Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Video Display Falls On Family, 1 Killed, 4 Injured

On Friday, March 22, 2013, a family returning home from a spring vacation in Florida had a stop-over in Alabama at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport that had tragic consequences:  A Video Display showing Flight Arrivals for the airlines toppled-over without warning and trapped a Mother and four children under it.  One of the children, a 10-year-old boy, did not survive.

Passersby rushed to lift the multi-screen video display off the family, and it's estimated weight of 300-400 pounds required six people to lift it up.  ABC News coverage can be found here:

Witnesses described the display to be a free-standing assembly that was not anchored to the wall behind it.  It appeared that the structural integrity of the floor, although concrete, may not have been sufficient to support the weight of the front-heavy unit.  Investigators are working to determine if the framework failed, or the floor failed.  The accident occurred only weeks after the airport had completed a $201 million dollar remodeling.

Update 2013-03-27:  The City of Birmingham has stated that the cabinet that contained the video monitors is considered furniture and was not under their jurisdiction to inspect because it was not a structural component of the building.  The cabinet was a freestanding item, and descriptions by witnesses say that it appeared to be attached to the floor with construction adhesive, with no bolts or other fasteners.  The Alabama Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have also said that the device was not under their jurisdiction.

Update 2013-03-31:  Luke Bresette, 10, was killed by the falling sign, while his 5-year-old brother Tyler suffered a concussion, and his 8-year-old brother Sam had a broken leg and nose. The boys’ mother, Heather Bresette, had broken ankles, a crushed pelvis and was in intensive care in the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital after surgery.

The father, Ryan Bresette, and another son and daughter, were at the airport but not injured.
Birmingham, Ala.-based Brasfield & Gorrie and Bloc Global Services Group are the construction management team for the $201.6 million modernization project, which began in June 2012
Although this accident did not occur in a performance venue, it is important to note that many theatres utilize video displays in lobby spaces and other support spaces, including classrooms.  When was the last time anyone checked to see how your TV's, Projectors, and speakers are properly secured?

 TyWrap Wrigging doesn't cut it.

More information about video display mounting can be found here:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

LED Screen Falls Injuring Three at Miami Ultra Music Festival

Thursday, March 14, 2013 - Workers setting-up modular LED display screens for the annual Miami Ultra Music Festival were trapped under screen components that fell about 30 feet (10m) from the overhead trusses.  Fortunately, Fire and Rescue teams were on the festival site preparing for the two-weekend event that runs over Spring Break.  They were able to respond immediately and free the trapped workers.  The workers were transported to local hospitals where two were checked and found to have only minor injuries, and one worker remains hospitalized with two broken legs.  The incident occurred just prior to 8:00 PM the night before the festival opens.

The City of Miami had originally passed on requiring special engineering reviews for the festival stages, but the morning after the incident, they rescinded that ruling and city engineers, building inspectors, the Miami Fire Marshal, and OSHA reviewed all six stages to ensure that they were safe.  The event opened on-schedule and over 330,000 people are anticipated to attend.  Reports coming-in the first evening of the festival indicated that more than 15 patrons were transported for medical reasons due to a variety of causes.

A video from a Miami TV station is here:

Hopefully, the recently developed Event Safety Guide organized by the Event Safety Alliance will reduce the number of worker and patron injuries over the years to come.  This assumes, of course, that cities and states chose to adopt this as a best practices manual.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Oh, that couldn't possibly happen here . . ."

Famous last words.  Not words to live by, either.  The bloggers at Cue To Cue on the BackstageJobs web site have posted a great summary about many of the Theatre and Assembly Space Fires that scorched millions of dollars worth of facilities last year.  Go here to read about them:

Theatre fires are not “something that used to happen.” There were at least 14 just this year.

Of particular interest are the video clips of the scenery and drapery fires that occurs on-stage during a performance.  Luckily, they didn't result in the 600+ deaths that the Iroquois Theatre fire caused, but the circumstances were largely the same - and this blogger sees the set-up for this type of fire ALL THE TIME!  Fireproof your sets - its not just a good idea - its the law! Ref:  NFPA 101 Life Safety Code - Chapter 13, Section

For schools and other theatre owners that don't have, or are planning to omit fire curtains from your venue, take a serious look at your fire prevention and control planning - because this could happen in your building, too!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bucket Bails Break Bones

The ubiquitous plastic bucket - it shows-up unannounced, hangs around like an unwanted house-guest, and finally spills it guts and gets thrown in the trash.

Aside from the obvious bad rigging (you did see that, didn't you?), plastic buckets have a serious weak point:  The metal bail that forms the carrying handle.  This is nothing but a piece of bent steel wire that hooks into the plastic rim of the bucket.  Given sufficient (over)loading, the plastic bucket can deform and let-go of the bail (literally tearing the plastic), and/or the metal bail can bend and lose it's grip on the bucket.  Either way - this thing is going down.

We just love to over-stuff our carry-alls, and when you add-up the weight of hand-tools, nuts & bolts, drills, and all that other crud you forget to clean-out, the weight can become significant.  This wouldn't be such a big deal if you were just carrying this across the stage or shop, but there are times we forget logic and tie a rope on thee a try to hoist them up to elevated work locations.  Not such a good idea - What was once just going to fall  a few inches onto your foot now becomes a bomb falling from overhead - maybe 20 feet, maybe 50 feet, depending where you are going with it.  Either way, this can be deadly should the handle fail.

Safe lifting of materials is usually best accomplished when the lifting system encompasses the load, this places the load on the lifting device and not on the object being lifted.

The folks at The Circus Company (I guess circuses use these things to haul food and water for the animals) have a simple, yet effective solution:  Build a load-rated sling designed to fit those 5-gallon buckets we are so fond of.

These slings are rated for 200 Pounds and are inexpensive (relative to the cost of a new noggin').  The handle is constructed of reinforced Nylon, and has an extra layer across the hoist point.  It's pretty snazzy, too!

Don't be a doofus and drop your load  - secure it!

More info at:

Fly the friendly skys . . .

Monday, March 4, 2013

Thank you very much! TSB visitors pass 200K mark.

Sometime in the past week this blog passed a milestone of 200,000 views.  The hit counter is rolling regularly now, and I want to let the readers know that I really enjoy doing this.  It has been quite rewarding to read the comments and questions that are posed both publicly and privately.

Again:  Thanks!

You can be cool, too - Be one of the first five people to send me a note (via mail, e-mail, courier, comment, etc.) and tell me about how the Theatre Safety Blog has helped you with your job and I'll send you a free TSB TeqShirt The TSB is always looking for guest bloggers, too, so if you have a particular safety issue you have a tale to tell about, or want to rant on other issues, let me know.
You, too, can be a snazzy dresser!