Monday, September 26, 2011

Nailed It! Will someone please dial 911?

Just because you have one doesn't mean that you know how to use it.  OSHA and NIOSH have teamed-up to publish a Nail Gun Safety Guide.

“Nail gun injuries are responsible for approximately 37,000 emergency room visits annually. In some cases, workers have died from their injuries,” said OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels. “This document will help construction employers make necessary changes to improve nail gun safety and protect their workers from preventable injuries and death.”

While nail guns are easy to operate and can increase productivity, they also can cause internal and external bodily injuries, according to OSHA. These injuries occur as a result of unintended nail discharge; nails that bounce off a hard surface or miss the work piece and become airborne; and disabling the gun’s safety features, among other causes.

The guidance outlines six steps to prevent nail gun injuries:
  1. Select the proper product: Use full sequential trigger nail guns.
  2. Provide training and keep a log of approved users.
  3. Establish written Nail Gun work procedures.
  4. Provide PPE and see that it is properly worn.
  5. Encourage reporting and discussion of injuries and close calls.
  6. Provide first aid and medical treatment.
 Download the guide here:

Play nice.  Share your tools.  Share your knowledge.
Be careful where you point that thing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Performers need some limits and restraints, too.

This video of a 1982 U2 concert at Gateshead clearly shows a performer that has completely disregarded his own safety (and possibly the safety of others had he fallen).  The artist climbs the support structure starting around 2:30 in the video.

Were any laws broken here?  Maybe not, as it was the artists' own initiative to do this, however, promoters, venue owners, stage managers, and staging rental companies must be on the alert for this type of unexpected and unplanned behavior so that proper precautions are taken to thwart it or see that it is done with the proper safety protocols in-place.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where Are We Headed with Outdoor Concert Regulations?

PLSN published a Guest Editorial by this blogger in the September 2011 Issue of Projection, Lights and Staging News.  In it I discuss the potential for a coming storm of concert legislation that may affect the entertainment industry.  Check it out at:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I think I'll go strapless on the catwalk today

Your nemesis - Expanded Metal Grating.
And his side-kick - Bar Grate.

Wurk Pads from the front.
 Working on the Gridiron Deck, Loading Gallery, or Beam Catwalk is not usually all that glamorous, but you can make a fashion statement that is functional and comfortable.  Who knows, maybe you will turn a few heads while wearing these Wurk Pads?  For some unknown reason, masochists must design these work surfaces, as someone that works upon them would never let this happen.  Theatre crews spend way too much time on their knees, and anything you can do to relieve some of that suffering is a good thing.
Wurk Pads - the secret revealed.

The key design element is that they use heavy duty clips that grab your pant legs and won't let go (well, unless you tell them to).  So, wa-la!  Nothing sneaking around behind the crook of your knees to bind-up and get all sweaty.  Sweet!  No sweat.

This can come in handy if you have big feet, too, as some over-the shoe knee pads just won't open-up far enough to slip over your work boots.  I suppose that if you had to work for a stretch on your hiney, you could clip one to each cheek and give them some relief, too.

Knee pads aren't just for crawling around on the steel, either:  the stage and shop floor can harbor small screws, nails, tacks, and other pebble-sized objects that can render your brain useless should you set your full weight down on them via your knee-cap, so put these in your PPE kit - and don't kowtow to anyone without them.

More info at:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rigging Schools set-up for December 2011 & January 2012

Columbus-McKinnon Entertainment Technology division (CMET) has scheduled more schools for rigging training.

Rigging Seminar (December 5th - 6th, 2011)
The Rigging Seminar will be presented by Eric Rouse, an ETCP Certified Rigger and ETCP Recognized Trainer. The head of the Scenic Technology program at Penn State University, Eric has been working in the industry for 20 years. He has designed fl ying systems and performed installations throughout the USA and in Japan.
  • This two-day rigging seminar is an intensive exploration of rigging terminology, equipment, and concepts.
  • Day one begins with basic rigging concepts and then progresses to more advanced principles. Topics will include truss rigging, fall protection, math concepts, and rigging formulas.
  • Day two will cover deadhangs, bridles, and the math used to determine sling length, tension, and vertical and horizontal forces on the building structure.
  • Taking this course is an excellent refresher if you are preparing for an industrial certification exam. Those individuals who are already certified will receive 12 renewal credits.
For additional information, please contact Dave Carmack at CM:

Phone: (276) 475-3124 extension 287 • Email:

Tomcat trusses has also announced their school for February 2012 to be held in beautiful Midland, Texas.  In 2008 in response to the changing needs of the industry and thanks to the input of a team of industry experts, TOMCAT launched a new and improved curriculum. These changes allowed participants to receive both beginning AND advanced training in their area of specialization:  Hoist or Rigging.  Participants can earn 32 renewal credits at each of these ETCP recognized workshops that provide a unique, hands-on learning experience with industry experts. Tomcat invites you to review the Hoist and Truss workshop section as well as the Rigging and Truss Workshop section to learn more about this unique training.

Tomcat Workshops include: All instruction and materials, lodging, lunches, dinners, snacks, transportation for dinner outings.

More information can be found at: • Phone: (432) 694-7070  • Email:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

PLASA Launches Safety in Entertainment Website

EW YORK - PLASA announces the launch of the Entertainment Industry Safety Initiative website, now live at The site is designed to raise awareness of safety in the live event production industry among companies and individuals by providing information and resources regarding safe work practices, record keeping, accident reporting, and more. The site currently focuses on codes and regulations in the United States, but will be expanded to cover other countries in the future.

The website was created by PLASA after meeting with representatives from across the industry, including a variety of trade and professional associations, employers, venues, and labor unions last March at USITT. At the meeting, there was unanimous agreement among the attendees that there is a need and a desire for a central location where information can be easily found to help facilitate safety programs and to promote the general health and safety of the industry. Development of the website is ongoing, and contributions and suggestions from the industry are encouraged.  The site currently only focuses on the US resources, but it will be expanded to encompass resources from many countries.
The site includes news, information, and standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); references to relevant standards from ANSI (many created by PLASA's Technical Standards Program), NFPA, NEC, and NIOSH; OSHA technical resources, record keeping and reporting tools, sample forms, publications, and information about illness and injury prevention. Much of the information has been gathered and consolidated from participants in the inaugural meeting.
Eddie Raymond, Chairman of PLASA North America, said, "Employers have a responsibility to protect the lives and safety of their workers. We want to help make it easier to find information and tools that employers can use to facilitate their safety programs and compliance with OSHA."
Lori Rubinstein, Executive Director, North America, commented, "We had a tremendous response at our first meeting. Many of the participants have assisted in collecting these resources and making them available to the entire industry. Our hope is that this website will help make the industry a safer place to work."
For more information, please visit

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stage Safety Special Report from CX-TV

An expert panel discusses the Indiana stage collapse, Pukkelpop disaster, Ottawa Bluesfest stage collapse and the German Love Parade deaths.
Panel members:
Michael 'Shackles' Kent, AVERT Risk Management/ASSURE Event Safety
Roderick van Gelder, Stage Safety Pty Ltd
Travis Semmens, Aust. Concert & Entertainment Security
Richard Matheson, Engineer, VDM Consulting
Iain 'Spud' Barclay, ESS Australia
Moderated by Julius Grafton and produced at the Sydney Australia CX-TV News studio on Tuesday, August 30, 2011.

This Industry Special report does not have ad breaks. VIEW HERE NOW.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tread Lightly - and don't bust your butt doing it

I continue to find more and more amazing steps and stairs both backstage and in the audience chamber that don't comply with ADA and NFPA Life Safety Code requirements for clearly marking the edges of steps.  sMany of these are in brand new buildings - why are code inspectors and architects not addressing this?

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) places great emphasis on the need for people to clearly see the edges of floor transitions.  The ADA guidelines and rules are not just about preventing and marking bumps under wheelchair wheels!   It is about all of us needing to see under low-light conditions, and these conditions occur in many places outside of the theatre, too.
  • When light levels are low our vision becomes monochromatic (black and white, or really shades of gray), so there is less information for our brain to process.  Strike One.
  • We usually don't look directly where we are going to step, we rely on our peripheral vision, which is much less detailed than our central cone of vision.  Strike two.
  • Where we step is largely governed by out sense of where we think our feet are going, and a large dose of trust that the destination is safe (i.e. flat, level, and large enough to stand upon).  If it's not, then Strike 3.
  What you (don't) see above is the two steps leading down from a sort platform stage into the front cross-aisle.  And no, the dark-gray to light-gray transition is not the step.  It's like (not) seeing a polar bear in a snowstorm.  And that is with the houselights UP.  Imagine this in the dark with black and-white vision . . .

At left is a stairwell in the catwalk system.  The picture was taken with a flash so it appears much brighter than the actual working space.  Black steps with no contrasting edges, and the step treads are only about 8" front to back, not hardly enough to plant your foot on when you are going up them in a size 11 work boot, and very difficult to get a feel for when descending in the dark - your toes want to fall right on over the edges that you can barely see.

The diamond plate tread pattern can be helpful if you have a coarse tread work shoe, but if there is very much dust build-up it can still be quite slippery.

One way to retrofit steps for traction and visibility is to add a stair nosing assembly that has both traction grit and a  photoluminescent  strip combined.  The GBC ST-1001 Bull Nose Stair Nosing is a good example of this type of product.

GBC makes another product that has a slide-in media slot that can be used for decorative inserts or possibly a paid advertising space and generate revenue resource for a venue.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Boom - Boom: Out Go The Lights

Emergency Lighting Systems have come a long way in the past few years.  Both LED and battery technology have improved significantly, so it is much easier to obtain brighter and longer lasting illumination of signs and emergency egress routes.  In the US we typically refer to both local building codes, the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code Chapter 7 and NFPA 70 National Electric Code Article 700.  In the UK there is BS 5266.

Hochiki Europe has put together a great little guide book that shows where and how Emergency Lighting should be deployed in a facility.  The guide book can be downloaded here:

Although the BS 5266 standards are slightly different than the US standards, this is still a good example guide to read for US venue operators as the basic principles are well documented and the graphic examples are clear and concise.

One of the leading failures of many emergency lighting systems is the battery.  If the battery system is not maintained and tested they can fail to perform.  The lights must be tested regularly, and they must be operated under emergency power for an extended time to ensure that when called upon they will light the way for safe egress from a facility.

The example above shows corroded battery cells with low electrolyte levels.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Emergency Flashlight for Preparedness . . . where did I put that !?

The Panasonic BF-541 Emergency Light, which is powered by two D-cell replaceable batteries (sold separately), can be easily wall-mounted anywhere fast access to lighting is needed. An automatic switch feature turns the Emergency Light ON automatically when removed from its holder.  The light will glow up to 18 hours with its high-luminance krypton bulb when used with alkaline cells. If you replace the lamp with an LED you can probably extend the run time further (why didn't they think of that?)

To save battery power when not in use, the battery is disengaged and the light goes OFF when returned to its holder. Because there is no switch, it encourages users to return it to a location where it might be found by others rather than just laying it down and forgetting about it.  The exterior case of the flashlight also has a little  photoluminescent  marking dot which glows in the dark, making it a wee bit easier to find when the lights go out.  I think I'd put a BIG honking strip of photoluminescent tape down the side to make sure that it is visible.
Other flashlights of interest might be: