Monday, March 5, 2012

Another one's down. Another one bites the dust.

March 5, 2012 - Reggio Calabaria, Italy.  One stage hand was killed and two other injured as a space frame style stage truss structure collapsed and fell forward into the stage right side tiers of audience seating.  Fortunately, the incident occurred during the initial set-up of the equipment and there were no audience members present.
Photo courtesy of Life In Italy

The incident happened about 2:00 AM preceding the planned show the following evening.  Witnesses say one side of the stage structure slipped and collapsed sending the overhead trusses filed with lighting equipment onto Matteo Armelini, age 32.  He was killed instantly under the weight of the equipment.

Experts will now have to decide whether the collapse was caused by the failure of the Palacalafiore Sports Center’s parquet flooring to bear the weight, by poor structure design, or by human error during the erection of the structure.  The evening’s concert was cancelled.  The Reggio Calabria public prosecutor’s office has opened an inquiry and placed the entire structure under judicial seizure. Firefighters who provided assistance at the scene are seeking to establish the dynamics and causes of the incident.  Forensic police scientists have also been called in.

The stage for the Laura Pausini concert was the middle sized unit of three different stages used by the Faenza-born singer.  The stage set-up required fifteen articulated trucks to transport all the equipment.

At 1:00 you can clearly see the broken sport court flooring that could have possibly initiated the collapse.

This fatality comes just three months after a 20-year-old man was killed preparing the stage for a show by Italian rock star Jovanotti in Trieste.  (

Looking at these pictures and correlating them to images of other similar truss collapses shows that they almost never fall straight down, but instead topple to one side as the corner joints give-way.  More attention needs to be placed on diagonal bracing to help prevent this type of failure mode.

For those of you rigging these types of structures:  it's time to review the proper assembly instructions with the manufacturers and make sure that all the parts are being installed properly.  Checking load limits (not guessing - actually calculating real loads) and checking the structure components for signs of stress, like kinks, cracks, and metal fractures should be done for each and every build.

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