Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Greg Ladanyi Dies From Fall off of Stage

On Friday September 25th, 2009,  Grammy Award Winning Engineer/Producer Greg Ladanyi, President of Maple Jam Records, was touring with music artist, Anna Vissi, whose Greek album Apagorevmeno was his latest completed project.  Just before the show he was crossing a backstage bridge when he slipped and fell 5 meters and hit his head and ruptured a lung.  Ladanyi was rushed to General Hospital Nicosia, where he remained in critical condition throughout the weekend.  He from his injuries a few days later.  He was 57 years young.

More information can be found at:

Whether backstage, onstage, above the stage, or in the audience, one must be constantly vigilant for hazards. Watch your step!  Make sure that walkways and platforms have toe-boards (kick plates) to keep people and loose objects from slipping past the railings.

Monday, September 28, 2009

When things go horribly wrong with track lights . . .wait - isn't that redundant?

So, here we have a track light fixture that doesn't want to stay in the track, and someone has tried to duct-tape it into place (leaving that great melted glue residue - yeech!).

This fixture was mounted above the control booth window, intended to provide worklight on the control console. A task light is usually a very narrow coverage angle light source directed toward the work area. In a Control Booth a narrow beam is helpful to keep the light off of the booth window (to reduce glare and light spill into the audience seating) and out of the operator's eyes'. In this case, the lamp is one of those half-silvered globes intended to bounce light off of a reflector so that it only provides indirect diffuse light -- but with this mis-matched lamp-fixture combination most of the light just goes up into the cylindrical fixture housing.

Scary. I don't even know if it works - I was afraid to turn it on fearing it might burst into flames.

Rules to live by:
  1. Don't duct tape lights or anything else that gets hot.
  2. Don't duct tape anything that hangs over your head.
  3. Don't use duct tape on electrical things (it is a very poor insulator).
  4. If your track-light fixture is broken - replace it.
  5. Use the correct lamp for the lighting task.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rigging Expert and Author Harry Donovan passes away

The author of "Entertainment Rigging, A Practical Guide" (ISBN 0-9723381-1), rigging systems designer, engineer, and teacher at many rigging workshops over the years has contributed much to the safety practices in our industry. More information about Harry can be found at:

T.E.A.M Rigging Council on Yahoo Groups forwarded this message:

"It is with profound sadness that I write to you today. I was informed this morning that Harry Donovan, our luminaria of the theatrical and entertainment rigging industry has passed. Harry Donovan passed away last night in the hospital to which he was admitted suddenly yesterday. I spoke with his widow, Patty today. Harry had been suffering through another bout with cancer, this time of the throat. After many months of chemo, radiation and most recently, surgery, he passed away without any other warning. Harry was a friend of mine, a mentor and a sailing buddy. I looked up to him in all things rigging and safety. He will be missed here in Seattle. He, along with Dick Delay have helped bring local 15's stagehands into the complicated world of big time rigging and rigging safety. I can't say enough about how much experience and of course knowledge and even employment he brought to our local in Seattle.I know I will miss him very much, Please do what you can to spread the word to our Industry? I know his wife would appreciate it. As will I. Best wishes and regards to all at ESTA from Seattle. Pete Zink, IATSE #15 Seattle Stagehands"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's 10:00 - Do you know where your Fire Extinguishers are?

When you have fire extinguishers in your facility it is very important that you and your staff:
  • Know where they are
  • Know when they were last inspected
  • Know how to use them

Knowing where they are is important not just for you and your staff, but for the person that has to check them as well. I frequently find units in the same building that have five or six different inspections YEARS. It is obvious that each successive inspector did not know where all of the fire extinguishers were located. Suggestion: Draw a building floor plan and annotate the location of all of the fire protection devices:

  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Fire Alarm Pull Stations, Smoke Detectors, Rate-of-Rise Heat Detectors
  • Special Devices (Fire Door releases, Fire Curtain(s), Smoke Vent(s), Elevator Lobbies)
  • Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP)
  • Alarm Strobes, Horns, Bells
  • Emergency Lights
  • Fire Sprinkler Heads
  • Fire Hose Cabinets

Keep it filed with your inspection records, and post copies for your staff. Other good information to keep with this would include contacts:

  • Fire Marshal
  • Fire Alarm Company
  • Fire Sprinkler Company
  • Fire Extinguisher Service Company
  • Rigging System Service Company
  • Smoke Vent System Service Company

Note the dates on the inspection tag in the picture above -- they are ambiguous (no year), and difficult to read. To help identify yearly inspections are being done on all equipment, use a different color of tag each year (red, yellow, blue, green, white, etc.) so that non-conforming tags stand-out more noticeably.

Know when and how to use a fire supression device. Get training for your staff and students. If you can't actually put-out a real fire, then do the next best thing and use a fire extinguisher training device like the BullsEye or I.T.S. Extreme from BullEx Safety (http://www.bullexsafety.com/).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Could you sharpen that stick a little bit more - I'm not sure it will fully pentrate my skull!

All-thread rod that protrudes below the air duct mounting bracket - cut an an angle to ensure damage to anyone that dares to come near . . . yet another reason to wear a hard-hat!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Zzzzzaaap! Is that burning wire I smell?

When you connect two electrical items together you should follow a few simple rules:

  • The National Electric Code
  • Use one piece of wire, not three between two devices (this really cuts-down on work, too!)
As you can see in this strip of porcelain sockets, there are multiple splices of three different kinds if wire, each which is wrapped with a different type of tape, not all of which are really good insulators. The Edison plug (NEMA 1-15P) is wrapped in masking tape, too!

If you are not a licensed electrician, don't be wiring 120 Volt (or higher) power circuits that will be used anywhere, particularly on stage where you will be exposing others to your deathtrap.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin' - Raw Hide! (Well, at least Raw Brain)

I found this steel microphone base up on the elevated locking gallery in this theatre. The gallery has no kick-plate around it's perimeter to keep heavy things from rolling or sliding-off onto the unsuspecting crowd below (which is a whole 'nother issue), and is about 10 feet above the stage floor.

Not setting round rolly things on edge over people's heads would qualify as a "no-brainer" to most folks. But you can never tell what somebody else might do. So, to keep from becoming a 'no-brainer' - always wear a hard hat around places like this. Pick one up at the local hardware stor or safety supply - they are less than $10 bucks and could save your life.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pardon me while I trip over this pipe and impale myself...

This is a good example of where NOT to have a fire sprinkler pipe installed: Running right across the floor of a walk-on wire tension grid. Not only is it a huge trip hazard, but the hold-down calmps they used were left with bolt ends sticking up far enough to impale someone. Clearly, the bolts should be trimmed-off and the pipe maked with a bright yellow / black OSHA hazard marking tape.

Poor coordination in the design and installation phases cause things like this to happen. In reviewing the site, it was obvious that the sprinkler contractor just took the easy way through, as there was plenty of room overhead to run the pipes above even the tallest person working on the grid.

Not seen in the picture: right above the pipes were 2'x4' fluorescent work-lights that were suspended with the bottoms at about 5-8" above the grid deck. So, while you were busy looking down to keep from tripping, you hit your head on the sharp metal corners of the light fixtures (painted black to hide them). Yet another good reason to wear a hard-hat in the theatre!