Again we hear of another stage collapsing and killing someone. This time the event happened in Trieste. The stage was being built for Italian rocker Jovanotti, who was forced to cancel his show when the stage collapsed and kill a 20 year old construction worker. Eight others that were also working on the construction of the staging were also injured. Italian news agency ANSA reported that rescue crews said the stage was nearing completion when the front buckled and collapsed, crushing workers with scaffolding. One thing that has come apparent from the media is that the person killed was a worker- student. This strikes as the person may have been of a lower skill level that others. Much like an apprentice is in Australia. Not that this would necessarily be the cause of the stage collapse, but may have contributed to his death. As he may have not known how to cope with things as it went pear-shaped around him.
Now this is not an isolated event, there have been many stage collapses in recent history. some have been indoors, some outdoors. There has been many agents that have caused these collapses but there is one core ingredient that seems to be in all of these incidents. That is the human element. This is the common thread in all of these events. So what part does the human element play? Well it could be as simple as fatigue or as complex as money.
So lets us look towards money, it could be simply the show must go on as we have invested a truck load and we need the money from ticket sales to make a profit. So the pressure is on to finish the task quickly, or pray the bad weather is going to lessen. Or maybe someone thought it was cost effective to slip some Chinese truss in – well it looked the same. Has someone spent the money on making sure the truss and rigging equipment and hardware is still up to standard? Money does have an amazing impact on the staging of a show but not always in a positive way as you can see. But it is still a human element as it is controlled by someone.
The other human elements that can be factored in are skills and fatigue. These have a major effect on how a task is completed and if it is completed well. Fatigue has always been a problem with touring concerts, and the only solution is more effective crew management by the production manager. Training is also an issue, do all the staff have the correct amount of training and experience to actually complete the tasks that are often asked of them. Often crew members are keen to do tasks that are asked of them and will say yes when asked, without thinking about if the have the knowledge. You sometimes find that crew members are not willing to say no I do not know how to do that task or even ask for guidance on how to do said task. They do not want to appear “dumb”. When we all know that the dumb question is the question never asked.
Training and experience are a major key to successful and safe shows. The more skills that staff have the better they are able to complete their set tasks and the safer it should be. But wait does that not cost money? It certainly does so it seems that maybe money is the primary cause of a lots of problems. Maybe the primary element is not the human element but the money element as it affects all other elements in regards to safety. If you take short cuts it might affect safety.
I am not saying that this is the direct cause of these disasters but it could be a key element in a lot of them.