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USITT info sharing

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by jessamarie6, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. jessamarie6

    jessamarie6 Member

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    So I didn't got to go to USITT this year, and from recent posts I know that there are quite a few others who also wish they could have been there. So if you were there I would really appreciate if you'd share what you learned. Any fun facts, great tips or creative ideas you came across? Any really wonderful advice you were given in one of the sessions? Any new products you came across on the show floor that the rest of us need to check out?
     
  2. cvanp

    cvanp Active Member

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    My school compiled a blog!

    USITT Blog (td)squared

    Go through all those posts for a great record of USITT.


    EDIT: It's a lot to read, yes, but it definitely covers many sessions, topics and products, including everything from the Vari-Lite VLX to the presentation by Sha Xialolan (the LD of the Beijing Olympics) to the Prague Quadrennial to Vectorworks and way more. It's full of info!
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Here's an interesting tidbit I heard, by two different presenters, at two different sessions:
    Food for thought, and the reason one cannot find anything theatre specific in the OSHA guidelines. When compared to other industries, our per capita injury and mortality rates are very low, even though the theatre is full of hazards. We are pretty good at mitigating risks, and continue to improve.
     
  4. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    derek

    I am curious about that OSHA quote. In what context were the presenters making that statement?

    Joe
     
  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Both presenters were trying to make the point that if one goes looking to OSHA for guidance on, for example, "What are the requirements for protecting the front of the stage from a fall into the orchestra pit?," one won't find anything. One won't even find "orchestra pit" mentioned. OHSA requires some sort of protection to mitigate any fall greater than six feet. A railing across the front of a stage would probably not work so well.

    A similar example: a college TD wanted to use live flame onstage, and knew he would have to gain approval by both the university's Safety Dept. and the town Fire Marshal. He searched for the most relevant criteria, (in this case: NFPA 160: Standard for the Use of Flame Effects Before an Audience). Even though that code was written specifically with Las Vegas shows such as The Buccaneer Bay Sea Battle and the Mirage Volcano in mind, he was able to glean important information from it, and apply those guidelines to his little flaming cauldron effect. He was able to demonstrate he had done research and taken all reasonable measures to mitigate the risk of the hazard, and thus both AHJs approved the effect, for application in the 200-seat black box.

    Hope that helps.
     
  6. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I would have to whole heartedly disagree with whomever made the quote (especially after just going through a facility wide OSHA inspection). The problem is that we are a relatively small industry in the over all scheme of things to have specific regulations written for us. When questioning the Genie corporation about making a personnel lift that was capable of moving safely while erect, I was told that they are questioned about that often and they would be unable to make enough return in sales to justify the development and approvals. So, what happens, people use them unsafely very often. We are an industry that technically defies OSHA regulations often. If and when something does happen, you better believe that OSHA will apply. There are many catch all phrases in the OSHA code that can and do apply to our industry. Generally speaking, we will fall under the General Industry guidelines. However, if you are doing outdoor events where you are constructing the stage and all the support systems, you will likely fall under the construction guidelines. Of course this all changes when you are in a state that has it's own version of OSHA.

    As part of my job, my employer requires the completion of the OSHA 10-hour training session plus additional courses that are more specific to our industry.

    OSHA will do an inspection of your facility without penalties if you ask them to come and visit. However, many members of management avoid this because they fear what the inspector will find and require to be fixed. You might be surprised at some of the infractions your facility may have at this very moment that could cost thousands of dollars.

    I'm sure the person who was quoted felt that since most productions are temporary, that OSHA ignores us. That too is untrue. We just have the evidence taken care of in a timely manner that we usually don't get fined. The other problem is that we use a lot of volunteers. If you are working without pay, you are not covered under OSHA.

    Please take the advice Derek received with a grain of salt. Remember, OSHA requires that we follow the NFPA and the NEC subset where there are specific regulations that apply to our industry. That alone negates the comment.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2009
  7. jneveaux

    jneveaux Member

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    So when you discuss with the safety engineer, fire marshall or building inspector using an orchestra pit that is not separated from the audience (and the front aisle of the house - a fire aisle) what arguments do you use and what code sections do you tell the inspector do or do not apply? (in order not to have to construct a 42" iron railing.) NFPA? NEC? OSHA? IBC?
     
  8. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Being that I am not the AHJ, I would not tell the inspector what does and does not apply. I can only speak from experience in dealing with OSHA inspectors as well as the OSHA training that I have received including the completion of the OSHA 10-hour coursework.

    In your example, what orchestra pit would not be separated from the audience? Every venue that I have worked in has had a sufficient barrier between the audience and the pit. Where the trick comes in is between the stage and the orchestra pit. In many houses, you have a defined barrier being a distance between the pit and the acceptable working area being approximately six feet. In small houses where there would not be that distance available, most designers would have the floor of the orchestra pit at a difference of height to that of the stage be less than six feet, thus negating the OSHA requirement of a barrier or other methods of fall protection. While working in the theater and the six foot area may be breached, such as during a load-in or strike, every company that I have worked for has policy to reinforce that deliniation with a warning barrier (rope with flags or some other visual/physical means) and with proper training to prevent anyone from exceeding that limitation.

    Trust me, OSHA does apply to any and all industry in the United States where there are employed individuals. since we have many instances in our industry that apply in the grey area between the General Industry standards and the Construction standards, most OSHA inspectors will look at the industry adopted standards which is the reason why organizations like USITT and ESTA work at creating and submitting these to ANSI. At that point, precedent can be set in the court systems allowing for how incidents of property damage, injury, or death can be resolved. You will not, however, see acceptable standards for doing common practices such as pushing a single man lift along the stage in the erect position or with anyone in the basket. That is why in the article I posted, the opera was fined so heavily. Of course, states with their own occupational safety and heath regulations may work in a slightly different manner.
     

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