THE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER FROM
ARTS, CRAFTS AND THEATER SAFETY (ACTS)
The Blade, April 28, 2006, toledoblade.com or Gary Pakulski: firstname.lastname@example.org
As managers of the Toledo Sports Arena were preparing for the third day of Disney on Ice performances in late January, they got a visit from federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors. OSHA determined that arena employees who did preshow setup work high above the ice surface were not adequately protected from falling. This infraction and other violations identified during follow-up visits (including one on the day of a February concert by the rock act Nine Inch Nails) led OSHA to issue $75,000 in fines against Sports Arena Inc.
The citations, involving one incident classified as willful and six as serious, were issued March 29. But OSHA provided copies to the local newspaper (The Blade) only after the newspaper filed a request under federal open-records laws.
The citations state that workers erecting rigging near the ceiling, 48 feet above the arena floor, did not use required fall-protection on the opening days of the ice show and rock concert. That alone accounted for $63,000 of the fine.
Other citations included failing to provide proper gates and railings for catwalks, failing to provide a proper ladder for workers erecting stage scaffolding for the Nine Inch Nails Concert, and failing to take required measures to ensure that electricity was not inadvertently turned on while employees were replacing light fixtures.
The arena disputes the allegations and managers have asked the agency to reduce or drop the citations and fines. The arena’s attorney said that the alleged incidents occurred as shows were being set up and that audience members and performers were not endangered. He declined further comment saying that it would be inappropriate while discussions with OSHA were being held.
COMMENT: Operators of arenas and theaters often think that OSHA fall protection rules do not apply to them. They are wrong. Operators of older arenas and theaters in particular may need to renovate their catwalks and access ladders to comply with OSHA standards. If the guard rails, cages, and barriers on these items do not meet the OSHA requirements, the workers that use them must be in fall arrest harnesses and lanyards attached to 5000 pound anchorage. The venue also must have a written fall protection program and effective procedures.
We further suggest that arenas and theaters have their riggers certified under the Entertainment Services Technology Association’s new rigging program. ESTA has certification tests for both arena and theatrical rigging. ACTS congratulates ESTA for developing this much-needed program. The first certification tests were given in November of 2005. Riggers should go to www.esta.org for information on how to qualify to take the next exam.