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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stage Collapse - More on "State Fair report will lead to best practices in industry"

Updating yesterday's ILB entry, some quotes from John Tuohy's story today in the Indianapolis Star, which is headed "Event Safety Alliance putting together guidelines for concert safety: Music industry organization calls it No. 1 issue; governor says stage collapses are a 'global problem'":

But one critic of the group called its formation a "publicity stunt," intended to stop stricter government regulation.

"This is just another fake PR group that the industry always creates after a disaster to get publicity and then nothing happens," said crowd safety consultant Paul Wertheimer, founder of Crowd Management Strategies, of Los Angeles, who has advised cities and groups around the world on how to improve safety at events.

About 40 members of the consortium held a closed-door meeting with Gov. Mitch Daniels and other top administration officials. * * *

The Alliance is reviewing a manual used in Europe since 1993 called the Event Safety Guide, or "purple guide," and plans to use it as a model for a standard in the United States. The guide emphasizes communication and safety planning among those responsible for putting on concerts.

Many of the recommendations mimic those suggested by Witt Associates, which conducted an independent investigation of the State Fair accident. Among the purple guide suggestions are "creating a health and safety policy; planning to ensure the policy is put into practice; and organizing an effective management structure and delivery of the policy."

After the meeting, Daniels called deadly stage collapses at public events a "global problem." He said the state already has moved to toughen its safety standards and could incorporate some of the Alliance's suggestions into its regulations.

"We are on full and maximum alert now," Daniels said. "You won't be putting up anything much bigger than a pup tent in Indiana from now on that somebody doesn't come by and ask questions first."

Senate Bill 273 requires those who put up temporary stages at events to conduct inspections of them and submit proof to the state. The law will expire Jan. 1, 2014. In the meantime, a summer study committee will delve more deeply into the safety concerns. In 2013, the Indiana General Assembly could approve more thorough legislation.

Daniels said that falling stages are a problem around the world, and he rattled off a handful of other tragedies that occurred last year. * * *

Wertheimer scoffed at that characterization.

"It is only a global problem among reckless, careless and incompetent event organizers," Wertheimer said. "It is not a global problem among people who know what they are doing."

The investigations by Witt and the construction firm, Thornton Tomasetti, criticized the Fair Commission as unprepared for the storm that blew the rigging and scaffolding over. The probes also concluded that the rigging was not as sturdy as it should have been and that nobody bothered to inspect it.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 24, 2012 08:58 AM
Posted to Stage Collapse