Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fire Door Safety - the UK Perspective

Reading British books and manuals can be challenging for us in the States - it's like we are two countries separated by a common language.  None-the-less, it can be informative and insightful to see how they do it across the pond.  When it comes to Fire Doors, the British Standards (BS) tend to follow the International ISO standards more closely that we do in the US, where we mostly link to ANSI (albeit, the US ANSI standards are gradually migrating to be aligned with the ISO standards as well).

The Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (that's "Architectural Hardware" in US English) has produced a set of guides that show good examples of Fire Door hardware and the associated signage.  Part 1 provides a general overview of Fire Door purpose and function, and Part 2 delves into the Maintenance required and provides good examples of problems you might look-out for.

You can download these two guide books here:
Part 1 - Overview: & Escape Doors Part 1.pdf
Part 2 - Maintenance: & Escape Doors Part 2.pdf

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Blow This! Littelfuse Publishes Electrical Safety Handbook

Littlefuse, a company long known in the electrical and electronics industries for fast-acting circuit protection devices, has published a 76 page Electrical Safety Hazards Handbook that is free to download as a PDF.

This isn't a simple Do This, Don't Do That pamphlet.  This extensive guide explains the history, physics, body physiology, relevant safety codes, hazard analysis, and offers suggestions about how to minimize exposure to a variety of workplace conditions.  It also includes a chapter on Arc-Flash safety.

Numerous Annex Chapters are provided that cover key Electrical Terminology, Arc-Flash calculations and tables, an example Hot Work Permit for those thinking about risking their lives tinkering with energized circuits and equipment, Electrical Safety Resources (with live links), and much more.

The booklet concludes with an Electrical Safety Quiz and an answer guide for checking your knowledge.

Download your copy here:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hose me down, but not with hydralic fluid

Lock-Out / Tag-Out (LOTO) is probably most commonly thought-of in terms of electrical safety, however, pneumatic, mechanical, gravitational, and hydraulic forces must always be considered, too.  Hydraulic systems in the theatre are uncommon due to the potential mess that can be made when hydraulic fluid leaks from a system.  Non-the-less, the extreme pressure inside of some hydraulic hoses is a potentially lethal source of energy.

Very small cracks or pin-holes can expel hydraulic fluid at extreme velocities, much like a high pressure water sprayer or pneumatic paint gun.  These high velocity fluid jets can not only penetrate the skin and inject hydraulic fluid into your blood stream, they can cut through fabrics (gloves, shirts, pants) and do damage just about anywhere.  If you get sprayed in the eye it can do permanent damage to your cornea, or worse cause total blindless (yet another reason for safety glasses!).

Hydraulic fluid can be hot, which can lead to unnecessary burns; it can be flammable, which can lead to fire hazards; and it can be very slippery, which can lead to slip and fall accidents.

Safe-T-Bleed company has introduced a pressure bleeding manifold valve the facilitates the safe shut-down of hydraulic lines before they are disconnected for service.  The Hydraulic Energy Control Module (HECM) can be used in-line with any system line up to 5000 psi.

The product web site has several pages of good-to-know info about OSHA compliance with hydraulic systems - visit and get your LOTO knowledge up-to-date.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Violinist Dies After Fall Into Orchestra Lift Machinery Pit

2013-07-16 - Moscow, Russia - A 40 year veteran of the Bolshoi Theatre died Wednesday at a Moscow hospital as a result of injuries sustained from a fall into the machinery pit of the Orchestra Lift.  Violinist Viktor Sedov, 65, was found lying on the pit floor about 2:30PM Tuesday when a theatre employee making a routine fire safety round found Sedov lying unconscious on the pit's concrete floor.  He was taken to the Sklifosovsky Hospital where he passed away the following day.

The accident happened in the New Stage venue, one of four venues in the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia complex.  The Main Stage venue had recently gone through significant architectural modifications, and it is suspected that Sedov entered the unlit sub-stage entry platform behind the orchestra lift and stepped out in the darkness to where he believed the Orchestra Lift Platform was positioned.  In the old configuration of the facility the platform was at the same level as the bottom of the pit.  The lift platform was up at a higher level and he plummeted into the machinery pit.  One report says the fall was about 6 meters (19 feet), but this may be the total depth from the stage, and not the depth from the sub-stage entry platform, however, another news report says that he fell from the stage level. Part of the facility reconstruction involved the addition of many levels of subterranean storage and workspaces, so it may be that the Orchestra Lift pit did extend down 6 meters from the substage platform.

On Wednesday, the Bolshoi's press secretary, Katerina Novikova, said the cause of Sedov's death will be determined by a special commission.  A decision regarding further legal action will be made depending on the outcome of the police inquiry into the incident.


In this accident, there are several causal factors to consider:
  • Inadequate illumination of the walking surfaces.
  • Lack of guardrails to protect workers from falls.
  • Lack of interlocks on doors leading to hazardous workspaces.
  • Solo workers in unobserved workspaces.
We can learn from other industries' Best Practices and incorporate those procedures into our daily regimen.  In the sport of SCUBA diving they use the Buddy System - participants NEVER dive by themselves - there is always someone with you nearby that can you rely upon to help you if you need it.  Theatre facilities should have a similar policy.  There are 1000's of scenarios where a single person in a theatre can be injured and not be able to call for help.  If you have a co-worker with you the odds of both person's being incapacitated are significantly reduced.  Simply put:  Don't go into the theatre by yourself!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fire Mars 4th of July at Milwaukee's 100 Year Old Miramar Theatre

An early morning electrical fire in the basement of a theatre turned nightclub was detected by an alert employee while cleaning-up about 2:00AM Thursday, July 4th.  A faulty power receptacle is thought to have been the starting point of the fire which caused more smoke damage than anything else.

“We had an electrical fire in our office basement that basically didn’t burn like flames of fire, but it had heat and just lots of smoke, and we had the whole place filled up with smoke,” said owner William Stace.  Fortunately, no one was injured.  The facility will be closed for business until further notice.  According to Stace's employee, Aaron Ohlsson, the venue is critical to the Milwaukee music scene, and several live music acts that were scheduled for the weekend were looking for other places to perform.

The Miramar Theatre owner, Stace, said that although he was frustrated by the timing, he was glad that the damage was minimal.  Smoke damage clean-up is estimated at around $6,300.  Stace said that due to the 4-day holiday, his insurance agent was unavailable, and that cleaning crews could not start to abate the smoke damage until Monday at the earliest.  Getting the place aired-out was the main priority.  The acrid smell of smoke lingers in the theatre, and soot is everywhere.  In retrospect, he says getting a few days to calm-down and rest will be OK.

Further news are available at:

Information about the venue can be found at:

Side notes:
  • Look carefully in the videos and you can see numerous code violations, so the fire trucks may return unless these issues are resolved.
  • The comment about the whole place "filling up with smoke" is worthy of consideration.  Remember that it was the rapid build-up of smoke at both The Station Night Club and the Kiss Nightclub in Brazil that resulted in numerous deaths.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cirque du Soleil suffers tragic loss of performer during show accident

MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada - Saturday, June 29, 2013.   In a yet-to-be-explained equipment failure, one of the aerial performers in Cirque du Soleil's fell about 50 feet from above the show's massive 3-axis moving stage into the forestage pit during the fight scene at the end of a performance.  The pit is nearly 4 stories deep.  Sarah Guyard-Guillot, 31, mother of two, came loose from her safety cable and disappeared into pit unexpectedly.  The show was halted, the audience informed that they could obtain replacement tickets for a future show, and were dismissed.  The show has been suspended indefinitely pending an investigation into the root cause of the accident.  Guyard-Guillot, mother of two young children, was pronounced dead at a hospital late Saturday night.  It is reported that her safety harness was intact with her costume when she was recovered from the accident site.  She was a trained acrobat and aerialist, originally from Paris, France.  She had performed in the industry for about 22 years.
Sarah Guyard-Guillot  1979-2013

This is the first performance-related death that the troupe has experienced in over 30 years of show production.*  Guyard-Guillot was one of the original performer's in the show when it opened in 2006, and had performed the show since then.

An extremely through and rigorous safety program is entrenched in the companies' culture, so this has been shock to those that work the shows in a tight-knit group.  Cirque's safety managers have been very transparent and informative by sharing their safety culture and knowledge at numerous industry events like the annual USITT convention, LDI convention, and UNSCA's Entertainment Innovation Conference.

The death comes at an unfortunate time for the circus, a reportedly $1 Billion (US) company which employs 5,000 people globally, including 2,000 at its headquarters in Montreal, Canada.  Cirque maintains around 19 touring productions in operation worldwide, yet has recently reduced it's workforce and is trying to reign-in its expenses.

Cirque du Soleil's founder, Guy Laliberté, said in a statement:  "I am heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family. We are all completely devastated with this news.  Sassoon was an artist with the original cast of KÀ since 2006 and has been an integral part of our Cirque du Soleil tight family. We are reminded, with great humility and respect, how extraordinary our artists are each and every night. Our focus now is to support each other as a family. " 

A thorough write-up about this incident can be found at Jim Hutchison's Jim On Light site:

Local news coverage:

* In 2009, a Cirque performer died in Montreal after sustaining head injuries from falling off a trampoline during training. Oleksandr Zhurov, who was 24, hailed from the Ukraine and was known as Sacha. There also have been several injuries during Cirque performances in the last decade. Actors have been hurt during performances of "Zumanity" in Las Vegas, Nevada; "Corteo" in Portland, Oregon; and "La Nouba" in Orlando, Florida.

The same night as the deadly fall during , Cirque's newest show, "Michael Jackson: ONE," held its opening night performance at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. That production experienced its own trouble the previous week.

On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, Cirque reported that an acrobat taking part in one of the final preview performances suffered a mild concussion after slipping through slack rope in the show's "Stranger in Moscow" scene. That performer, who is expected to return to the production, missed a protective pad below the actors and landed hard on the stage.

2013-10-29  - Nevada OSHA has finished its investigation into the death of Sarah Guillot-Guyard, the Cirque du Soleil performer who fell 94 feet during the climactic scene of Ka on June 29, 1013 and later died.  OSHA determined that accident happened when the wire rope she was suspended from broke. According to the report, the wire rope “was severed due to the rapid ascent of the performer, ultimately causing the rope to be freed from the sheave/pulley and scraping against a shear point.”  OSHA officials cited Cirque du Soleil with six proposed citations and more than $25,000 in fines and MGM Grand with three citations and a $7,000 fine.  Cirque du Soleil and MGM are appealing the fines.

One of the citations for Cirque du Soleil includes a failure to “protect or prevent Ka employees from striking an overhead grid during the Ka show at the Ka Theater.” Reporting for the Las Vegas Sun, John Katsilometes wrote that “This matches reports from those familiar with the Ka staging and fatal incident that Guillot-Guyard did hit the metal grid over the stage as she ascended high above the Final Battle scene, which jarred the rope connecting her to her harness.” Katsilometes also reported that Cirque du Soleil will be appealing the fine:

    In a statement that also referenced Cirque’s internal review of the incident, [Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman Rene-Claude Menard] said: “Cirque du Soleil completed an exhaustive review of its safety policies and procedures in the wake of the tragic accident involving Sarah. We have redoubled our efforts to ensure the overall diligence and safety of our performers and crew. We have received and reviewed the OSHA citations. We have initiated the appeal process as part of OSHA’s administrative protocol. Safety always has been the top priority for Cirque du Soleil, its performers and crew members.”

On the KTNV website (, Krista Hostetler listed the citations OSHA has proposed. They are:

Summary of Cited Violations

Cirque du Soleil:
- NRS 618.375 (1): A General Duty Citation was issued because the employer did not protect or prevent KA employees from striking an overhead grid during the KA show at the KA Theater. $7,000 proposed penalty.

- The first part of the General Duty Citation was issued because the employer did not provide proper training for the KA Battle Spearman Warrior employee involved in the accident in the use of equipment and tasks used in the Ka show, battle scene at the KA Theater.

- The second part was issued because the employer had a Fall Protection Program with construction requirements that do not apply to theater settings because the KA Theater is regulated by Nevada OSHA general industry standards. $7,000 proposed penalty.

- 29 CFR 1910.132: This citation was issued because the employer did not properly assess the workplace for hazards that required personal protective equipment at the KA Theater, including opensided floors, bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials, pyrotechnic dust cleanup, and not finalizing a hazard assessment for the performers. $7,000 proposed penalty.

- 29 CFR 1910.132: This citation was issued because the employer did not certify that a workplace hazard assessment had been performed and did not include the date the hazard assessments were conducted. $0 proposed penalty, grouped with the proposed citation above.

29 CFR 1904.32: This citation was issued because the employer did not include on the OSHA Form 300 Log of Injury and Illnesses, the object or substance that directly injured or made a person ill, which prevented a trend analysis and kept the employer from recognizing and conducting employee training involving recurring injuries in accordance with Nevada Revised Statute. $3,300 proposed penalty.

Nevada Revised Statute 618.379: This citation was issued because the employer removed equipment from a fatality site on June 29 before Nevada OSHA authorized the dismantling and removal of the equipment (38 feet of wire rope that was attached to the victim at the time of the accident). $935 proposed penalty.

MGM Grand Hotel & Casino:

- NRS 618.375: This General Duty Citation was issued because MGM Grand employees were exposed to hazards due to deficiencies in the Cirque du Soleil Fall Protection Program with construction requirements that do not apply to theater settings because the KA Theater is regulated by Nevada OSHA general industry standards.

- 29 CFR 1910.132: This citation was issued because MGM Grand employees were exposed to hazards due to the deficiencies in Cirque du Soleil hazard assessments for the KA Theater that included opensided floors, bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials and pyrotechnic dust cleanup. $7,000 proposed penalty.

- 29 CFR 1910.132: This citation was issued because MGM Grand employees were exposed to hazards due to deficiencies in the Cirque du Soleil hazard assessments because Cirque du Soleil did not certify that a workplace hazard assessment had been performed and did not include the date the hazard assessments were conducted. $0 proposed penalty, grouped with the proposed citation above.