5 Steps to Backstage Safety
1. Train All Users
Anyone using moving equipment backstage must be properly trained about the equipment’s purpose and proper operation. Untrained users cause many more accidents than faulty equipment. Free operating manuals and signs about proper usage of stage rigging equipment are available.
2. Choose Motorized Rigging
A range of motorized rigging options are available today, for a variety of applications and budgets. Winches lift the complete load simply and reliably without need for counterbalancing the load with steel weights. Scenery movements can be controlled by an automated system that can record and replay movements as needed.
3. Use Loading Gallery (Bridge)
Every counterweight system requires a loading gallery, or bridge, so loads can be added to or removed from the “batten” at floor level – when the counterweight arbor is at its highest level. To balance the batten’s load, weight is added to or removed from the counterweight arbor. Without using a loading gallery, it’s difficult to safely balance rigging sets.
4. Prevent Dangerous Runaways
Out-of-balance head blocks are available with mechanisms that will sense the head block speed and engage a brake in an overspeed situation. This will stop the motion of the line set and help to eliminate “run-away” situations and avoid major damage or injury. Out-of-balance head blocks will not solve the problems created by no loading gallery and they are not a substitute for proper training.
5. Inspect Annually
Your stage rigging system should be inspected annually by a rigging specialist who is an ETCP Certified Rigger. The Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) is an industry-wide program administered by PLASA (plasa.org). PLASA members meet specific requirements and adhere to a Code of Conduct.