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Lessons from the Indiana State Fair collapsing stage investigation
What to do when you're sick, but the show must go on
Day of Mourning - April 28
Musicians take note: be smart about smartphones
Motion picture industry training agreement under review
Actsafe courses
BC theatre electrical survey winner
Share Actsafe resources

Lessons from the Indiana State Fair collapsing stage investigation

stage constructionDo you have a plan in place that includes who will make the call in the event of an emergency?
In the summer of 2011 a large stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed, killing 7 and injuring 58. This incident was one of a number of similar incidents over the last few years in North America and Europe, including a fatality in Italy on March 5th. While these high profile incidents have been related to outdoor festivals and events, they could just as easily have happened on film locations or large sets.
This past month the Indiana Department of Labor through its agency the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) reported on their findings. They cited 3 organizations as being at fault in the Indiana State Fair collapse: Mid-America Sound Corporation, the State Fair Commission, and IATSE Local 30. 
The most serious violation was issued to Mid-America Sound Corporation, which “was aware of the appropriate requirements and demonstrated a plain indifference to complying with those requirements.”
The State Fair Commission was charged with “failing to have conducted an adequate life safety evaluation and plan prior to the event. The Commission simply did not establish and maintain conditions of work for its employees that were reasonably safe and free from recognized hazards.”
It was also noted that IATSE Local 30 “clearly acted as an employer and failed to take proper safety precautions for employees and failed to take appropriate steps to ensure the load bearing roof was properly secured.” 
Stage collapses, like the one at the Indiana State Fair, raise awareness about the importance of deciding well in advance who is responsible for evacuating the site or cancelling the show in the event of an emergency. Having an emergency response strategy in place is key. An important component of any emergency plan is to identify the individuals who are responsible for making and communicating decisions or responding to issues. Questions to answer and document include: Who makes the call to evacuate? Who calls 911? Who is the health and safety supervisor?
Are you confident that your event or production has an effective emergency response plan in place? Take the time now to review or revisit your plans. Make sure all supervisors and workers are oriented to the plan. Fines and criminal charges aside, the ultimate goal is to make sure that everyone — production team members, artists, audiences and bystanders — is safe in the event of an emergency.  

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stopWhat to do when you're sick, but the show must go on

It’s never fun to go in to work sick, and most doctors would recommend that you go home, recover and stay out of the workplace when illness strikes. Unfortunately, for many who work in theatre and film, taking time off is rarely an option. 
For that reason, preventing the spread of infection and recovering quickly takes extra care and attention in our industries. A local BC theatre’s joint health and safety committee put together a list of recommended practices to ensure a healthy work environment. Here are their suggestions:
Personal Responsibilities
  • Always make sure to cover your mouth when you cough. If you see someone who does not do this, please remind them that this is a very effective means of preventing the spread of germs. 
  • Try coughing into your shoulder or elbow to avoid the spreading of germs through your touch. 
  • Take care to assure proper hand washing techniques and wash your hands often.
  • Dispose of used wipes and tissues in the garbage. Do not leave these around for other people to pick up. 
  • Make sure that your dishes are washed after you use them with warm and soapy water. Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink for someone else to do. 
  • Keep your work area clean and free of clutter. A clean and easy to use work environment is a healthy one. 

Stage Manager Responsibilities
Remember that you are the main point of contact for both the crew and the cast. By encouraging healthy living practices and doing your best to make sure everyone is doing their part; a number of possible infectious situations can be avoided. 
  • Keep an open and positive environment so that if someone is sick, they feel comfortable telling you, so appropriate action is taken.
  • Make it a nightly routine to wipe down all railings, counter tops, and door handles with disinfecting wipes. 
  • Keep disposal gloves and wipes in first aid kits near stage.
  • Consider implementing a ‘no-open-food’ policy when someone on the team is sick. 
  • Recommend that performers at risk of losing their voice take extra care not to speak backstage to help conserve their voices for the performance. 

Crew Responsibilities
  • If possible, arrange to make a microphone available for those who are sick but need to use their voice on stage.
  • Ensure that the temperature is at a comfortable level backstage and in the dressing rooms through proper use of the HVAC systems. If necessary, have some space heaters available for use. 
  • Wear gloves when cleaning up any garbage or touching props that may have been contaminated by someone who is ill.
  • Remember that the theatre is a close, shared space. It is a matter of respect and responsibility to do your part to prevent sickness from spreading.

Actsafe wishes to thank Ace Martens and the Health and Safety Committee at the Arts Club Theatre for their permission to use compiled information within this article.

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Day of Mourning - April 28

Across Canada, April 28 has been designated the Day of Mourning, a time when workers, families, employers, and others come together to remember those who have lost their lives to work-related incidents or occupational diseases.
Every year, WorkSafeBC, the B.C. Federation of Labour, and the Business Council of British Columbia co-host a public ceremony to honour the occasion.
Because April 28 falls on a weekend this year, a ceremony will be held at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver on Friday, April 27, at 10:30 a.m., to pay tribute to fallen workers. All are invited to attend.
WorkSafeBC will also be webcasting the Day of Mourning proceedings live on so that workers and others who cannot attend their local ceremonies can watch from anywhere in the world.

Musicians take note: be smart about smartphones

The best musicians spend hours practicing and performing, and many would agree that it’s important to maintain, upgrade or replace their instruments regularly. But the fingers used to play those instruments cannot be replaced, so it’s important to keep them healthy throughout a musician’s career.

Gene Ramsbottom, an intermational performer and music instructor at UBC, Douglas College and Capilano University, has concerns that portable devices like cell phones may be contributing to new types of Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) among users who access their phones during scheduled rest periods. 
“In the past, musicians used their break periods to recuperate,” says Ramsbottom. “But we’re seeing a huge number of musicians now that use that time to check e-mail, visit social sites and access information on their smart phones. It’s particularly disturbing to see the trend among young people, who use the devices so frequently and have decades of their career ahead of them.”
Ramsbottom says it’s not just the fingers that take the strain, but the tendons in the forearms and thumbs.
Recent warnings from health experts in Britain point to increasing numbers of people who suffer from ‘text neck’ and ‘text thumb’ injuries. The Charted Society of Physiotherapy points out that excessive use of mobile devices like smart phones and tablets results in poor posture and puts excessive strain on muscles, joints and tendons.
While it takes years to study the health effects of new technology, if you depend on your fingers to make music, it’s best not to take chances. Limit the use of portable devices to short periods of time outside of work hours to prevent painful inflammation.
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Motion Picture industry training agreement under review

A guideline document announced in 2010 that set out general terms and considerations for aerial and forklift operator training requirements in the motion picture industry is currently under review. The document, commonly referred to as the Industry Recognized Practice on Aerial Platform and Lift Truck Operator Training (IRP), between employers, unions and WorkSafeBC, provided guidance around training requirements for companies and unions operating in B.C.’s Motion Picture and Television industries and was drafted to ensure worker safety and improve industry safety performance.
WorkSafeBC requires companies to ensure equipment operators are trained and retrained at intervals either established by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), as in lift trucks, or at intervals determined by the company, as in portable elevating work platforms. While the CSA standard provides little flexibility with regard to the training interval around forklift training, the requirements around aerial lift retraining intervals are less clear and open to interpretation.
The industry is consulting with stakeholders to establish clear and consistent procedures around company obligations as they apply to aerial and forklift operator training. In the meantime, Actsafe, employers and unions recommend two-year retraining intervals for both fork lift and aerial lift.
Actsafe provides subsidized forklift and aerial lift operator training through Leavitt Machinery. The curriculum is taught in accordance with CSA standards and provides supplemental information with an industry specialized focus. WorkSafeBC will accept proof of training from any provider that trains according to the CSA standard. While Actsafe is unable to subsidize or coordinate training through alternate providers at this time, workers that provide documented proof of training from any aerial or forklift operator training provider that trains according to the CSA standard may ask Actsafe staff to update their safety passport record.
Regardless of where training has taken place, WorkSafe BC Regulations require employers to ensure that all operators demonstrate competency on the equipment they will be operating before using it.
Thank you for your patience while the IRP is evaluated. Actsafe will provide updated information through the Motion Picture Standing Committee and on our website as it becomes available.

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Actsafe courses

A full list of our courses is available on our website.

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BC theatre electrical survey winner

As part of our Live Performance Electrical Certificate program review, Actsafe surveyed BC theatre managers and technicians on current practices in theatres around the province throughout February.
We had a great response from the industry and want to extend a big thank you to everyone who participated. Actsafe will use the information collected to improve service delivery and communicate about industry safety issues.
Congratulations to Steven Goodman, Manager of the Bell Performing Arts Centre, who was the lucky winner of our draw for a $100 Visa card.

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Share Actsafe resources

Like something in this newsletter or on our website? We’ve added some new features to the website to make sharing the information we provide a lot easier. You can also join the conversation and share our articles on Twitter or among your Facebook friends. 

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