Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ZERO Excuses - Campaign for Hand Safety

Looking back at the shows I've done and the poor choices I've made about PPE over my life, I'd have to say that getting a 3" (75mm) long wood splinter jammed into my hand had to be one of the most painful experiences I've encountered.  The wood shard entered the mid-palm of my hand and traveled under the skin up into my wrist.  Ouch! doesn't begin to describe it.

It happened one day when I was unloading some plywood sheathing from a van.  I had to go to the emergency room, miss the show, and then be interrogated by my employer about the unexpected medical bill he received.  Luckily, the plywood was mostly new and had not been too abused, so it was mostly one big clean skewer that broke-off in my body.  Had the plywood been covered with paint, old and softened due to regular abuse, it might have shattered into many dirty and chemically contaminated splinters.  Lucky me.

A special web site has been set-up by EHS Today magazine and one of their advertisers.  The site has numerous articles and downloads, and will be growing it's content, so check-back in regularly.

The theatre work environment is a very hazardous place, and we continually put our hands at risk:
  • Stage rigging has heavy counterweights to handle, ropes to pull, and wire rope ends that may not be properly seized.
  • Stage Lighting Instruments can be very hot and burn you.
  • Moving platforms and wood can expose you to splinters.
  • Metal parts can have sharp edges.
  • Dry Ice used for atmospheric effects can super-cool your skin and kill it (ice burns).
  • Shop chemicals can burn the skin or accelerate the development of skin diseases / cancers.
  • Even non-hazardous grime can be a real problem to clean-off, so stains can last for weeks.
Who knows what might be behind that platform frame when you reach around it to lift it . . .
Nail points?  Splinters?  Spiders?
 Just remember to remove your gloves when working with rotary power tools like planners, lathes, drills, saws, grinders, and sanders - should your glove fabric get snagged in the tool, it can draw your hand or body into the device as it gets entangled.

An often overlooked consideration about gloves in scene shops is the sanitary aspect of shared tools.  DON'T SHARE YOUR GLOVES.  They are sweaty, grimy, fabrics that harbor germs and skin diseases.  Mark your gloves with your name so they are easily identifiable.  Change your gloves frequently.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Arbor Day - The Last Friday Before May!

Annual  -- To do something EVERY year.  Rigging Inspections should come to mind, and although 'Arbor Day' is intended to be the day we all plant a tree, or three, it should also be a reminder that the counterweight carriages (aka: 'Arbors') in our stage rigging need love, too.

We want to look over your equipment and make sure that everything is in proper order.
  • Nuts are tight.  The top and bottom rod nuts should both be checked to ensure that they are properly clamping the top and bottom arbor frames.
  • The rods and back-bone are straight.
  • Each cable and rope is properly secured.
  • The guide shoes are clean and properly fitted to the guide rails.
  • Spreader plates are spaced-along the length of the weight stack and not buried at the bottom.
  • Weight locks are present, and have screws in them to allow them to be tightened-down so they can hold the counterweights from jumping out of the arbor frame in the event of a run-away and crash.
  • Take the time to enumerate the arbors so they are easily identifiable regardless of what level they are positioned.
  • Check to see if anyone has maybe added extraneous weights to the system . . .
  • There are many more things to check as a part of the rigging system, so this wasn't a complete list.

    Remember: People are the most dangerous things in the theatre, so make sure that each person using the rigging system understands how to handle the weights, are secure so they can't fall over the weight loading railing, and they fully understand about using spreader plates, rope locks, and weight locking collars.  Using the tools you have properly can save lives!

    KEEP THOSE ARBORS BALANCED (also referred to as: "In weight").  Train your crews to pace their work so that the fly crew (loading bridge crew) can keep-up with the ground crew that may be loading or striping a batten.  Out of balance systems can lead to run-aways, and that can really rack-up a system:

    Friday, April 19, 2013

    OSHA Campaigns for Ladder Safety

    The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration unveiled a new bilingual English-Spanish booklet, "Falling Off Ladders Can Kill: Use Them Safely."  The short guide, part of OSHA's national campaign to prevent fatal falls — the leading cause of  death  in construction — provides clear, easy-to-follow information about ladder hazards and how to use ladders safely, featuring illustrations and plain language writing.  The falls prevention campaign now enters its second year and OSHA is working with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Occupational Research Agenda on outreach.

    You can download the booklet here:  www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3625.pdf

    Don't be 'that guy' !
    Follow-up:  Janet Sellery at Sellery Health + Safety in Canada sent me the following picture.  She commented that you'd think that just maybe this guy had access to a taller ladder, or maybe scissor lift, or  . . .

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    PLASA Technical Standards Now Available for FREE

    2013-04-15 - The Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA) is thrilled to announce that all PLASA Technical Standards are now available for free download, thanks to a new alliance with ProSight Specialty InsurancePLASA partnered with ProSight because they share in PLASA’s commitment to making sure that everyone who attends or works on an entertainment event, from a live show to a film shoot, goes home safely at the end of the day. This collaboration significantly impacts the industry by allowing those involved in the creation of entertainment events free access to standards that will make their lives safer and easier.

    ProSight, a global specialty insurance carrier in the film and live events industry, also recognizes the skill and professionalism associated with the Entertainment Technician Certification Program and therefore offers preferred rates on insurance solutions to companies who employ ETCP Certified Technicians. To learn more about how PLASA and ProSight are working together, visit plasa.prosightspecialty.com

    PLASA’s Technical Standards are created to protect lives, prevent accidents, save money, solve problems and encourage creativity. With that in mind, ProSight and PLASA are developing and sharing strategies to reduce risk across many areas of the entertainment industry and promote public safety.

    To immediately start downloading your free Technical Standards, visit http://tsp.plasa.org/tsp/documents/published_docs.php.

    Now you have no excuses for not having and using the standards.

    Get 'em.  Read 'em.  Use 'em.

    Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    A Blogger Rants on Fall Protection

    Fellow blogger and lighting guru, Jim Hutchison, over at Jim On Light went (appropriately) ballistic over the recent death of another show worker, and he vented via his keyboard about it.  Jim's words are excellent and truly 'Words you can live by'.  Check it out:

    206 Reasons to wear your fall protection gear

    Saturday, April 6, 2013

    Arena Rigger fails to clip-in and falls 100 feet

    Friday, April 5, 2013 - San Antonio. Texas.  A high steel rigger fell to his death at the AT&T Center Arena while striking a show at 2:00 AM.  Witnesses said he had detached himself  from the fall safety line while repositioning himself and lost his footing while moving around a beam.  A late load-out can be dangerous as fatigue can play a factor in clarity of thought and situational awareness. 

    The rigger was identified as Dean Williams, 44, from Houston, Texas.  He leaves behind a wife and 3  month old daughter.

    Accidents like this can be avoided if you wear a dual (twin) lanyard tie-off :
    (courtesy of North Safety)

    If this is not convenient, then you might consider using a dual retractable fall arrestor like this:
    (courtesy of UltraSafe)

    Either style works well and  can provide good maneuverability while being tied-off.  Always have a rescue plan when working at height.  Hanging in a fall protection harness for even a short period of times can result in suspension trauma if you cannot relieve the pressure on your thighs from the harness straps.

    Climb Safe
    Come Home
    Update:  A Memorial Fund has been established for the benefit of Dean's widow and daughter - pitch in what you can!

    Fire and Audience Safety in Nightclubs

    I went to a nightclub / restaurant tonight to get a bite to eat, and they had me seated upstairs in a balcony area that overlooked the main level of the nightclub.  Just as I was getting ready to leave, I went to go down the staircase that I had originally come-up, only to find that it was blocked with a portable sign that read:  "Stairs Closed" hand-scrawled in chalk.

    There were no other instructions, signs, arrows . . . nuttin!  And the  EXIT  sign above the 'closed' stairs was still illuminated, beckoning all to "come-hither".

    I look over the railing back towards the bottom of the staircase, and I see that the club has cordoned-off what was the main entrance to the club, and a band is loading-in their stuff.  The usual junk is piled every which-way: drums, speakers, guitars, mic stands, road cases . . .

    Huh?  I look again, a sure enough, my eyes are not fooling me, they have removed the host stand and they are using the main entrance to the club as the stageI can see the glowing red  EXIT  signs over the doors.  I look around upstairs and I do find another exit, although it's not well-marked. So this means that 1/2 the upper balcony audience may have to go down the other stairs, and 1/2 may have to find their way out through the adjacent bar area (again - the  EXIT  sign in the adjacent bar area is NOT visible from the show room balcony seating area).
    Band Set-up in front of EXITs

    Next, I go downstairs to get a better look.  Once there, I see that at the bottom of the 'closed' staircase (which ended right at one of the two front doors), they had amplifiers and junk stacked in the travel path.  So I look around some more.  To the other side of the other main entrance / exit door there was a doorway that went into a souvenir shop at the time I came in to dine.  The souvenir shop had another exit door to the street, but now it was closed-off and inaccessible.  I moved away from the band's makeshift performance area and I found a passage out to anther adjacent part of the bar, it has an  EXIT  sign, but the lamps are burned-out, and the passage is circuitous and poorly illuminated.

    I follow that passage into the adjacent bar chamber, and I can see two possible egress routes.  One has a vestibule with another door leading to the outside, but the  EXIT  sign for this door is only visible to about 1/2 of the room, or less.  I walk closer to this exit door and gradually the overhanging soffit that forms the vestibule area around the door reveals that there is an  EXIT  sign above the door.  Mystery solved!

    Final count:  One functional exterior EXIT from upstairs (sign not visible from the balcony audience area), Two functional exterior EXITS from downstairs (one of which the sign is mostly obscured, neither of which are visible from the central audience area for the make-shift stage).

    This means that a space that had SIX exits during the day (a light density crowd, mostly people dining) when the Fire Marshal visited and there was a lot of outside light filling the space through the windows; and only had THREE working exits at  night  when the patrons are highly inebriated and more densely packed.   All this on a Friday night in a college town . . .

    Thursday, April 4, 2013

    Fan injured by unsecured canon equipment sues promotor

    William Mueller Jr. sued Live Nation and others, in St. Louis County Circuit Court in March 2013.  Mueller claims he suffered injuries to his groin and upper thigh and suffered pain, mental distress, and temporary loss of consortium (see below).  Mueller says he attended the KISS concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on August 27, 2012 when a cannon was discharged during the band's final song.
    Live Nation Logo
    He claims he was standing at his assigned seat when the cannon "exploded and with great force launched a metal ratchet tie-down strap" that hit him.  "(P)rior to this incident plaintiff had been diagnosed with a rare brain cancer (Esthesioneuroblastoma) and had experienced major surgeries and intense radiation therapy," he says in the complaint. "At the time of his injury, plaintiff's body was in a weakened and vulnerable condition.  Defendants owed to plaintiff the duty to exercise the highest degree of care for his safety.  [The] Defendants actions, conduct, or omissions were negligent, negligent per se, or both and were not those of a reasonably prudent person."

    While the band KISS is known for outrages theatrical performances from raised platforms amidst fireballs, canons, smoke machines, and pyrotechnics, it would be reasonable to assume as an attendee of the concert that there would be precautions taken to ensure the audiences' safety.

    Mueller seeks actual and punitive damages for negligence.  He is represented by David Diamond of St. Peters, Missouri.

    The band KISS is not a party to the complaint.  The defendants are Contemporary Group Acquisition, Live Nation Worldwide, Live Nation Entertainment, All Access Staging & Productions, and Live Nation general manager Leslie Ramsey.


    Loss of consortium is a legal principle that awards monetary compensation for the damages that an individual had to suffer because of family member being injured or for being deprived of a normal family relationship. Damages can mean the loss of love, emotional relations and other services offered by a family member or spouse, if he/she had not been injured. The injury may also have occurred because of assault and battery, wrongful death, false imprisonment, medical malpractice, negligence, sale of addictive drugs and the like.

    According to the loss of consortium definition, the basis for awarding these damages is simply the inconvenience of having an injured spouse. This can also be when this injury or act has a devastating effect upon the individual filing the consortium lawsuit or if the injury can directly affect the individual’s personality such as getting depressed or general unpleasantness.

    The term consortium encompasses a wide variety of meanings to include all the benefits that a person receives from another family member such as affection, companionship, cooperation, and financial support.