Well I suppose we should have expected it – another stage has collapsed and killed one and injured three people. This time it has happened at Downsview Park in Toronto, Canada and the stage collapsed in advance of a scheduled RadioHead concert. According to one eye witness there where 10 to 15 backstage workers on stage at the time that the structure collapsed. One witness commented on the fact that it was windy, but so far there is no indication of what has caused the roof of the structure to collapse. This collapse while a tragedy it could have been much worse if there had been an audience present.
The show was a sell out and the expected audience was 40,000. This collapse happened while there were only a few hundred folks on site setting up as it happened around 4pm. Obviously there is going to be a lot of speculation about haw this tragedy happened and what factors are involved. So far the speculation has ranged from the wind, to overloaded structure, to dodgy equipment. But whatever else is said only a proper investigation is going to reveal the cause of this stage collapse. Canada has a very pro-active occupational health and safety organization.
This is becoming a familiar story. Now this is the 4th stage collapse this year, with two in Italy, one in Jerusalem and now this in Toronto. What are we to do to prevent this sort of thing happening? What does this mean for Australia? We are lucky that we have not had any major incident were someone has died. Have we so far dodged a bullet? It would seem so. We now need to get behind the eight ball and start to look at our own industry and see what we can do to make it safer. There would be nothing worse if we had a tragedy and the government stepped in with their jackboots and stomped all over us. There would then be a nightmare of legislation and rules etc. that would make it extremely difficult for anyone to put on an outdoor event. Especially one that had any kind of temporary structure built. We as an industry need to set up our own dialogue and work together to make recommendations about how we think our safety can be improved. It is not just large events that we need to make safer, what about all of the small outdoor events. Events such as a local council’s Carols Night or Anzac ceremony? These often involve well-meaning people that do not necessarily have the training required to make sure the event goes off without a hitch. It will be fine writing a standard or procedures and policy, but we need to make sure people know what they are and are trained in them. This is why events like the National Live Entertainment & Event Industry Safety Summit on 19th July, at the ENTECH CONNECT 2012 is so important.
We all need to have our say our safety. So don’t sit there silently, if you don’t speak up it may be too late.
I will update this story as info comes to hand.
Futher Possible Info.
UPDATE: It seems that the stage was owned by Live Nation and they hired Nasco Staffing Solutions (local labor company) to assemble the stage. The lighting, video and automation system that radiohead was touring with overloaded the stage and caused the collapse. But this may be conjecture. As I get more info I will post.
It seems that the guy who died was Scott Johnson, Radiohead’s drum tech. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.