Structural staging for events almost seems to materialize right before your eyes. It’s impressive, to be sure. But most non-AV folks don’t think about what it really takes to set up and tear down, or how critical event safety is during those processes. Equipment is heavy, and it’s fragile. So are human bodies. Rigging all that heavy equipment can be dangerous if you don't take proper safety precautions.
No one wants injuries whether minor or catastrophic. Following these tips will help ensure your event production staff and crew stay safe during setup and teardown.
- Communicate clearly. Engineers need up-to-date details in order to plan and execute your event setup. It's always a good idea to include your AV pro in event planning right from the start. You'll get professional input to create the best production possible, and the AV professional will get first-hand knowledge of your rigging and related needs. Without that, crews have to make do on the fly, which invites event safety problems.
- Always wear appropriate personal safety equipment. Falls are preventable, but personal protective equipment won’t do you any good if it’s not on your body. Check things over first, look for signs of wear, and test buckles or other fasteners to make sure they're in good condition and working properly. Buddy up with another crew member for a second set of eyes.
- Check cables for damage before you plug them in, let alone turn anything on. Use your eyes and run your hands over them, feeling for nicks or scuffs. That goes for all your rigging components, too. This is a good time to make sure all the connections are compatible. Inspect equipment again as you’re striking.
- Cover and protect cables. If you're hosting a large event, chances are you'll have cables running along the floor in the middle of heavy or semi-heavy foot traffic. Place the proper covers over these types of cables to prevent a tripping hazard. In the case of an outdoor event, these covers protect cables from rain and people from electric shock.
- Protect rigging, hoists, and any other metallic equipment. Ongoing preventive maintenance helps avoid rust and corrosion. But don’t use that as an excuse to skip frequent inspections. When it comes to hoists, if you’re using a CM Lodestar, remember it has two voltage settings. Check to be sure you’re using the right one.
- Rig carefully. Make sure loads are positioned in the bowl, or saddle, of hooks, where capacity is greatest. If you’re using a portable truss tower, make certain it can withstand predicted winds. Also, make sure weather monitoring systems are in place and are backed by an emergency plan.
- Never raise a scissor-lift or similar equipment without a visual inspection and operational check. Always keep safety precautions front of mind when you’re working at height.
- Don’t take shortcuts, and don’t rush. Trying to do things too quickly is a surefire way to make a mistake. Take your time and avoid errors that could put everyone and everything in serious jeopardy.
Prevention is Time Well Spent
No matter how well you maintain your equipment, wear and tear happens. That’s why so many of these tips focus on pre-work inspection. Assuming everything is fine can have terrible consequences. But the time you take to double-check equipment could mean the difference between a safe, flawless production and serious injury to a staff or crew member. It's a simple investment to ensure event safety.