“We investigate claims immediately and
thoroughly, taking witness statements,
documenting with photos, noting the weather,
and so forth,” says Baroni. “This is so that we
can develop strategy and settle cases before
claimants get to lawyers. I am hands-on with
every litigated case and claim.”
Physical plant. Baroni frequently visits parks,
some of them by surprise, resulting in hundreds
of safety improvements, from kitchen reconfigu-rations to bridge repairs and roof supports.
He also enlisted vendors and ride designers,
working with manufacturers to redesign
warnings and procedures in their manuals and
signage. After an incident in which a girl fell
from a rock-climbing wall, Baroni demanded
numerous design changes to the safety harness
system. He has pushed for the redesign of water
slides, rollercoaster seats, and ride restraints.
Baroni has also reviewed physical plant and
work processes to ensure employee safety, in
everything from weather hazards to how they
install giant Christmas trees.
Processes. The revamped process for Palace
employees who breach safety guidelines—for
example, a waterpark lifeguard who walks
away from his post—is clear and consistent:
immediate termination. “The certainty and
swiftness of terminations has proven to be a
highly successful incentive to abide by safety
rules,” Baroni says.
For workers’ compensation claims, Palace
implemented a Nurse’s Line that employees
can call to get medical advice rather than being
immediately funneled into the WC process. The
types of work people can do are adjusted to
Prevention. Baroni has implemented third-
party safety inspections, in both the food and
beverage and ride maintenance aspects. Palace
was the first in the industry to ban loose shoes
on go-karts, as well as headwear; as a result,
go-kart claims have declined by 50 percent.
Baroni has revamped Palace’s insurance
coverage, replacing a long-tenured insurance
company and broker with new ones that cover
amusement parks exclusively. “They are like an
extended safety team,” he says.
Preparation. Upon joining the company, Baroni
pulled years’ worth of bills and case files to
analyze them for outcomes and efficiency. If
and when Palace is sued, he is ready with a
new team of superstar personal injury defense
counsel in each state. This team also saves the
All of these actions, and many others, have
contributed to a robust culture of safety at
Palace Entertainment that has resulted in
plummeting claims as well as costs:
• Active lawsuits: down 75 percent
• Number of claims: down 80 percent
• Number of workers’ comp incidents: down
• Number of high-severity workers’ comp
claims: down 75 percent
• Average case settlement: down from 40
percent to 10 percent
• Outside legal fees: down more than 85
Baroni doesn’t claim that all of this was easy.
“There was definitely short-term pain and
turmoil,” he says. Currently, “enthusiasm for
safety is driven by a culture of people who are
happy in their jobs, treated well and fairly, and
whose concerns are heard.
“Safety 1st is a corporate culture phenomenon.
We are all on a shared mission. I am amazed at
where Palace is now.”
Impressive reductions in suits and claims; the project is sustainable, it
has been around for several years and is still seeing improved results.
Great story about prevention and safety.