Thursday, August 15, 2013

Event Planner fails to recognise crowd motivation risks - 20 injured in mele.

Friday, August 9, 2013 - Event Planners for Korean cell phone manufacturer LG Electronics failed to do a thorough risk analysis for a promotional stunt and twenty people ended-up injured, with seven being sent to the hospital.

It idea was to release helium-filled balloons in an open park, and each balloon would have a voucher that could be redeemed for a new smart phone that was valued at KRW 950,000 Korean Won (~$851 US).  Enthusiastic attendees planned their assaults on the balloons in advance and arrived at the event with sharp sticks, BB Guns, and knives on poles.  The ensuing melee after 100 balloons were launched was a disaster when greed over-took common sense.

"LG Electronics deeply regrets that a number of Korean participants were injured during an outdoor promotional event in Seoul, [South] Korea," a statement from the firm said.

"We can confirm that seven participants were hospitalised and, although none of the injuries were serious, LG takes full responsibility for the unfortunate situation and has offered to cover all related medical expenses.

"LG is investigating the incident to ensure that such an occurrence can be avoided in the future."

The company added that other planned events had been called-off because of concerns for attendees safety.

One regional TV channel has dubbed the event "World War G" - a comparison to the film World War Z in which zombies scramble over each other to climb over a wall.  The new phone is a model G2.

Phone:  Smart.
Event Planner:  Not so smart.

Never underestimate the motivational power of of greed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Another gust of wind up-ends a portable stage

2013-08-12 ~6:00PM - In Germany on the Island of Sylt, a mobile stage with a fold-out apron and pop-up canopy was caught by high winds and flipped on it's side.  No injuries were reported.  It is apparent from the video that there were no anchors employed to keep the stage secured to the ground - the staging company was relying on dumb-luck and gravity to do the job.

Video text translates as:
"On Sunday, about 18 O'clock, a strong gust of wind was recorded at the big event stage the Super Sail event, and it turned-over.  The stage was lying on it's back, there were no casualties. The Westerländer firefighters secured the structure, and salvaged the stage in the hours that followed."

Ocean + Wind-powered Boats = HIGH LIKELIHOOD FOR WIND.  This was foreseeable.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Risk Management for Rigging from ProSoundWeb

Andrew Martin, the originator of ATM Flyware, wrote a good guide for managing your show rigging assets in the March 28, 2013 edition of ProSoundWeb.  The article provides a short overview of Risk Management Guidelines and provides a series of example graphics to show you specific points of concern to watch-out for.
Example of SpanSet / Round Sling Inspection Points
The article can be found here:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Guess what? - OSHA is looking at theatre shop operations

Below is an article published on the Department of Labor's web site:

Trade News Release Banner Image

Region 3 News Release: 13-1492-NEW (osha 13-72)
July 25, 2013
Contact: Leni Fortson      Joanna Hawkins
Phone: 215-861-5102      215-861-5101
Jersey City, NJ, theatrical equipment company cited by US Department of
    Labor's OSHA for exposing workers to workplace safety and health hazards

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Acadia Scenic Inc., which builds scenery for the entertainment industry, with 22 safety and health violations, including two willful. The citations followed an April inspection, prompted by the agency's Health-High-Hazard Top 50 Local Emphasis Program and its Amputations and Combustible Dust Emphasis Program. Proposed penalties total $49,600.
The willful violations, with $28,000 in penalties, were cited for a lack of guarding on hand-fed circular ripsaws and crosscut table saws. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The 19 serious violations, with $21,200 in penalties, include the company's failure to keep the workplace clean and orderly; prevent accumulations of explosive dust; provide railings on stairs; establish or implement a written respiratory protection program for workers required to wear respirators; have fire extinguishers mounted and readily accessible for use; and provide an educational program on the general principles of fire extinguisher use and hazards involved for workers expected to fight incipient stage fires. The company was also cited for failing to provide machine guarding for a miter saw; provide spreaders and nonkickback devices on two hand-fed circular ripsaws; properly adjust a work rest on grinding machinery; determine each employee's exposure to methylene chloride; provide appropriate gloves and eyewash facilities for workers using methylene chloride-containing adhesives; and develop and implement a written hazard communication program that includes training for workers exposed to hazardous chemicals. A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Each of these hazards threaten the company's ability to provide employees with a safe and healthful work environment, and should be corrected immediately," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Office. "OSHA will continue to hold employers responsible when they fail to protect their workers."
Inspectors also cited the company for one other-than-serious violation, which carries a $400 penalty, for not recording a workplace injury on the employer's OSHA Form 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Acadia Scenic Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Parsippany or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's area offices.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wind Gust Topples Stage Canopy in Shelby North Carolina

2013-08-10 - Preparations for an evening concert were disrupted at the end of the sound check for one of the bands as a wind gust from an approaching storm blew the overhead lighting and canopy support trusses over.  A band member from The After had just stepped off of the stage when the structure toppled.  The show was set-up at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds near Shelby, North Carolina.

Picture Tweeted by The Afters
The picture from stage left shows a disturbing lack of safety preparation and recovery efforts.

The band’s opening act, The Afters, was doing a sound check around 3:30 p.m. when the wind picked up and the stage started shaking.

“This storm suddenly came in and suddenly I hear 'get off the stage!'” said The Afters’ lead singer Josh Havens, in a cell phone video shot by MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard.  “And we're running, jumping off the stage.”

MercyMe’s stage manager witnessed the collapse.  Joel Bench is used to setting up and taking down stages – just not like this.

“The wind just picked up, the roof lifted a little bit,” said Bench.  “Then it started tilting and just kind of eased down.”

“Luckily we had people watching and eyes on it, and they started screaming and everybody started running and took off safely,” he said.

Reports from the event tell of lightning in the area which should have caused the stage to have been evacuated long before the collapse occurred.  Lightning strike and weather warning applications for smart phones and dedicated lightning strike monitor tools ( are commonly available and should ALWAYS be monitored, especially if there are visible adverse weather conditions.

John Huntington's ControlGeek site has a thorough run-down on the actual weather conditions:

Brittany Spangler, administrative assistant for the American Legion World Series, said “The World Series officials are all devastated, but in the end, it was safety first for the artists.  We’re sad, but you can’t really stop Mother Nature.  We weren’t aware that the winds were going to get that high.”  Commentary:  The venue should have had a weather service monitoring the local and regional weather.

Fortunately, no one was injured and the scheduled event that was expecting as many as 10,000 2,500 attendees was cancelled.  Hopefully, the event promoters and staging company have learned from this near-miss.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

ISO Signage Directive: Clear Pictograms for Universal Understanding

The British trade group Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting (ICEL, has issued a Technical Statement that clarifies the recent change in Emergency Exit Signage in the UK.  It is excerpted here with additional commentary as it applies to US signage.  Note that the US is moving towards the ISO 'running man' standard for egress signage and the common red or green  EXIT  sign is gradually be replaced in US buildings.

It is not enough that a safety sign can be seen. It is essential that each sign is quickly understood and that an installation of signs quickly and clearly conveys their intention and continues to confirm the message.

Research has identified that the key requirements for an acceptable safety sign are:-
  • Conspicuity:  The capacity of a sign to stand out or be distinguishable from its surroundings and thus be readily discovered by the eye.  It is the noticeable contrast between a sign and its background, attributed to an exogenous (unplanned) or andogenous (planned) mind-set, with the display having features that attract attention to the sign.  Conspicuity is considered a subjective outcome.
  • Visibility:  The physical attributes of a sign and its contents that allow for detection at a given distance, although legibility may be uncertain.  Visibility is considered an objective stimulus.
  • Legibility:  The physical attributes of a sign that allow for differentiation of its letters, words, numbers, or graphics and that directly relate to an observer’s visual acuity.  Legibility is considered an objective stimulus.
  • Understandability:  That which enables the observer to correctly perceive the information content of letters, numbers or symbols grouped together, or other meaningful relationships on the sign.  Understandability is the character of a sign that leads to comprehension of its intended message, and depends on legibility and other considerations of contents and time restraints.  It is considered a subjective outcome.
When considering a design for an effective escape route it is important that the exit path and any potential obstacles are well illuminated (the centre line of any escape route should be lit to a minimum of 1 Lux [the US NFPA 101 Life Safey Code uses a similar, but different standard]) and the route should be marked with well positioned signs that clearly indicate the direction towards a final exit and on to the “place of safety”.

The signs should be positioned so that each sign is always within a readable viewing distance and each sign shall be located so that it is visible to reconfirm the correct route at every intersection or change of direction so that evacuees can move along the escape route quickly and safely.  However, in some environments (public buildings, retail areas, etc.) there may be a great number of sign boards, building furniture and visual obstacles that could confuse evacuees in an emergency.  This is why safety signs must be easily seen and understood and, in today’s multinational society, it is essential that the meaning of signs does not rely on any specific language.

The Legal Situation

Standardization across Europe was one method of increasing a wider understanding of safety signs. Therefore, the European Community (EC) Safety Signs Directive (92/58/EEC) was published and adopted as ‘The Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations’ in England during 1996. This piece of legislation set out simple ‘Pictogram’ sign formats to be used within the European Community.

The Regulations showed the intrinsic features required for emergency escape (egress) signs as being white on green, with pictorial symbols of a running man, a direction arrow and a door.  These intrinsic features avoided the use of words in any of the escape signs and set out escape route guidance by showing the running man with an arrow down for when the escape route went straight on, arrow right for right turns and arrow left for left turns.  The Regulations simplified the vast range of text signs that had previously been used.

The only problem with the EC Safety Signs Directive was that the pictograms supplied were of a different format to those shown in ISO documents and some National Standards such as BS 5499. Here are the three formats currently seen in use in the UK:

In 2011, it was decided by many of the National Standards bodies to consider adoption of a single pictogram format as shown in ISO16069.  The British Standards Institute (BSI) adopted this format in the latest edition of the BS5266:2011 standard, which is considered the ‘de-facto’ emergency lighting standard for the UK.

The members of the Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting (ICEL) recognized that a further change in sign format could cause further confusion within the already confused market and therefore decided to introduce the ICEL Clear Sign Campaign.  It is a UK legal requirement for businesses to conduct risk assessments for fire safety and evacuation and it is of course vital that the emergency escape signs are of a legal format.  The current position includes the following key issues:
  • Text only signs (like the common "EXIT" or "SORTE") are not legal and should have already been replaced.
  • BS5499 Pictogram signs (with or without supplementary text) are legal but should only have been used when expanding an installation already incorporating similar signs.
  • Pictogram only signs with the same format as shown in The Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations / EC Safety Signs Directive (92/58/EEC) are legal but should not be mixed with other sign formats on any installation.
  • From 2012 the new ISO16069 Pictogram signs will also be legal but again should not be mixed with other formats on an installation.
  • The latest proposals do not only identify the ISO16069 sign format, there are also references to ISO 3864-1 and ISO 3864-4 to provide detailed information relating to the safety color and contrast color.
The images above show the different appearance of the ISO Pictogram symbols used in these EXIT signs but the key differences between the Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations / EC Safety Signs Directive (92/58/EEC) pictograms and the ISO 16069 versions include:
  • ‘Straight on’ is depicted by an arrow facing up in ISO 16069 (and in BS 5499) whereas the Safety Signs and Signals Regulations do not state which way the arrow should be used.
  • ISO 16069 allows the use of supplementary information such as diagonal arrows (for stairs up or down) and in certain instances the use of text (e.g. to distinguish between a normal exit that may also be used for escape and an exit that is perhaps intended only for emergencies and may lead to an exit door that is fitted with a security alarm).
Initially, the best advice is to use internally illuminated emergency sign luminaires with the minimum number of sign formats to avoid confusion.

Almost all escape route scenarios can be clearly indicated with the basic ISO 16069 pictogram signs conveying the messages ‘straight on’, ‘go left’, ‘go right’.

The technical features required for these signs are:
  • The luminance of any area of safety color of the sign shall be at least 2 cd/m².
  • Within either the contrast color white or the safety color, the minimum luminance divided by the maximum luminance shall be greater than 0.2.
  • The ratio of the luminance Lcontrast to the luminance Lsafety color shall be not less than 5:1 and not greater than 15:1.
  • Signs shall be illuminated to at least 50% of the required luminance within 5 seconds and full required luminance within 60 seconds (this is significantly different from the US standard where the signs must remain continuously illuminated).
Although these factors can appear to be complicated, the principles are well known by reputable emergency lighting specialists and should be assured by specifying products supplied by ICEL member companies.

However, Local Authorities and Fire Authorities can require new installations to be of either format – EC Safety Signs Directive or ISO 16069 until the situation is resolved by an amendment to the Directive – So check to be sure you are supplying the correct format for your facility.