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3 Groups Cited in Fatal Stage Collapse

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

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A sound contractor, stagehand union and the Indiana State Fair Commission all share responsibility for the deadly collapse of steel staging that killed seven people at the fair in August.

 The steel stage, rigging and scaffolding collapsed in a crowd of 12,000 people at the Indianapolis State Fair.

 Rich Evers / Flickr

The steel stage, rigging and scaffolding collapsed in a crowd of 12,000 people at the Indianapolis State Fair.

The problems ranged from failure to provide personal protective equipment and fall protection, to inadequate anchoring of the structure, to lack of supervision and safety evaluations, the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday in releasing its report and citations on the accident.

Five fairgoers, a stagehand and a security guard died and 58 people were injured Aug. 13 on the fairgrounds when the steel structure collapsed on top of the Main Grandstand Stage as a crowd of 12,000 fans awaited a country music performance. Winds at the time were gusting up to 70 mph. Multiple videos of the collapse appeared on YouTube.

3 Groups Cited

On Wednesday (Feb. 8), IOSHA announced Safety Orders and fines against three parties involved in the production:

Mid-America Sound Corp., based in Greenfield, IN, was issued three “knowing violations” and fined a total of $63,000. (State law permits a fine of up to $70,000 on each count.) IOSHA said the contractor failed to:

• Develop and implement an Operations Management Plan;

• Develop a risk assessment plan;

• “Maintain and use current engineering calculations and documentation”; and

• Provide appropriate, qualified supervision.

The company has issued no comment except a note of condolence on its website several days after the accident.

Local 30 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, including Theatrical Payroll Services Inc., was cited for one non-serious and three serious violations and fined a total of $11,500. (Serious violations carry a maximum penalty of $7,000 each.)

The citations allege that the stagehands’ union failed to:

• Consider soil conditions when placing cable anchor points for the grandstand stage;

• Provide fall protection for employees;

• Conduct a personal protective equipment hazard assessment of the site to determine what PPE was required while erecting the roof and grandstand; and

• Maintain proper OSHA records.

Bill Groth, attorney for the local, told reporters that the citations were inappropriate because the stagehands worked for the state fair commission.

“Local 30 is not an employer,” Groth told WTHR-TV. “They’re a labor organization, a union. I just think it’s reprehensible. The state ought to look in the mirror, because that’s where the culpability begins.”

The Indiana State Fair Commission received one serious violation and fined $6,300 for failing to conduct a life safety evaluation that included an assessment of all conditions and relevant safety measures at the fair’s concert venues.

The commission made no immediate comment on the citation.

No Cause Cited

IOSHA’s six-month, 2,000-hour investigation did not identify a cause of the collapse, noted Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Lori A. Torres. Rather, it focused on whether employers at the scene had violated health and safety standards.

The “knowing” violations against Mid-America Sound were the most serious, Torres noted at a morning news conference in Indianapolis. “The evidence demonstrated that the Mid-America Sound Corporation was aware of the appropriate requirements and demonstrated a plain indifference to complying with those requirements.”

The State Fair Commission, for its part, “failed to have conducted an adequate life safety evaluation and plan prior to the event,” Torres said. “The commission simply did not establish and maintain conditions of work for its employees that were reasonably safe and free from recognized hazards.”

As for Local 30, the stagehands’ union clearly acted as an employer in the situation and failed to take proper safety precautions for employees and failed to take appropriate steps to ensure the load-bearing roof was properly secured.

Each of the parties has 15 business days to contest or pay the penalties.


Tagged categories: Construction; Disasters; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Personal protective equipment; Scaffolding; Steel

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