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BSR E1.46 Fall Protection Project Started
2012-04-03

A new project has been filed with ANSI--BSR E1.46, Recommended Practice for the Prevention of Falls from Theatrical Stages and Raised Performance Platforms-- to develop a guidance document for planning fall protection to help prevent falls from stages, raised platforms, and into open traps. Fall protection is mandatory in the US for employees and good management for all others, but guidance is needed on how to provide this in a theatrical environment.

There are many fall protection methods, but they are not all appropriate for all theatrical environments at all times. A guard rail complying with US 29 CFR 1926.502(b), for example, is a good, no-brainer way of protecting people from falls, but a beefy guardrail across the front of the stage usually doesn’t look good during a show. OSHA inspectors understand that a guardrail across a stage apron may not be appropriate fall protection during a show, but they will insist that something be done. In any case, no one wants to be in the whole world of trouble mentioned above. We need to keep people from falling from theatrical stages and raised performance platforms, no matter what their employment status or what is happening on stage.

There are many devices and work practices that can be effective for preventing fall injuries, but which is the best for any particular situation depends on the event or activities on stage and who it is that needs to be protected. (Members of the public can’t be counted on to know that straight downstage is not the fastest way to the house.) E1.46 will help facility designers and event planners figure out what fall protection will work best for them.

The Floors Working Group will be taking up this project. Its voting membership has a good sampling of industry interest categories, but the membership is small. Anyone with a material interest in this fall protection project is invited to join as a voting member. We are particularly interested in people who might be in the dealer/rental company and designer interest categories. The former might be companies who would sell and install removable guardrails or edge-marking systems. The latter would include architects and theatre consultants. See http://tsp.plasa.org/tsp/working_groups/index.html for more information about becoming involved in the Technical Standards Program.

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