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students on grid/catwalk

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by hsaunier, Feb 7, 2008.

  1. hsaunier

    hsaunier Active Member

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    We recently moved to a new high school facility. The drama dept at the old school had become nearly non existent. Now in the new house the admin is unwilling to allow students on the grid or on the catwalk, (which means they can't get to the spot light locations!!) Anyone have policies or rules which address the issue of students working on or around rigging?
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    How is your catwalk built? Is it fully enclosed with the proper railings or do you have to use fall-arrest up there? I can see them not wanting them in the grid do to large open holes, but to not allow them in a catwalk....

    Start calling other local schools, and then try to get them to produce a document that shows an incident happening at another school on their grid/catwalk. Won't be the easiest thing to get them to let you do it, but you could always try to get them to buy you 40 automated lights to hang FOH so you never have to go up there, and yes that has actually worked before.
     
  3. hsaunier

    hsaunier Active Member

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    Catwalk and grid are fully enclosed and fall protected.
     
  4. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Then the administration is being ridiculous.
    You need to take an administrator up there and clip them in to show how restricted they are.
    If they're that concerned, ask about liability release forms from their attorney.
     
  5. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Ohhh.......genius idea.
    Go to a multi day rigging seminar http://www.riggingseminars.com/ yourself and then get a rigging company to do a training session for the students.
     
  6. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Most High Schools I've dealt with in the past 3 years have some sort of similar policy including Magnet schools. Has more to do with insurance and falling on the way to the catwalk/booth posistions when they're completly enclosed than the administration. Also has a lot to do with the age of the person being sent up there. Under 18? Fuggetboutit.
     
  7. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    Or just do all your work and tell admin (if they ask) that you were under adult supervision...."of course out director was up here with us, making sure that we were safe" What they don't know won't hurt them....until the insurance claims investigator comes out to check around.
     
  8. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    From the OP's post and sig, it appears he is a faculty member.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2008
  9. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Re: Compact fluorescent house lights

    Well, charcoaldabs, since you brought up the subject, (in another thread), exactly what are the rules for your "fall-protected" catwalks? I know you only have one vertical fall arrest per catwalk. Does that mean only one person allowed in/on the catwalk at a time? What if you need one person to hold the fixture in position while the other tightens the C-Clamp? (A common occurrence when out-hanging/over-hanging, tail-downs, side-arms, and the like.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2008
  10. What Rigger?

    What Rigger? I'm so fly....I Neverland.

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    Occupation:
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    Not at home, that's for sure.
    Dudes, sorry...it's not that easy.
    1. By law, all users of fall protection- of any kind- must be trained in it's use. Yes, this is an OSHA thing, and OSHA doesn't necessarily apply to people who aren't employees (this means YOU, students)...but fall protection is the same as any other tool: if you don't know how to use it correctly, you won't get full benefit of it. Considering the alternative to this, why would you want anything other than full training, right?
    2. Only 2 things are certain: gravity and taxes. Oh, and death 80% of the time if your fall is over 6 feet. That's per OSHA records of reported falls in the workplace.
    3. One man's opinion: no, the administration may not be getting ridiculous. I'm willing to bet there's no REAL rigger on staff to inspect/operate/tune the rigging and/or counterweight system. Am I right?
    4. But Mr. LaDue, as a fellow RFL, I can see where it would be nice if it were only that simple.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2008
    derekleffew likes this.
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Rigger you're always so negative... 20% of the time you live! Of those 20% survivors, a few won't even be paralyzed! That's better odds than the lottery!


    As for the question. It really comes down to either the place is safe and students should be able to work there OR it's not and students don't belong there. The best way to settle that debate would be to have your district's Occupational Safety/Risk Management people come check it out. If they give it a green light your administration should let students in to work. If they don't then you probably shouldn't be up there either.
     
  12. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    You may need to clarify what the administrator actually meant to say, like the telephone game, where the message gets garbled a little as passes from person to person: Did they really mean no students allowed? Or did they mean no unsupervised students allowed? Or did they mean no unauthorized students are allowed? Are there access issues that make control of entry to the grid/catwalk a problem (like is the door in a common area rather than from the theater space)?

    I think you may be able to take a rational approach with the administrators, describing training and control of students on the catwalk/grid. (If the administrators really cared about student safety, they wouldn’t let the football coach call pass patterns over the middle…)


    Joe
     
  13. CynicWhisper

    CynicWhisper Member

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    Agree with everyone here. Talk to a liability assessment person or someone else with that power in the district with that power to determine things. Talk to other schools with similar catwalks.

    Basically, if legally and logically, they're still not budging, we've found that appealing to their interests works well.

    Just think, if students can't work the lights, the school would have to hire someone out to work all those lights.

    Or they could pay the money to buy moving lights for all of the positions on the catwalk. Be specific. Tell them exact numbers. Plus, you'd need a good board to accomodate those lights, a few hundred feet of dmx. Have fun with this.

    Just think of how difficult it would be to hold those school assemblies in complete blackness. What a waste of such an expensive investment to a school if it's totally off limits to even students who are willing to be full trained and supervised.

    Take the proper precautions and your students will rise to the occassion. We may be teenagers, but we do have the capacity to learn and take responsibility for ourselves. At my theatre, we've been given enough freedoms that those of us who have been there the longest that we have gotten a sense of ownership or the theatre and do a lot of self-patrolling. When students hold other students to safety standards stricter than even those of the directors, you know you've done something right. But that can't happen if the kids are treated like toddlers.

    Best of luck.
     
  14. PadawanGeek

    PadawanGeek Active Member

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    You could tell the administration to hang and focus the lights for you! that might convince them........ :neutral:
     
  15. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    Occupation:
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    At our facility, no students are allowed into our catwalk without supervision from either the TD or ATD. Students are NOT permitted out onto our Grid at all. (Catwalk is at approximately 45', grid at 56'). Access to both locations are always locked. Spaces are clearly marked with signage reminding students about access as well.
     
  16. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Yep, at my facility students are allowed up in the catwalks. However we "have" to clip-in *wink*wink*. Access to the catwalks is restricted, but it's very easy to climb over or around the gate. We continually work above people. We also have some junk up there. Hey, my electrics stuff is nice and clean, I just got finished a big reorganization project. However, the TD has left several lengths of some sort of 2x4, as well as projector mount, etc.. It has created a trip hazard, and is a PITA, as it blocks the easiest way U.S. / D.S. (now I have to A. Duck my head, or B. Forget and run into the ceiling.).

    So in many respects it sounds like a lot of your facilities.
     
  17. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator

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    Back in high school students always went up to the catwalk. However, it was very safe and dare I say, designed for student access. To get up, you went up a very wide 26 step staircase (not ladder) along the SR wall. There is storage space up there. There's a door, and behind the door a 6 step ladder to the catwalk. I can't imagine anyone getting injured on their way up unless they were not paying any attention to what they were doing.

    The catwalk itself stretches the width of the house, and has two railings, one at around 4 ft and one at 2ft or so. We usually hung lights on the 4ft railing. It'd be pretty hard to fall through the railings. We didn't have any kind of grid, so that wasn't an issue.

    The big problem we had was that the Genie Lift was off-limits to students, so we used a very tall A-Frame ladder. I personally think that was more dangerous than the Genie, but that's just what we used. Nobody really asked any questions, and we didn't go out of our way to get approval for the ladder.

    To my knowledge, there have been zero accidents in this space in 8 years due to falling.
     
  18. mnfreelancer

    mnfreelancer Active Member

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    When I was in middle school we had a smallish theatre that was in the oldest part of the building, and although it was a nice space it didn't have catwalks or a "grid" accessible by any permanent means. We had a 16' double-sided fiberglass A ladder to access the electrics above the stage, and an 8' aluminum (argh) A ladder to access the beam lights above the lip of the balcony. As a middle school student I was allowed to set and use these ladders. I was among the few students though whom the director trusted to use such equipment - others would have gotten trouble.

    When I moved up to the high school, we were in a BEAUTIFUL new building (built in '01) with a huge professional theatre. We had three catwalks over the house which were very safe and enclosed if you stayed in the typical areas, and had ample head-room with no low clearance areas. Of course us techs went above the catwalks for some beam hopping and behind the stairs in the box-booms where there were no railings to store very infrequently needed gear. We also had a load rail catwalk at 58' above the deck that we were of course allowed onto. That was among the more dangerous of the catwalks since it had a side that was more open than the rest to facilitate weighting. Us student techs were allowed everywhere but of course actors and general drama people were not and were quickly yelled at if they attempted it for kicks.

    The building that USED to be the high school and is now the middle school (the building I attended is now gone, RIP) had a very fun, intricate system of catwalks above the house. It was accessible from both stage right in the scene shop via a series of shipman's ladders totaling about 30' in height, and from the booth in the upper-house section. Being an older building this system had its quirks - low clearance in lots of areas, trip hazard where support beams cross the grating, crap lying around that could be kicked down into the house by accident (did this once, nobody got hurt but it will hopefully be the last time I create such a hazard) and spots where you had to walk on thin but reinforced ceiling concrete and HVAC ducts to get at things. Students have historically been allowed up there and to my knowledge still are. Once again only trusted students but beyond that, no specific rules, and no rule written anywhere in my former school district.
     

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