What If The Stage Hands Forget To Tighten A Shackle?

What If The Stage Hands Forget To Tighten A Shackle?

CX80 Staging What If 

The last few articles have been burrowing deeper and deeper into the complexities of Risk Assessments, Codes of Practice, Standards and a myriad other technical requirements for stage machines and control systems, so we thought that now might be a good time to take a deep breath and step slowly away from the textbooks to consider a few basic fundamentals that help us all work safely in an environment filled with things that can trap you or crush you and things that can fall on you or that you can fall off.

We’ve discussed at some length certain aspects of designing, specifying and selecting stage machinery and control gear that achieves the highest level of safety that the job can possibly require, but all of this engineering and legislative diligence can be defeated by the most basic acts of ignorance or carelessness.

Let’s assume you’ve carefully done all your risk assessments, decided on the class of hoists to buy and put in a control system that matches the requirements of the hoist and the venue. You’ve rigged a truss from 4 of these hoists, carefully synchronised the hoists and fitted load cells so you’re confident that you can’t bend or tilt the truss, and you’ve then installed an Emergency Stop system so that if something still goes awry, all will be dealt with by hitting the big red and yellow button.

What else could you possibly need to consider now that you have a rig which is safe to operate? All the standards and regulations tell you that you can sleep peacefully, right???

What about when the speaker box hanging from the truss falls off and brains a punter (and of course said punter’s father is a Supreme Court Justice) because nobody thought to check that the shackles on the speaker box rigging were tightened up and moused off?

What about the piece of pipe straddling the gallery, you know, the one that the truss clipped on the way up and came tumbling down to the stage, just missing the diva waiting in the wings for her cue?

What about the stage hand who got caught up in a line and broke his leg, just because the flyman assumed the stage was clear and didn’t bother to shout out “MOVING” before hitting the GO button?

What about the visitor that fell off a gallery because of the loose handrail section – the one that everyone has been complaining about but had just assumed that someone else had reported it to maintenance?

I’m sure that everyone could contribute pages more of examples and war stories about “that time when” - hopefully describing near misses and not anything more serious.

So, some food for thought to finish up for this issue...

Check everything, check it again, and to be safe, check it once more, and never move a load unless you’re certain that it’s been checked by someone who knows what to check.

Observe the load moving – no matter how many times you’ve made the move, something may have changed. If you can’t see what’s going on, put safety spotters where they can see what’s going on and can reach one of those big red and yellow buttons.

Communicate before you operate – make sure you know who is where and that they are aware of what you’re about to move.

Report safety issues to someone that you are confident will deal with the issues. Make sure that there is a system that allows you to report in writing and that the appropriate people get to know about what’s reported in writing so they can deal with the issue.


Jands Staging provide articles to the "Staging What If" section in CX Magazine. If you have any questions regarding this article then please comment below or email info@jands.com.au.

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