Prevent Injuries with Annual Rigging Inspections

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When was the last time your rigging was inspected?


American River College

Many technical directors may struggle to remember the last time they had a formal inspection by a qualified professional. In facilities with a lot of staff turnover, the last technical director to schedule an inspection may not have left any record of the event. The most common response we hear to the question above is, “I have no idea.”

Make Plans. If you can’t say for certain how long it’s been since your last inspection, it’s definitely time to get one on the calendar. Inspections are the best way to keep major problems from causing accidents and spoiling productions. Annual inspections can reveal issues before they become problems and shut down your theatre.

In most venues, theatre rigging is last on the list for periodic inspections for one important reason: Until very recently, no building codes, standards or regulations existed that required the system to be checked on a regular basis.

Industry Standards. That changed in 2009, when the Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA) introduced ANSI E1.4- 2009, a set of industry standards for manual counterweight rigging systems. Experts from every aspect of the field—manufacturers, consultants, and end-users—came to the table and reached consensus on the right ways to install, operate, and maintain manual rigging. You can download this standard for free at the ProSight Specialty Insurance website.

Without inspections and preventative maintenance, you may be surprised by a runaway batten, a falling piece of scenery, or 25-pound counterweights flying through the air when an arbor comes crashing down through the locking rail. Injuries from these accidents can be severe or even fatal. You can be held personally liable if a crewmember is injured by a damaged or improperly used rigging system under your roof.

Protect Yourself. It’s up to you to ensure that your theatre rigging is in top working order, both to protect your crewmembers—professionals and volunteers—and to shield yourself and your venue from potential lawsuits.

That’s why J. R. Clancy stepped up to become the founding sponsor of USITT’s Rigging Safety Initiative, to fund inspections of theatre rigging in secondary schools across America. For the cost of the travel and housing for a professional inspector, you can receive a full inspection of your rigging system, plus four hours of training. Visit the USITT website for an application to receive an inspector.

Find Help. If your venue is not a secondary school, J. R. Clancy can help you find a qualified rigging inspector in your area. Call Backstage Service Specialist Anthony Seifritz at (800) 836-1885, or email him at

Counterweight Rigging Inspection from J.R. Clancy

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