Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Whether or Not to Monitor Weather

To be, or not to be (rained-out, or sued out of business), that is the question.  As exemplified by recent weather-related event catastrophes, the monitoring of the local weather is no longer an option.  Sanity and safety dictate that event planners have accurate and knowledgeable weather experts closely monitoring the skies.
What better source for these experts than someone that lives dead-center in Tornado Alley - Norman Oklahoma.  WeatherOps is a subdivision of  Weather Decision Technologies, Inc., a global leader in providing state-of-the-science weather detection, nowcasting, and forecasting systems. WeatherOps is an live entertainment focused offering within WDT's range of services.  WeatherOps offers a staff of trained meteorologists that track weather as it pertains to a specific indoor or outdoor event.  They can provide forecasts and alerts that can be informational broadcast via Internet, SMS (text messages), mobile apps, and/or mobile push alerts.  Event managers have direct phone access to their meteorologists regardless of the time-of-day.

The popular music group Linkin Park has recognized the benefit of this type of service, and has contracted with WeatherOps to follow their 2012 Living Things tour.  WeatherOps will be providing the tour manager, Jim Digby, with color-coded emergency weather plans throughout the tour.  Digby is one of the founding members of the Event Safety Alliance.

Keep your events safer by proactive monitoring of weather activity by utilizing this, or other similar services.

Also see: for a link to the Spring 2012 Protocol magazine article about event weather safety.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lean, Mean, Sign Makin' Machine

Brady Label Company makes a lot of great ways to tag your building, shelves, and equipment; and getting that point across to people isn't always very easy.  The adage that 'a picture is worth a thousand words' is put to work in this new guide book.

It's light on text and heavy on good examples about how a little signage can go along way towards managing your mess.

The book is FREE and can be ordered in hard copy or downloaded as an Adobe PDF.

Go to:

Stopin' & Startin' - Power Control for Your Tools

Bigger is Better.  Especially if you are trying to find the OFF button in a hurry.  You can bang your knee into this puppy and know it's going to get the job done for you.

ReiTech ( makes several flavors of this to fit just about any shop tool.  It is more than just an ON/OFF switch - it has a magnetic contactor in it that will shut-down the power if you have a electrical outage, too, so the machinery won't re-start on it's own when the power is restored.

They also offer machine bases with the EASY OFF fully integrated upon which you can mount your existing tools.  This is great for those items that are sitting on the wobbly handmade bench just waiting to topple-over.

For other E-Stop Options, look at:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

YECH! A picture is worth a thousand words

Keeping your stage gear sanitary has been a blog post topic before, however, this video from microphone manufacturer Audio Technica pretty well sums it up.

For more information about keeping your mics clean, see:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Getting a Grip

ISO Symbol for 'Gloves Required'
We take many parts of our lives for granted, and we don’t typically realize how important they are until one of them gets injured or goes missing.  When it comes to body parts, our hands tend to fall in that category.  How would you cope if one or both of your hands were missing or out of commission?  Providing proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to guard against injuries can help, however, the selection of PPE for hands can be vast and varied.  Here are a few aspects of glove selection that should be considered.

Physical Injuries to your hands can come in several different ways. Physical trauma can get ugly fast, and be quite painful.
  • Crushing can happen when heavy loads of forces compress the hand. Mild impacts can cause bruising of the skin and underlying muscles.  More severe forces can break the skin by forcing the flesh from between the incoming object and the underlying bones.  Wearing gloves with hard-shell knuckle guards and/or rubber bumpers across the backs of the hand and fingers can be beneficial.  Brightly colored gloves can be helpful here because they make your hands more visible to both yourself and others.  Wearing black gloves when loading counterweights on a dark the fly gallery is a good way to get your pinkies smashed!
  • Abrasion is caused when your skin is rubbed tangent to the skin surface.  Continued mild scuffing can build callouses, where continued rubbing can cause blisters to form.  More abrasive surfaces can tear-away chunks that you would rather stayed attached.  ANSI / IESA 105-2011 Abrasion Resistance is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least, and 5 being the best.  For gloves tested to the European EN 388 standard, the scale is 1-4.
  • Impalement or Punctures can come from many different types of sources like wood splinters, needles, screw and nail tips (think about that the next time you reach around something to grasp it without looking to see what’s there first . . .), and sharp ends of wires, glass shards, or sheared metal.  ANSI / IESA 105-2011 Puncture Resistance is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least, and 5 being the best.   For gloves tested to the European EN 388 standard, the scale is 1-4.
  • Cutting occurs when there is a sharp edge like a saw blade, knife, freshly sheared metal, or an unpolished glass edge.  ANSI / IESA 105-2011 Cut Resistance is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least, and 5 being the best.  For gloves tested to the European EN 388 standard, the scale is also 1-5.
Thermal Injuries can happen when the surface temperature of an object is beyond the ability for skin to dissipate the energy differential.
  • Extreme Cold can be caused by handling dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) can result in freeze burns.  Grabbing a cold handle on a truck door after it has been sitting in sub-zero weather can do this, too.
  • Extreme Heat is most often encountered with hot lighting equipment which can burn you and/or raise blisters that will take a while to heal. The nozzle ends of heat guns used for accelerated paint stripping / drying or activating heat-shrinkable tubing can also be hazardous, as can soldiering irons.  Welding can expose your skin to both high intensity UV rays which can result in sunburn-like skin irritation, as well as the more common burns from molten metal spatter.  Synthetic glove materials (rubbers and plastics) can melt when exposed to extreme heat, so using cloth or leather type products typically are a better choice if you don’t like the feel of molten plastic on your skin.
There are additional ANSI / IESA ratings for Heat Degradation Resistance (melting), Conductive Heat Resistance, and Conductive Cold Resistance.

Chemical Exposure creates two additional categories of ANSI / IESA ratings:
  • Chemical Permeation is when the glove may be porous or absorbent to the chemicals you are using and do not create a protective shield between you and the exposure chemical.  Open weave fabrics (natural or synthetic) may be comfortable to wear because they breathe well, but fluids can flow right through them.  Leather may offer a bit of protection as most fluids don’t soak through them rapidly, but they will saturate and allow undesirable chemicals to come in contact with your skin.
  • Chemical Degradation is when the gloves disintegrate or otherwise decompose due to a chemical reaction with the chemicals they are exposed to. It is ALWAYS a good idea to dip test the glove (without a hand inside it) you are considering using to see how it reacts BEFORE you put on the glove and use it.
Melted Gloves - That could be your skin!
If a glove has a leak or gets torn, then the chemicals can get inside the glove and be forced tightly against your skin.  This is where the tear, puncture, and cut resistance can become very important.   Know before you go!

If you have questions about the compatibility between a glove material and a chemical, then look at the Chemrest Chemical Resistant Glove site at:   They have an interactive tool that shows you the best type of glove materials for use with many common chemicals.

Vibration Exposure can happen when you are using an orbital sander, reciprocating saw (hand-held jig-saw), or hammer-drill. These types of protective gloves have special vibration energy damping pads built into the palms of the glove to minimize the mechanical energy transferred to your hands. Prolonged exposure to excessive vibration can cause nerve numbness (tingling sensation or ‘dullness’) and even permanent nerve damage.

Electrical Contact can be deadly, so the electrical insulation factor is an important consideration when working around live electrical items.  Of course working ‘hot’ requires special permits, so unless you are a fully qualified electrical worker, please make sure that you power-off and/or unplug equipment before you attempt even the most basic of repairs.

Gloves with Grippy Dots
Traction - Getting a Grip can be important for many tasks around the workplace, so having gloves with a rubberized or tacky palm and fingers can actually reduce your end-of the day fatigue.  These gloves give you a little extra traction so that you are less likely to be fumble-fingers and drop things (particularly on your feet!).  This can speed the loading and unloading of trucks, too.

Snagability - Not Getting Caught-Up in Things can be a real safety concern.   It is commonly recommended that you should not wear gloves when you are working drills, power saws, planners, and other equipment that might draw your hands into the machine or tool should they get a bit too close. In these cases, it may be better to lose a bit’o flesh than to be sucked into the machine and loose much more.

Keeping the Bugs Out should always be a check list item.  When you leave your gloves laying around the shop or in the bottom of a tool box it is always possible that spiders and mites can set-up house inside them (they like small dark places), so the next time you pull the gloves out to use them, you are instigating a home invasion for those pests and they’ll fight back by biting you.  Keep your gloves someplace clean, dry, and bug-free.  After the sweat dries, store them in a large ziplock bag.

Fingers: Count-em’ 1 to 10!

PPE – Pick the right tool for the job.

(This post first published in TheatreFace Online Blogs)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grounding Versus Bonding - Free Webinar

Grounding Versus Bonding of electrical systems, sensitive electronic, and communications equipment is the most important and least understood activity in the electrical, data process, and communications industry.

Webinar is at: Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 2:30PM US Eastern Time (UCT -5 hours)

In this 60-minute FREE webinar, Mike Holt of Mike Holt Enterprises, Inc. will explain the purpose of grounding and bonding as related to the most current requirements set forth in the 2011 NEC (NFPA 70). Full color graphics and practical examples of typical electrical installations will help attendees learn the concepts necessary to safely design, install, and inspect electrical systems rated 600V or less.

This workshop is brought to you by EC&M magazine ( and Fluke test equipment (

Registration for this event is at:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Working At Height is a Complex Issue

Event Industry News published an interesting article about Working at Height.  This is something that is almost always required during the mounting, running, and strike of most events.  However, the definition of what ‘working at height’ actually is should serve as a reminder to organizers of the important role played by event safety consultants.  Sadly, most events in North and South America don't have independent oversight of personnel safety, they tend to lump the task in with the event security work and fail to see the difference between the two roles. No show is so important that workers should ever be put at risk, yet they are routinely asked, nay, TOLD to do things that place riggers and ground crews unnecessarily in danger of injuries, or worse.

Chris Hannam from the UK safety consultant firm Stagesafe says that some of the myths surrounding health and safety are absurd, often sensationalized by the media and driven not by the UK Health and Safety Executive, but by insurance companies.  He says that it’s important not to be mislead by incorrect health and safety myths, but instead to keep things simple and read the correct guidance.  In his column, Chris provides the essential guidance for event professionals when working at height.

Safety involves equipment, the surfaces it will be operated upon, and the personnel performing the work.  His article can be found here:

An OSHA Fast Facts bulletin on the subject can be downloaded here as a PDF:

An OSHA QuickTake on the subject can be found here:

OSHAAcademy Online Fall Protection Training Course #714:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Weather Resources and Electrical Safety Dominate PLASA Protocol

The spring 2012 issue of PLASA's Protocol magazine has an article about weather observing tools written by John Huntington.  The article "Weather Resources for Show Crews" discusses a very important issue in light of the numerous recent weather-related show accidents over the past few years.  John is an avid weather-watcher and is well-versed in meteorology and how it can affect outdoor shows.

Other article of interest include Keith Bohn's “Tips for a Safe Outdoor Concert Season.”  The article discusses the planning and management of of outdoor event structures and the considerations for weather-related loading.  A nice tie-in to John Huntington's article.

Electrical safety is addressed by Richard Cadena in his Shadow, Light, and Truth column.  His article “Grounding and Bonding Portable Generators and Stages" should be read by all that are involved in show production lest you become a victim of another person's mistakes.  In a related article, he offers-up a brain-teaser about using three-phase power generators in a single-phase configuration.  Just how much power can it really deliver?

All this can be found at:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

PLASA Rigging Conference 2012

PLASA Rigging Conference 2012, Monday and Tuesday, September 10-11, at Earls Court, London, England.  This will occur in conjunction with the 2012 PLASA event running concurrently Sunday through Wednesday September 9 through 12.

The conference is unique in being the only annual meeting of its size dedicated solely to the rigging community. It brings together practitioners, managers, engineers, safety professionals and policy makers to exchange information and inspire new research, curriculum building and professional development. Over 200 delegates from 30 countries are expected to take part this year so there is no better place to come together with your peers from the global rigging community.

The key-note speaker this year is Roy Bickel.  He was the first rigger in the United States to undertake large arena tours. He started performing and rigging in an amateur circus in Florida in the late 1950's. He worked as a professional circus performer for several years as Roy Zacchini 'The Human Cannonball', and as a trapeze flyer and catcher, trampoline artiste and rigger.

Roy was the first 'Disney Rigger' for a new tour called 'Disney on Parade' in 1969. The 'Disney Riggers' were a small group of riggers with a huge reputation who were responsible for advancing what was at the time the largest touring arena show attempted.

From there he spent a few years working on Broadway shows and in 1975 started touring large scale rock and roll tours and was also the production rigger for the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid.

Many of the practices used in entertainment rigging today were introduced by Roy, the idea of using color-coded fixed length rigging steels was one such advance from the traditional rolling hitch methods of the past.

Now, 50 years later, Roy is still rigging conventions, tours and corporate events. Roy will open the conference, sharing experiences of the challenges of rigging in arenas in the 60's and 70's and his continuing work in early concert touring. Roy will give us insights into the reasons behind many of the techniques that riggers starting out in the industry today take for granted, including the inverted hoist, the basket technique and other familiar methods of rigging.

Riggers' Forum

The Riggers' Forum will take place once again on the afternoon of Sunday, September 9th, and is aimed at riggers who may not be able to attend the full 2-day conference but would still like the opportunity to get together with their peers to discuss issues affecting their daily working lives.

The afternoon will begin with a main presentation, followed by an open-floor discussion with a panel of experts, centering on the issues you wish to discuss. Questions can be emailed in advance or asked on the day.

 The 2-day international event creates an annual opportunity for the global rigging community to discuss ideas, for the appraisal of new developments and to review progress of initiatives and projects. In 2011, the combined muscle of industry heavyweights, manufacturers, engineers and safety professionals challenged accepted thinking and dispelled several industry myths. This year will again provide an occasion to debate issues and continue the process of developing this still relatively new industry sector.

For more Information visit:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

NAAFED Performing Rigging Workshop

The North American Association of Flying Effects Directors (NAAFED) will hold its Performer Rigging Workshop from May 22 to 25, 2012 at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.

USITT members, ETCP Certified Riggers, IATSE, CITT, EdTA, AEA, PLASA members, and students receive a $50 discount on the $600 workshop costs. Students are allowed to use both discounts.

The workshop is designed for all ages and skill levels.  Practical application will follow lecture-based presentations to provide attendees with the opportunity to practice the theories learned.  Participants will be exposed to the basics of good theatrical rigging practices, as well as hands-on exposure to a wide variety of performer rigging systems.  By the end of this workshop, a participant who arrived with basic theatrical knowledge should be able to recognize unsafe rigging conditions, converse fluently with a flying effects rigger, efficiently assist with the installation of a flying effects system, and operate a flying effects system for a production.

Instructor Tracy Nunnally is an ETCP Certified Rigger - Arena and Theatre (one of only 35 ETCP recognized trainers), head of the design and technology program at the NIU School of Theatre and Dance, and president of Hall Associates Flying Effects.

For more information, e-mail:, call 888-359-4255 or visit