Posts

The Weekly “Dodgy Technicians” Facebook Group on JimOnLight!

I’m very excited to announce that JimOnLight is going to feature a weekly post of some of the scariest, most unbelievable photos of dodgy work done by people in our business.  In cooperation with Andy and Chris from the Dodgy Technicians group on Facebook, JimOnLight will be hosting some of these very crazy photos for your enjoyment, fright, and entertainment — hopefully this will also force people to do better work, because — well, who in their right minds wants to become famous this way?!

Ladies and gentlemen, here are some really Dodgy photos!  Can you spot the epic fails?!  Click on each photo for a larger version, maybe it will help you spot the disaster either in progress or waiting to happen!

hanging-by-safety-chains

I call this piece “Hanging Just By Safety Cables.”

ladder-platform

No, no, standing a ladder on a sheet of plywood is perfectly safe. I hope the ATV’s parking brake is on!

tree-power

What the double what?!

crane-tipped-over

I’m sure that the crane operator was sober.

singapore-ladder-wire

Welcome to Faces of Death the Game Show! Would you prefer falling, electrocution, or a combination of both?

ground-stake

Sometimes even my big mouth has nothing to say. Wow.

chair-standing

What, was the ladder really THAT inconvenient?!

duct-tape-tieline

Nah, that won’t lead to tape residue at all.

oops-forgot-the-cover

I have nothing but sympathy for this tech — the first time I ever soldered a 19-pin socapex connector, I forgot to add half of the casing hardware. I actually cried!

wavefront-fest-chicago

Click on this one, check it out full-size. There are sticks of truss that are TRUCK-STRAPPED TOGETHER and TO THE ROOF.

We’ll be back next week with another installment of Dodgy Technicians on JimOnLight!  Make sure to visit Dodgy Technicians on Facebook for daily entertainment of the ridiculous kind!

 

Workplace Safety in Our Industry — An Awesome Primer from Sound Prospects

Another day, another reminder of how careful we all have to be when we’re out there defying the laws of reality:

indiana-state-fair-collapse-falling

It’s no secret in our business that there are people out doing shows RIGHT NOW that should not be doing work, and companies that are one disaster from screwing up our peace and serenity with their incompetence.  There are also a lot of people out there who have never had their hands on a piece of equipment but feel qualified to give the rest of us advice on how to do things.

The opposite of the two aforementioned groups are folks like the ones at Sound Prospects in Switzerland; Sound Prospects recently wrote a great piece on workplace safety, and I needed to cross-post that article so people hear the safety chant from people OTHER than myself, Erich Friend at Teqniqal Systems (and the awesome Theatre Safety Blog), Richard Cadena from PLASA and the Academy of Production Technology, among other people chanting the Gregorian chant of survival in our business.

Please check out the article at Sound Prospects, written by Alex Schoenknecht.  I recommend also checking out some of Alex’s other articles! — a few highlights from the Workplace Safety article:

Most Common Rigging Mistakes

1.) Unrated Hardware

It is essential that the Safe Working Load (SWL) of all components in a system is known and that the Safe Working Load for the weakest component is not exceeded. Hardware that does not have the SWL clearly forged into it is a “wild card”. Most industrial applications work on a SWL of 5:1. A component that will fail under a load of 5000 lbs. that is given a safety factor of 5:1 has an SWL of 1000 lbs. In the entertainment industry an SWL of 8:1 is the accepted standard.

2.) Incomplete Installation

Even though a component may have a sufficient SWL rating, it becomes a liability if it is not installed correctly. Installations should be neat and clean with hardware properly terminated. An installation that is neat and orderly allows for easier inspections and ensures that the forces on components, such as pulleys, are within the equipment’s design limits.

3.) Damaged Equipment

A piece of damaged equipment becomes the weak link and a liability to the system as a whole. Damaged components must be replaced immediately with ones that are of equal or greater rating. Replacing a broken part, even temporarily, with a substandard piece is putting the integrity of the system at risk.

4.) Wear and Tear

Even the best of systems wear out. This is why it is essential for maintenance to be an ongoing process. Most Countries require yearly inspections of all hoisting equipment. The owner must keep a maintenance and repair log. Since we are often lifting over head the operator must be aware of any changes in how the system is running and investigate the cause immediately to ensure that safe operation is not compromised.

5.) Improper Use

Using equipment for purposes that it was not designed for, or modifying equipment for other purposes, can easily result in overloading and failure. Many components also have strict guidelines as to how and where they should be used by the manufacturer. For example Spectrum 3 proof coil chain is suitable for suspending stationary loads, but if the load will be moving a Spectrum 8 chain is required. It is important to ensure that the components are appropriate for the application.

Thanks for the great article, Alex!

Stage Doesn’t Collapse – But It Could Have

In this time of year when everybody is having some sort of fair and providing entertainment, we’ve come to expect to see accidents. Well, I’m very happy to report that in this case, there wasn’t an accident. The potential for one was clearly there – between poor staging and the possibility for bad weather – but this time somebody used their smarts and made the right choice!

This particular event was actually last week, but some more details have been released since then. I’m certain that you’ll be surprised to see who actually made the decision in this. So, I won’t keep you any longer.

In a message from Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo:

A MESSAGE FROM PAT AND SPYDER REGARDING THE POSTPONEMENT OF OUR CITRUS COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS SHOW

To clear up what happened tonight and to put to rest any and all rumors…

Deborah Nader, the promoter for the Citrus Fairgrounds charity fundraiser show, failed to meet the contractual obligations for safety.

Our crew arrived first thing this morning to find substandard staging and unsafe conditions…and Nader was nowhere to be found until approximately 3pm!

Despite the repeated attempts of our representatives insisting that the infrastructure of the stage be fixed, by approximately 5pm the situation was still not resolved and it was deemed not safe to put one single piece of our equipment on that stage. We even had an independent structural engineer called in to assess the situation. He concluded that the stage was indeed unsafe and required that it be “modified” before anyone would be permitted to perform on it.

Read their message in its entirety here.

Pat and Spyder also released some photos to the Celebrity Examiner of the substandard staging with this statement:

Neil and I regret that we had to postpone last Friday night’s show in Florida. The safety of our fans, crew, and band must always come first. With the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair a few years ago, staging and production requirements are at an all-time high. The production and staging requirements were unacceptable. There simply was no option. We apologize to everyone who came to see us. But safety is paramount. We are working to reschedule the performance. In the meantime, all monies have been set aside until the show can be played. Thank you to all who support these three great charities.

Under stage bracings Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

Under stage bracings
Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

Photo of Stage at WalkerFest in Florida Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

Photo of Stage at WalkerFest in Florida
Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

You can read the entirety of the Celebrity Examiner’s report here.

Thankfully, this time around we can all breathe a sigh of relief and hopefully learn something more from this non-event.

Thanks to Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo and to the Celebrity Examiner!

A Grim Reminder of the Latest Deaths in Our Beloved Industry Before Summer Work Kicks Off

indiana-state-fair-collapse-falling

HEY!  YOU! 

You there, with the rigging bag.

You there, with the crescent wrench and fearless attitude.

You there, sporting the “supervisor” face but looking at your cell phone when motors are moving.

You there, new guy and new girl, who are googly-eyed at the awesomeness but should be watching their own backs and paying attention to the work.

The summer season of outdoor music and theatre has started, and no matter if you’re doing corporate shows, theatre, music, or art production, this post needs to serve as a reminder.  Along with orgs like PLASA and the Event Safety Alliance, JimOnLight.com is doing everything they can to NOT have a summer like the last few we’ve had – and what I can do is provide a reminder of the hell that we as an industry have seen, not to mention the families of those killed in these accidents and disasters lately.  If I might reiterate, what we do is entertainment; it may pay the bills, but if you see something less than safe happening or took place in putting something together that you might not feel 100% about once it was finished, SPEAK UP NOW!

YOUR DUTY:  It is your duty to the safety of others and your own personal safety to keep your head in the game once you are onsite.  This includes WEATHER concerns, Safety concerns,

To address an email I got from a guy out there who prefers to remain anonymous out there, who asked me what would happen if a person got fired for refusing to do something unsafe.  My response was something along the lines of:

  1. You are probably working for a company that is a time bomb of fail waiting to happen — don’t be the fuse, and don’t feel bad about not wanting to die at work.
  2. Regardless of Fact #1, you should probably consult an attorney before you go thermonuclear.  Most attorneys do so for free.
  3. Call people like OSHA, PLASA, USITT, anyone you can think of if something shady is going on.  So you lose your job – don’t for a second think that the industry won’t be behind you for saving lives.
  4. You can file unemployment in a case like that – a company doing shady safety work will sooner than later be discovered, it would not be in their interest to fight your claim.  But, your mileage may vary, and frankly, some people have better luck than others in life at these things.
  5. Feel good that you aren’t in that situation anymore, and get right back out there and find another gig if you lose yours.  Do the right thing.  Having deaths on your conscience is good for no human, no matter how little of a part you played in the process.

That’s my opinion, anyway.  That’s what I’d do.  An industry that won’t take care of people who keep it safe is not an industry anyone should participate in, regardless of the possible profits.  Money is less valuable than lives.

Here’s a reminder of sacrifices have been made to further the standardization of safety in our business – please forgive me if I overlooked one close to you, all you have to do is email me and I will append this post.

APRIL 5, 2013: 
RIGGERS, TAKE HEED:  Houston Dean Williams slipped and fell to the stage floor while moving around a beam in San Antonio at the AT&T Center.

RIGGERS-NOT-SKYDIVERS

MAY 6, 2013:
A man was killed when a PA stack fell on him
at a protest rally in Moscow.

russia-man-killed-protest

APRIL 17, 2013:
Boston Marathon Bombings claim the lives of three marathongoers, wounding several dozens.  Let’s not forget, this was at an entertainment function.

Boston Marathon Explosions TOPIX

March 15, 2013:
A video wall came apart and fell on stage hands
in Miami for Ultra Music Festival.  No one killed, fortunately, but several people were hurt.

ultra-music-festival-accident

June 16, 2012:
1 dead, 3 wounded at a Radiohead concert in Toronto, Ontario
.

radiohead-stage-collapse-toronto

December 15, 2011:
1 person was killed and 8 people injured when truss collapsed
in Trieste, Italy at a Jovanotti concert.

trieste-jovanotti-collapse

August 19, 2011:
5 people killed and 70+ injured when a storm blew over a stage
at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium.

pukkelpop-collapse-5

Perhaps the worst of them all lately…  August 15, 2011:
At the Sugarland show at the Indiana State Fair, a storm blew over an outdoor stage loaded with audio and lighting truss, killing 7 people and injuring 58.

indiana-state-fair-collapse-falling

May 13, 2010:
A young lighting tech in West Palm Beach fell to his death from a catwalk while working on a show.

andy-hollingsworth1.jpg

July 27, 2009:
A Pepsi Battle of the Bands in Guangzhou, China experiences a huge, sudden storm that tips over LED screens and injures several dozen.  Reports of people killed were removed from the web, so I think it’s fair that we can assume several people died in this accident.

pepsi-battle-of-the-bands-accident

July 16, 2009:
At a Marseilles, France tour stop for Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet tour, a stage roof collapsed, killing 2 stage hands involved in the load-in.

madonna-stage-collapse1.jpg

Let’s also never forget the Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake truss collapse in August 2003:

timberlake11.jpg

Just don’t forget.  Also, don’t forget that you are responsible for yourself out there, and when you’re putting equipment together, keep in mind that your diligence will mean the difference between you and others going home on the bus and going home in the ambulance – or even worse, getting a ride home with the coroner.

Be safe out there, Road Warriors!

 

Rigger Dies After 100 Foot Fall at AT&T Center in San Antonio

fall-arrest-harness

Unfortunately, I have to report that a brother fell and was killed at the AT&T Center in San Antonio last night.

From KENS 5 in San Antonio, bolding is mine:

SAN ANTONIO — A crew member working on a catwalk at the AT&T Center fell about 100 feet to his death Friday, said Paul Berry, spokesman for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.

The crew member was working to remove lighting from a recent concert when the accident happened.

Berry said the worker disconnected his safety harness and slipped on a center beam while attempting to reconnect to another safety line.

The worker reportedly landed near the stage where other crew members were working.

The rigger’s name is reported to be Dean Williams, but I’ll make sure to confirm.  I’m so sorry for his family, I’m certain he will be missed.