standards to prove the safety of your attraction to BCA . BCA adopt a risk based approach when it comes to regulation but always refer to industry technical standards. They rely heavily on the European and American standards (EN and ASTM). You can start by collating all your documentation required as per ARSA2011. This can be an extensive task.
6. Start your permit applications . There are four permits to obtain. The first two - Installation Permit (IP) and Notice of Approval (NOA) will check the design itself. BCA have extensive powers to set requirements around your design and therefore make sure, before you begin manufacturing your ride, that you have the IP and NOA for your design. You must ensure that your manufactured design is consistent with your submission to avoid delays later in the process. Typical submission documents can vary slightly but generally consist of: risk assessments, calculations (endorsed by a Singapore PE), drawings (endorsed by a Singapore PE), manuals (operation and maintenance), installation plans, and test plans. All these will need to be reviewed and endorsed by the appointed SPE and a SPE report generated for submission. Additionally, for major rides, a CA must complete a review. Once the SPE and CA approve the detail of the documentation, you can then submit to BCA for their comments (via the SPE). It’s common for the BCA to reply with further questions and clarifications and expect this ‘back and forth’ process to repeat multiple times - BCA will be very thorough in their review - just remain patient. It can go back and fourth up to 10 times! Just make sure you respond quickly (via your SPE of course).
7. Appoint a Ride Manager (RM) and Fire Rescue Co-ordinator (FRC) . Appointment can actually be completed at any time during the approval process but it must be done before Operating Permit (OP) is issued. An OP is the ultimate final approval you are working towards. BCA actively interview almost all RM's to ensure sufficient competency for adherence to the ARSA 2011. So your RM should be ideally technically trained but fundamentally carry sufficient experience and be very familiar with ARSA 2011.
8. Build your Attraction . Once the IP and NOA permits are issued, build your ride as per the design approved. You must not build your ride at all before you obtain these two permits.
9. Test your ride . The OP and Certificate of Compliance (COC) stage confirms the design functions as intended. Test your ride in accordance to the test plan submitted in the IP stage. Allow the SPE (and CA if required) to review how your ride performs. Again, submit to SCDF for COC issuance before BCA for the OP - as the OP is the final permit. After you are issued with the OP you are good to operate, immediately! The OP and COC submissions are completed through your SPE - similar to the IP and NOA permits.
10. Public Liability Insurance Coverage . The legislation requires each ride operating in Singapore to have at least (SGD) $1million of public liability insurance cover. Since this is an active regulation scheme, permits will need to be renewed annually. Your insurance cover will be a pre-requisite to any initial approval and ongoing renewal. So do ensure that your business has ongoing budget allocation for annual SPE and insurance premium costs.
The ARSA2011 can be a VERY time consuming and costly exercise. There can be many unknown pitfalls, challenges and pressures – especially when compared to a passive regulatory scheme. So it pays to consult someone who knows what they are doing. It could certainly save you a great deal of costs in the long run. In the end, you will have a safe ride, but you also gain ‘bragging rights’ for complying to one of the most actively regulated, and strictest regulatory schemes for amusement rides in the world!
Ultimate Entertainments Group will be able to assist. Call for a no-obligation consultation with our in-house technical expert, Steve Wood. Based in Singapore, Steve has over 9 years’ specialist sector experience, working with some of the biggest and most extreme amusement rides in the world.
As a leading attractions and amusement ride expert, Steve offers no-obligation consultations in the areas of:
- Design compliance,
- Risk assessment and mitigation.
- Ride inspection,
- Maintenance and operations management; including Ride Manager (RM) and Fire Rescue Co-ordinator (FRC) expertise.
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