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Safety Factor

The Pillars of Planning: A Look at the ESA’s 2017 Event Safety Summit

Jacob Worley • March 2018 Safety Factor • March 12, 2018
In our industry, most professionals agree that planning for safety has become an essential part of the event production process. What is often less clear are the details — what should we prepare for, and where do we begin? Read More...
The 58 “Crosses for Losses” near the Welcome to Las Vegas sign commemorate victims of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting Oct. 1. The crosses will be moved to the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas on Nov. 12.

Beyond Safety’s Reach

PLSN Staff • November 2017 Safety Factor • November 9, 2017

Las Vegas Shooting Shows That Even Best Practices Can’t Make Events Completely Safe

The real-life nightmare that unfolded during the closing performance by headliner Jason Aldean at the Route 91 Harvest Festival defied just about every best-practices precaution that could have been deployed to keep the performers, crew and 22,000 concert attendees safe.

Washington DC was among the cities that organized vigils in support of the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. Photo by Ted Eytan.

The New Normal

PLSN Staff • Safety Factor • August 13, 2016

Bumping into an old tour mate and uttering a single word can recall a whole slew of events about a day, venue, person or even an entire tour. This shorthand form of communication develops out of the day-to-day way efficient and expeditious crews talk to one another as a tour progresses.

Photo by George Hodan

Shelter from the Storm: Lightning Preparedness for Live Events

PLSN Staff • Safety Factor • February 17, 2016

Orlando, Florida is a town built on crowds, a sea of humanity in juxtaposition with what would otherwise be a lush Jurassic world. Considered the “theme park capital of the world,” the area is home to such family-friendly attractions as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. It’s also home to the mammoth campus of the University of Central Florida and is an outpost of the ever-expanding Electric Daisy Carnival empire. The area also has the less-inviting distinction of being the “lightning capital of the United States,” with an astounding 1.4 million lightning strikes resulting in an average of 10 deaths and 30 injuries annually. Read More...

Having a weather emergency plan in place helped the author and others evacuate this Mojave Desert gig before gale force winds brought the structure crashing down.

Weather vs. Lighting Designer

PLSN Staff • Safety Factor • March 12, 2015

Even if Oscar Wilde did once say “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative,” we all still love to talk about the weather. And, sooner or later, we will all have to do a show outside, or at the very least in a tent.


Perfect Storm Helps Live Event Productions Prepare for Destructive Weather

PLSN Staff • Safety Factor • December 17, 2014

Anyone who has ever worked an outdoor show seems to have a story to share about how the weather almost defeated them. My go-to tale happened at a casino just outside of Omaha, NE. It was one of those sticky, late-July days when humidity hung heavy in the air. Doors were set for 4 pm, but by 3:30, anxious audience members had already abandoned the comfortable temperature of the casino to gather at the entrance of the large general admissions field we called our office that day.

Show Distribution’s gear is equipped with Harting’s Han-Yellock modular connectors.

Giving Rigging Components the Torture Test

PLSN Staff • Safety Factor • November 26, 2014

The show must go on. In rare cases it doesn’t, of course, because of an act of nature or man, but Show Distribution, based in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, has taken a stance with zero tolerance for equipment failures. So when the company chose a modular connector to do the job of three single-purpose connectors on the controllers of a new high-speed servo hoist, it put the new connector through a torture test of sorts. Read More...

ESA president Jim Digby

Event Safety Alliance Moves Into Next Phase

PLSN Staff • Safety Factor • September 11, 2014

In what began as a conversation involving concerned live event professionals the month after the Indiana State Fair stage collapse in August 2011, the Event Safety Alliance (ESA) is expanding its influence over event safety in North America. As it celebrates its unofficial third year this month (it incorporated in February of 2012), the ESA has made solid progress in their quest to align the industry with best practices in live event safety guidelines. A four-day training session, a new strategic partnership, a new headquarters, and The Event Safety Guide are some of their recent accomplishments. Read More...

New tools provide a better look at nasty weather that might be coming your way. Far from the vague, county-by-county watches and warnings of yesteryear, today's mobile devices provide a more granular look. In the alert pictured here, the red box is the extent of the tornado warning; if you are outside the red box then the NWS does not consider that storm to be a threat to you at that point.

Wireless Emergency Alerts

PLSN Staff • Safety Factor • May 9, 2014

It’s spring, and that means the start of severe weather season, and also the time when many of us in show business start working on outdoor shows. I’ve done a lot of outdoor shows, and I’m also a storm chaser and weather geek, so when I’m on an outdoor show site, I’m often running real-time radar on my laptop in addition to my sound system alignment software.

Photo by George Dodworth/Lightwave International

Laser Safety Regulations: An Overview

PLSN Staff • Safety Factor • February 12, 2014

Not sure about getting lased for the first time? If you haven’t been sat down for “the talk,” you’re likely confused about the paperwork and procedures needed to include laser special effects in your production. Even the most seasoned professionals may have inaccurate laser information from word-of-mouth. What works for lasers in New York City might not in London, Melbourne or the state of Arizona. Here is an overview of factors that laserists, lighting designers and others need to consider when staging shows and touring with laser effects. Read More...

Fig. 1: Nomenclature for Truss Components

Dents, Bends, Abrasions and Twists: Considerations for Truss Inspection

PLSN Staff • Safety Factor • July 11, 2013

Safety is a huge concern for the live event production industry. This article focuses on a critical component: Inspecting truss. Aluminum truss is widely used in a multitude of applications, from theatre to concerts to exhibitions to outdoor structures.  It is purpose-built for very specific loads. Because of that purpose-built aspect, truss doesn’t fit into the usual realm of safety factors that entertainment industry veterans reference for other rigging hardware like shackles, wire rope or hoists.  Therefore, considering that the truss can be one of the most crucial components of a rigging system, it is imperative that there are assurances it is in the proper condition for use. Read More...

Clive Forrester, All Access Staging & Productions

“Roof Structures” or “Stages?”

PLSN Staff • Safety Factor • December 9, 2012

The Wrong Choice of Words Can Be Costly

Stories of so-called “stage collapses” have recently swept the entertainment industry, the nation and the world. As a staging professional for over 20 years, I was both saddened by the tragedies and dismayed by the incongruent journalism. The damage sustained during the recent collapses involved equipment falling from above onto innocent bystanders below. A stage, of course, is a raised platform, which is walked upon, while a roof covers a stage and hangs overhead. Reading these stories of “stage collapses,” I quickly grasped that a roof structure was actually the equipment in question. In the staging industry, we are now realizing that the mis-education of the public has costly and far-reaching consequences in terms contracts and insurance.


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