Balcony rails and falls

Discussion in 'Safety' started by BillConnerFASTC, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    NFPA is currently looking at balcony rails, specifically sight line constrained rails. The incidents in arenas and stadiums over the past several decades initiated the study, but right now it's the same requlation.

    The team researching came up with two incidents in performing arts facilities over 20 years. One was ruled suicide and should not be considered. The other was in the Chicago Theatre, and in one Tribune article was labeled balcony. I'm pretty sure I found before this was in the lobby, but not sure where. If you know of the incident in have information that can clarify, please share.

    If you know of other fall incidents over sight line constrained rails, please share.

    Thank you.
     
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  2. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Can you clarify "sightline-constrained rails"?
     
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  3. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    It's the term used in codes for railings which exempted from the usual guard requirements because if the realities of sightlines. The usual 42" guard rail required where there is a fall hazard is permitted to be a 26" rail because it is constrained by sightlines.

    Make sense?
     
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  4. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Jay Ashworth We've flogged this one to death before here on Control Booth. During the construction of an opera house with four balconies, ALL of the construction workers, the lads who'd been with the site from the third basement on up and were intimately familiar with it had to abide by all rules and amendmants which, in downtown Toronto, meant we could be no closer to a balcony edge than two rows of seats without a full-wank fall arrest belt / harness and lanyard.
    On the other hand:
    Once opening night and the folks dressed to be seen (more than to see) arrived, the world was their oyster and one and all were free to prance elegantly down even the steepest steps of the fourth balcony in their 70's and 80's wearing their stiletto heels and floor length gowns hiding not only their varicose veins and spindly legs but where they were placing their feet on the stairs they'd never trod on in their lives gawking around taking in the new venue they'd never been in sans their glasses and contact lenses. The glare off their jewelry was enough to blind those beside and behind them yet the elegant opening night patrons were permitted to descend all the way to the balcony rails where the stairs ended, then stand there preening and gawking regardless of which balcony they may have actually possessed tickets for.
    The comparison between construction and public opening was startling to say the least. The full wank get-up I had to wear to merely walk across any of the balconies leaning over the rails merely to insert my Shure tone generator in any of the many mic and line level XLR's was understandable from the POV of the general contractor but the contrast with the public attending for the first time was startling.
    Over the edge of the balconies, the various designers and PEngs had spec'd and approved two tubular pipes running across essentially the entire width of each balcony. Each pair of pipes were intended as one to hang lighting instruments from and the other to stand on while hanging and focusing said lights.
    You should've heard the BELLOW the GC emitted when he first caught site of the dimming and lighting sub contractor merrily traipsing across one of the balcony rails with a test lamp in one hand and a Motorola walkie in the other. I was standing on the apron when the GC bellowed and took the heat since he ASSumed it was one of my guys.
    EDIT: Missed a word and corrected a tense.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
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  5. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    And yet, despite Ron's narrative of people on the precipice, no substantiated reports of falls. Every project with a balcony temporart guards to 42, then PPE, even for the cleaners.
     
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  6. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Is it possible the EXTREMELY low incidence of falls over balcony rails is due to the positioning, and close attentiveness, of FOH managers in general and ushers in particular? Several venues I've worked in position their burliest ushers at the bottom end of stairs leading down balconies and have others stationed at the top to help any patrons potentially requiring assistance to safely descend.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
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  7. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    I don't know Ron. Working on doing some research - GoPro's over head and under seats to watch movement and feet. Compared to stadiums and arenas, I suspect the relative low exposure - theatre people enter and sit, and leave at end, and some at intermission while sports are constant coming and going throughout the event - is a factor. And not as much standing during an event. Maybe alcohol - but that is not a reason to be kept safe. I don't like blaming victims, no matter how foolish they behave. I think there may (still) be a modicum of decorum associated with the - say - ballet - as opposed to football (either flavor).

    But the fact is it's a very unresearched subject. And if you have difficulty envisioning the research google and watch "The Stair Event". Anyone need a graduate degree level thesis project that could likely make a difference?
     
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  8. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    18 minutes of Canadian content in need of a 'Double Like" button. Thanks Mr. Bill ( Intentionally sans Bat Call ) for calling this to everyone's attention.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     

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