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Rope broke off of the arbor!

Discussion in 'Safety' started by Techiegirly, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. Techiegirly

    Techiegirly Member

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    Tonight I was working a load-in at a certain popular college on the west coast when a few of my co-workers and I were struggling to take out a line-set containing only a traveler track. Just as we got the arbor to the ground the rope broke off the arbor. Luckily we had a combined 8 hands on the line @ the time so SOMEONE had a hand on it when it broke but since it was WAY outta weight we all struggled in a hurry to re-tie the rope back to the arbor. Someone could've died tonight. The rope was frayed really badly @ the end and upon trying to re-tie the knot into the arbor we found there wasn't enough slack to re-tie it like the other line-sets. We tied one knot and taped and tielined the tail of the rope, flew it back in and took the traveler track off, took the line back down to pipe weight, flew it back out, taped the line up so that no one would try and move it and then we tied another rope to the arbor and the rail so if it tried to get away it still has this rope holding it. I'm just worried about the safety of that stage until someone gets in there and fixes it for real. What do you guys think? Has this ever happened to you before?
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2008
  2. LD4Life

    LD4Life Active Member

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    Re: Rope broke off of the abror!

    Yikes! Good glory am I glad I've never had to deal with that before. My closest was a newbie tech not clamping an unbalanced arbor and then letting go of it. Fellow senior lighting tech ripped most of the skin off of his palms trying to stop it (which he did). Still has scars from it.
     
  3. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    Re: Rope broke off of the abror!

    Techiegirl - you seem to fly from one crisis to the next, girlfriend. I'd throw a Sunday on the line, just to be sure no one messes with it. Do you have someone lined up to replace the rope? New England Rope Cp. makes the best arbor line in the world - I couldn't wait to replace everything in the arbor with it. It is so great to handle, doesn't stretch and runs like a dream.

    No, I have never had a line break in our arbor, but when I was on staff at my college, I did an on-sight safety inspection of the arbor on a yearly basis (it's one of the nice things about being on staff somewhere). I even took special classes so I would be rated for it. We always inspected the ropes twice a year, just to be sure.

    We did have two run aways, one took out a major portion of the grid and broke the sprinkler system, which then destroyed a brand new stage deck, but that was yaers before I came on staff. The second one was with a guest LD/designer. She had piggy-backed two lines, but neglected to let anyone know this. The deck crew unloaded one pipe, but didn't realize that both arbors were loaded and went to take the pipe out. Thankfully, the deck crew knew what to do and were able to clear the area when that arbor came in. The part that pissed me off was that I didn't know about it until the next day when a student tracked me down and told me about it. Somehow, the guest TD(the LD's husband) 'forgot' to mention it to me...along with forgetting to mention the tear in the cyc, the destruction of my black scrim (different incidents). The man literally shut down our summer program and reduced my budget for the next several years...sigh...the 'good' old days.

    Charlie
     
  4. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to make an educated (and possibly erroneous) guess about a few things:

    1) There's no loading gallery at the top of the grid to unload the weights off arbor. If there is, then there's a serious problem with crew management at this facility.

    2) You were removing the curtain/traveler from the track while it was on the deck, thus it was out of weight - arbor heavy.

    3) The result of the above is that you end up using the arbor purchase line to hold the out of weight pipe/batten.

    4) You were using said purchase line to lower the out-of-weight arbor so as to unload the excess weight off the arbor while on the deck.

    This is a very dangerous method to achieve a balanced pipe. The purchase lines are not designed to hold the weight of even a partly loaded arbor, they are there to move a correctly counter balanced pipe and arbor and that's it.

    As you discovered, it's seemingly a past practice at this facility that led to a failure of a rope being used in an unsafe manner.

    In the absence of a loading gallery, the best method I've seen to allow counterweights to be loaded/unloaded at floor level after a pipe has had it's scenery or lighting installed, was rolling weighted winch system - roughly 2000 lbs of counterweight on a dolly holding an appropriately sized winch.

    The winch cable is attached to the bottom eye hook of the arbor, an appropriate amount of counterweight is removed from the arbor, the winch and cable takes the load (the pipe is now pipe heavy), the winch then safely allows the pipe to fly in, you remove the load on the batten and all is in counterbalance. You then reverse the process to add scenery/lighting to a pipe. There might be other methods, but I've never seen a better one.

    Steve B.
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Wow SteveB that's an excellent idea of how to handle that type of lineset.

    Has this theater had it's ropes PROFESSIONALLY inspected in the last 5 years? 10? 20? Are they the ropes that came with the building... like most high schools? While I see where SteveB's going, my educational theater background tells me that they haven't paid for proper inspections over the years. I would shut the whole thing down until you get a professional rigger to inspect the entire system. Someone from the school should inspect every inch of the system once a year and a professional should come in at least every 5 years to inspect it.
     
  6. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    The only problem with that is finding the money to bring in a professional. We actually had to go to Loss control and threaten to take it to a Board of Trustees meeting before our college came up with the funds. It's like they have plenty of money to repair the damages done to both property and staff, but not to keep the accident from happening in the first place.

    Charlie
     
  7. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    This statement reminds me of the punching bag thread that Ship started a couple of weeks ago. It's amazing that we have to go to the lengths of threatening someone just to get a simple inspection done. I guess it's kinda like health care in the US. We'll pay for a Birth but not for the Pill, We'll pay for a heart transplant but not for preventative care. Sorry ranting.

    Techiegirly, that has never happened to me, and I hope to no one else here, if for no other reason than you < general you not you specifically> should never let a fly system get to that point in the first place. Steve's post is an excellent one, print it out and show it to the management/ teachers.
     
  8. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    With fly systems you shouldn't be waiting until the once or twice a year that a professional comes in and inspects the system. Any fly operator, be it a student, volunteer, or professional should be trained to keep their eyes open for any unsafe situations. About 2 months ago (during our last show, Midsummer) one of my crew came down from the fly rail and told me that the purchase line for one of my electrics was starting to fray. You don't have to be a certified rigger to be able to tell when something is starting to fall apart and/or become unsafe. The other thing is that your operators NEED to tell you when something is wrong, they should never watch a frayed purchase line go by and not tell someone.

    Over the past season, we have been in the process of replacing/updating our fly system. It just happened that this lineset was still an old hemp purchase line. It was not hard, nor time consuming to fix as we had all the parts on hand, and now we are back in safe operational status. We will be changing out the last of the old hemp lines and old arbors this summer. (we are all sick of hemp splinters!)

    This is a very bad thing. You should NEVER try to grab and stop a running line with your hands. For one thing, you don't want to do what your friend did, but it could also have been much worse. I know that your instinct is to grab the line, but running linesets have so much momentum that they can throw you off the rail or lift you up to grid. In either of those situations you wouldn't get a second chance as the most likely result is death.

    EQUIPMENT CAN BE REPLACED, LIVES CANNOT!

    As also was mentioned, you shouldn't be trying to move unbalanced linsets. That, in and of itself has bad idea written all over it. Having your lineset out of weight makes it that much more dangerous if the purchase line breaks. I have seen bad fly system accidents, and I know people who have been involved in worse.

    Going back to the OP, at the very least, the lineset in question should be chained off until it can be fixed, as you have proven first hand that ropes break. This is very similar to electrical LOTO procedures. All it takes is one stupid person to walk up to that fly system and say "Hmmmm, what is all this tape for?" rip it off and then try to use it. The only result will be bad things.
     
    gafftaper likes this.
  9. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I have not had this exact problem with a set, but I did once make a rigging overhaul somewhat of a condition of my employment. I was offered the job of TD at a college who's rigging system had the original hemp ropes from the install 43 years ago. Even from a distnace, you could see they were tattered and torn. Upon close inspection, the rope smelled and was so worn that looked like it had been outside for 20 years. Many sets were chained and marked "use only as last option". When offered the position I, respectfully, said I would not be comfortable working in a space with rigging in that poor of shape. They paid for an inspection and $25,000 in repairs, including new multiline rope, locks, and lift lines.

    I agee 100% with other posts, I would not operate in the space until a professinal rigger has inspected the system and his recommended repairs have been made in full.

    I also suggest that additional traning for the facility staff (including administration) be offered so safe operating procedures can be adheared to. That is my $0.02.

    ~Dave
     
  10. Flyboy

    Flyboy Member

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    This is very true. I made the exact same mistake a few years ago at my university...that's how I earned my nickname. I got lucky and was able to lock my toes on the locking rail and have someone nearby pull me in, but it could have been alot worse. Since that one incident I've been extremely anal retentive about flyrail safety. As one of my mentors used to always say, "You only have to f*** up once."
     
  11. Techiegirly

    Techiegirly Member

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    I'm just scared to say somehing. I told he TD in charge of the theatre I did not feel comfortable and that they needed to have a professional come in and look at it and all of the other line-sets. It was insisted that the theatre rarely ever used the lines so it shouldn't need future inspection. It was one of those situations where we were all concerned but it seemed like no one in upper management was going to make any other special arrangements other than not using that line and then proceeding on with the load-in. I don't want to see ANYONE get hurt. This school HAS money, no doubt about it, it's just a matter of whether the people who are above me are willing to take the necessary and proper care that should be taken. If it were up to me I would've called some one in either last night or IMMEDIATLY this morning to take a look at it.

    No there is no loading gallery at the top :(

    Correct, we removed a border and placed a traveler track on and then muscled it out which is when the thing broke loose :(
     
  12. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    Re: Rope broke off of the abror!

    Spikesgirl said:
    No, I have never had a line break in our arbor, but when I was on staff at my college, I did an on-sight safety inspection of the arbor on a yearly basis (it's one of the nice things about being on staff somewhere). I even took special classes so I would be rated for it. We always inspected the ropes twice a year, just to be sure.

    In regard to the "special classes" you took. What and where? How much? We recently had SECOA come through and inspect our gear. It put a small dent in the budget. I'm not against paying them to come in and do the inspection but if I could get some classes and do our annual inspection, I would only need to have them come in occasionally. I'd also be interested in finding a different company to come in do inspections.

    I was working at a venue that had run-away. The pipe had been cleared of a 500 pound drop by the deck crew but the crew on the weight bridge had just started to clear the weights off the arbor. The top plate of the arbor failed and the eyebolt that the rope ties to pulled out. Best guess is that there was still about 400 pounds on the arbor. The weight arbor fell and hit the rail hard enough to knock two other linesets crooked, shattered 8 weights, and the pipe flew out hard enough that it hit the grid and broke a sprinkler line. Luckily no one was hurt, but it scared the crap out of everyone, especially the riggers working on the grid. What a mess.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2008
  13. Techiegirly

    Techiegirly Member

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    That's pretty scary. I'm glad no one got hurt in either of our situations. :neutral:
     
  14. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Some thoughts:

    1) Never, Never, Never trust the rope lock to hold an unbalanced arbor. The rope lock is there merely to keep the purchase line from drifting. Remember that even a correctly balanced system will be slightly out of balance when the arbor is carrying the weight of the aircraft cable. This is almost always the case when you load up an arbor when the load on the pipe is being added while the pipe is on the deck, thus the imbalance when you grid the pipe. That unbalanced condition can allow the arbor to drift, depending on length of the cables, etc... and that slight unbalance is the only thing the rope lock is designed to handle.

    2) NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use the rope lock as a brake to ease in/out the arbor. This causes severe damage to the purchase line.

    3) The scenario as described in the OP seems like a theater in need of a serious shakeup in their operating practices. It would be a good time to hire someone like Bill Sapsis, or someone from a rigging company with an ETCP certified rigger to come in and inspect, as well as give some classes in safe operating methods.

    My $.02

    Steve B.
     
  15. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Bill might charge a little bit too much for your budget to send someone out to California.;)
     
  16. Techiegirly

    Techiegirly Member

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    Sapsis, that's exactly what I said yesterday and everyone was like nah, it's fine we'll just re-tie the knot ourselves. It wasn't until the guy (the crew cheif) trying to tie the knot gave up after several attempts to re-tie it the way it used to be that I finally said, "that's it. We're brining it in like this, clear everyone off stage, we're taking the darn thing off the line and not using it until someone comes in and inspects it." Everyone gave up at this point and sort of half-***** agreed with me but I have no clue if they plan to get anyone in there soon to check it out. Geez, I hope so.:(

    Sapsis shouldn't be too much, back when I was in community college we had a guy come out and help us rig up our Christmas show. If my old Communtiy college can foot the bill for that the college I'm at now should DEFINATELY be able to handle it. I'm talking MAJOR university here.
     
  17. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Check with Jay Glerum he's the man who literally wrote THE book on rigging. Plus he lives up here in Seattle and makes regular trips all over the West Coast for this sort of thing. I'm told he takes almost a month in Vegas every year to inspect rigging. If he can't do it I'm sure he can recommend someone locally to contact.

    Another approach would be to take a copy of Dr. Doom's book to your college's risk management department. This would be the approach I would take if I was in an unsafe situation. Take the book in and say here. This is what you have going on. This is book shows how it's going to kill people. You need to do something about it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2014
  18. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    Thank you, Gaff - I did take two of Jay's classes and he came out to inspect our lines after I wailed, beat my breast and threatened to quit. And, yes I did have a copy of Dr. Doom's book in my hand when I did it.

    Techiegirl - they also used the excuse that we only did four shows a year, so the flylines didn't have to be inspected more than once a year. My argument was that there had been TWO major incidents without a followup inspection on the system. it wasn't until I actually offered to consult with my friendly neighborhood lawyer that they started to realize that I was serious. The last incident happened the summer before I took over officially and it scared the crap out of me that something would happen and I'd be sued for complacency.

    Mixmaster - the classes I took were over 16 years ago and the college ended up footing the bill. I spent a week in SF, taking classes at a local theater that was dark. I think the cost was about $500 for the class, then room and board, which the college also (eventually) paid for. The final was a real b buster, but I felt capable afterwards. Sure wish I hadn't left my manuals at the college though when I departed so abruptly.

    Charlie
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2014
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    OSHA or your state's version of it would probably be happy to shut the theater down for you.

    I'm serious about that... is work worth getting killed? is a show worth getting killed? We live by the code that the show must go on... but sometimes that is just nonsense. Do you feel safe working there knowing that an arbor rope may snap at any moment? How would you feel if an actor was crushed by a runaway batten? Sometimes shutting the place down is the best solution. I realize you are not in charge and this could cause a lot of personal problems for you. But there are plenty of safety nuts out there who would hire you in a heartbeat if you believe in safety enough to get in trouble for it.

    It's a real option. You need to carefully weigh all the factors in making that decision but whistle blowing is an option.
     
  20. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    Absoluetly OSHA would closed down the theater in California. Give me the name, Techiegirl and I'll report them. Call your local paper and talk to a reporter - they love to get ahole dof stuff like this.

    Charlie
     

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