if only I had known...


Active Member
In my HS (where most of my experience has taken place) we occasionally had reason to crawl up into the ceiling above our auditorium to focus lights, change house lights bulbs, run wires etc. The ceiling was not really constructed to be crawled in, thus most of it was just the plaster that amde the ceiling itself, and a narrow metal grid which held it together, so if you stuck to the metal you were fine, if you didn't, you were falling 40 feet into the seats of the house. Naturally there were no lights.

Anyway, the day in question, I had been crawling around the in the ceiling for 3 hours (with a broken xlr wrapped around my waist as belt, but thats beside the point) using a make shift flashlight, meaning a light bulb in a socket on an extension cord that would shock me at times. So, I was as far from the safe zone as possible, running cables when my light goes out. I could kind of see still so I finished. well I almost finish, i ran out of cable, while i was trying to feed it down the conduit that contained all of the power lines to the rest of the school (not the best idea, but in a pinch what else could I do?). so, thwarted, I returned to the booth covered in grim and ceiling dust.

Almost a year later, after I have graduated a I came back to pay a visit to my vice principal, pal of mine and a friend to our tech crew. he mentioned to me in passing (unaware of my wire running experience in the void, as the ceiling was called), that over the summer they had brought in electricians to just do an overhaul of the electircal ssytem, and had found an EXPOSED power cable carrying 200v (he said 200v, he may have been mistaken on that account), right where I had been. I very easily could have placed my hand foot or any part of my body on and basicallky been done for. I would most likely either have freaked out and fallen through the ceiling to the seats or served a conductor to electrify the entire grid holding up the ceiling, and thus anyone wh came to help me.

life is delicate when you are a techie...
wow, thats a little freaky!!! 8O 8O

the moral of this story, carry good life insurance!! :D
Hmmm.......In Australia, Occupational Health and Safety would have a field day at your high school. I am sure that you would have a similar governing body when it comes to safety regulations.

Perhaps someone could post a link or give instructions on how to find the info.

It is a good idea for everyone involved in the industry to read and understand the safety guidelines. It doesn’t hurt to read the info that doesn’t apply to your field either as it will help you to better understand (and appreciate) what the other guys have to do.

We all take some risks during our careers and more often than not they are taken out of necessity (that 2am fix) or to save money. Essentially, you are the person responsible for your own actions and if you feel that a job is unsafe, you need to say so. Having said that, It will be the school and the supervisor who allowed you to fry to a crisp and fall 40’ into the dress circle that get the lawsuit filled against them.

The sad thing is that adding safety equipment and guidelines can be an expensive and time consuming task and in some cases may result in a program being cancelled, as the risks and/or cost involved are too high.

In Australia a lot of smaller businesses and public recreational centres have had to close down because they cannot afford the necessary public liability insurance.

Having said all of that, any money spent on safety should come from the school’s overall budget, not from that of your theatre department.

I’ll take my hard hat off now – I would like to hear other people’s comments and I am sure that disc2slick would as well.

The unfortunate thing to mention is that on this continent, OSHA (Occupational Health Safety Act) only applies to professional bussinesses. Therefore it would not apply to a school or community theater. While the Fire Department, through the Department of Safety and Permits would have an interest. My take on this is that according to OSHA, it must only be dangerous if you are gettting paid to use something. Like gravity doesn't work in some theaters, only professional ones.

Relying on govenment to help you is also a dangerous game to play. I like to point out to my class the diffference between toxic and non-toxic as according to OSHA. Want to guess? It is an answer as only as a true politician could create. An item is considered toxic if it kills over 50% of a test subject when exposed. If it is less than 50% it is classified non-toxic. Go figure. Less you fret over children and crayons, children are covered by a different organization. So it is still safe to eat your paste glue, just be careful when you get to adulthood.
Robert said:
Like gravity doesn't work in some theaters, only professional ones.
I like it!

So - how lucky were we that Newton was a professional physicist?

However, why is a school not considered a business? Money is payed (via taxes and fees) for a service (education). Teachers are employed and are therefore professionals. So if the teacher got electrocuted in this instance what would happen?

I would think that it would be in the best interest of the school to rectify this situation to ensure a safe environment and protect against possible lawsuits.

I believe OSHA has every right to enter a school and investigate. Remember schools are a place of work for teachers. As to crawling around in a ceiling, it is sometimes a necessary evil, but don't do it without a fall arrest system and a respirator at the least (asbestos). Sadly, many schools fail to see the need for personal fall arrest systems in the theatre. Recently I was climbing truss to rig some safety points to the grid for them, I had a line from the grid to me with a harness on. Remember, your life is more important than the show, demand proper safety procedures or someone may die.

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