- Our industry has many dangers, and rarely a year goes by that we don't hear about the death of a fellow stagehand in America. Safety can't be stressed enough and here are some pointers:
* Communication is the biggest key to safety. Call out and listen to everything that is happening.
* Lift with your legs in a straight motion. Take care of your back now; you'll need it again tomorrow. And never hesitate to ask for help with something heavy or awkward.
---Don't be a hero: that's how people get hurt.
* Our arenas require that HARD HATS be worn by everyone while riggers are in the air. They can be provided, but it is advised that you purchase your own at some point so you don't have to share.
* "Heads" or "heads up" is one of the most important warnings on the stage. If you hear this call, that means something is coming down, either intentionally or accidentally.
Remember that the stage is a 3 dimentional world; be aware of what is happening around you in all directions including above. If you hear someone yell "heads," it means look out! --Do not stand under the loading rail whenever weights are being loaded or unloaded.
* If you see something about to go wrong, the only thing you should yell is "STOP".
People don't always respond to "Whoa", "Hey", "Hold", or "Ope".
Get in the habit of saying and hearing "STOP".
* Any injury should be reported to the job steward right away. It may or may not seem worth it, but report it anyway. If it becomes a bigger injury later, you are going to want that paperwork for Workman's Compensation. If it is not filed within time limits, you may be ineligible.
* Minor first aid is always available. Take advantage of it for everyone's safety and health.
* Remember that a forklift driver never has perfect field of vision, but when a forklift has a full load, the driver's vision is very limited. Get out of their way!
* If you will be working more than a few feet off the floor, whether on the grid, flyrail, or only a ladder, there is always a chance of dropping something on someone.
Empty your pockets of ALL items unnecessary to the job. Leave your wallet, phone and other personal items in your car or with a trusted co-worker.
Carry only the tools you really need for the task. Any tool carried with you must have a wrist strap or tether line tied to your belt. And don't forget to take your tools down from the top of the ladder when you come down.
Above all, if you drop something, yell "heads" as loud as you can so that your potential victims below have a chance to clear out of the path.
* Stage work is heavy, swift and sometimes dirty work - fashion should come second to function always. Wear something loose enough to allow you to move freely and not so loose that it will get caught. Don't wear valuable clothing as you will often get very dirty, and you may even tear your clothing.
Clothing with words and images should be appropriate for all audiences.
* In summer we work in extreme heat outdoors. Be prepared for heat, dehydration and direct sunlight.
* In the winter, we often load and unload trucks outdoors (especially in the Peoria Civic Center theater). It could be below zero and we will still have to work. Dress warm and in layers so that you can come inside and work when you are done pushing.
* Ear plugs are always a good idea at concerts. You can buy them at drug stores for low prices. They are available if you ask your steward.
* No dangly earrings, necklaces, bracelets. Avoid rings whenever possible.
Restrain long hair with a ponytail, braid or bandana.
* Some tasks require a lot of crawling around on the floor. Knee pads will help keep your knees in good shape.
All venues should be equipped with MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets) for information about any hazardous materials and the safety and medical practices pertaining to them. Know where this book is.
Know where any safety gear is available before starting a task. If you at all feel like goggles, gloves, a helmet, a mask, or any other safety item would improve your safety, do not hesitate to ask your steward. These items should always be at your disposal.
Sometimes a show call will involve dry ice for fog machines. Dry ice can cause damage to skin due to extremely low
temperatures. It is a good idea to wear goggles and gloves when handling dry ice. And if you need to break up the ice, wrap it in a towel to prevent it from flying around.
There are 4 main types of fire extinguishers:
Class A extinguishers will put out fires in ordinary combustibles such as wood and paper
Class B extinguishers are for use on flammable liquids like grease, gasoline and oil
Class C extinguishers are suitable for use only on electrically energized fires
Class D extinguishers are designed for use on flammable metals
To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:
Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
All theaters are equipped with a Fire Curtain. This is a large fire-proof curtain that can be dropped in less than 30 seconds with the pulling of a pin. It separates the stage from the house to prevent fire from spreading. The path of the fire curtain, sometimes called the Smoke Pocket, should be kept clear at al times.