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Rigging Systems and Fall Arrest
Safety Guideline for the Live Performance Industry in Ontario

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Definitions

Counterweight system
A type of rigging system using steel cables, blocks (possibly), a pipe batten, and counter-balanced weights placed in an arbor.
Flown scenery
Scenery shifted by raising or lowering it vertically over the acting area by rope-line rigging or a counterweight system.
Fouling
Unintentionally entangling scenery, flown lights, drops, borders, etc.
Pick-up points
The points where ropes are attached to theatrical equipment to fly it.
Pocket
A tube sewn into the bottom of a soft flown scenic unit, into which chain or pipe is inserted to stretch or straighten the unit.
Rigging
All the activities involved in preparing theatrical equipment when it is first taken to the stage.
Rigging equipment
All the hardware, including the system itself, which is used to fly theatrical equipment.
Rigging system
The method for raising and lowering theatrical equipment vertically by means of blocks and ropes or steel cables; may include a batten.
Safetied
Having provided a secondary system of securing items that are stored overhead.
Scenic unit
An individual piece or assembly of scenery used onstage.
Turn-buckle
A hardware device for closely adjusting the length of a rope or cable. Consists of opposing right-and left-handed screws so arranged that turning a centre element shortens or lengthens the cable.

Operation and Maintenance of Permanent Rigging Systems

  1. The owner of rigging equipment should ensure that proper equipment is used as intended and within the designed safety factor. The owner should ensure that all equipment is properly operated and maintained by a competent person.
  2. The methods and frequency of maintenance of a rigging system should be determined by the owner or by a contractor on behalf of the owner in accordance with:
  3. The maintenance of a rigging system should include:
    • an inspection and examination by a competent person at least once a year of all parts and functions of the rigging system (Items that receive frequent use or considerable wear should be inspected more often.);
    • cleaning, lubricating and adjusting all parts of the rigging system at regular intervals, and repairing or replacing worn or defective components;
    • repairing or replacing damaged or broken parts.
  4. The inspector should be satisfied that the rigging system is in a safe operating condition and that the parts and functions will remain in a safe operating condition until the next scheduled inspection and examination.
  5. A permanent log of maintenance and inspections should be kept. All entries should be signed by the inspector and verified by the owner or designate.
  6. Where a part of a rigging system is replaced for any reason, the replacement part should be at least equivalent to the original part as supplied by the manufacturer or as specified in the design submission.
  7. The operator should have such knowledge of and experience in operating the rigging system that,
    • the operator is able to operate the rigging system safely without supervision;
    • the operator is aware of all likely hazards in using the rigging equipment.

Temporary Flown Scenery – Hard or Framed

  1. The construction of individual pieces of flown scenic units, and the assembly of the pieces into the unit(s), will be done by a competent person or approved by a supervisor.
  2. In constructing pieces of hard or framed scenic units to be flown, all elements should be joined by gluing and screwing or bolting or welding or an equivalent permanent method of joinery.
  3. In flown units, pieces that move and that may create fouling hazards or may change the balance of the unit in the air should be secured before the unit is flown.
  4. The pins of hinges used in the assembly of flown units should be safetied to the unit.
  5. All load-bearing or potentially load-bearing hardware should be bolted or welded to the piece.
  6. The assembled unit should be inspected by a competent person or supervisor before the unit is flown.

Temporary Flown Scenery – Pick-up Points and Lines

  1. The number and placement of the pick-up points on a flown unit should be adequate to prevent any undue stress on or sagging within the unit.
  2. The pick-up points on a flown unit should be placed to ensure the structural integrity of the unit. All flying hardware should be bolted or welded to the flown unit.

Temporary Flown Scenery – Soft

  1. Bottom pipe or chain in a pipe or chain pocket should be fastened securely to prevent the pipe or chain from falling out of the pocket.
  2. The spacing and strength of ties should be adequate for the weight of the piece.

Temporary Flown Scenery – Rigging

  1. All ropes, chains, bolts, clamps and other elements of the rigging of a flown unit should be of appropriate size and strength for the load that they will bear. Manufacturers' recommendations and guidelines for the use of such materials should be followed where available.
  2. The minimum strength-to-load ratio for the elements of the rigging of a flown unit is eight-to-one.
  3. Turn-buckles, trim chains and other devices for the adjustment of the trim of a flown unit should be secured in position.
  4. Any ropes, chains or other lines on which scenery is flown should be safely terminated and secured.

Fall Arrest Systems and Equipment

  1. Fall arrest practices, procedures and equipment are specified in section 85 of the Regulations under the Act.

NOTE:

Section 2 of the Regulations permits alternative, equivalent arrangements. The Regulations for Window Cleaners and Construction Projects should be consulted for alternative fall arrest systems.

More Information

Call toll-free

Call 1-877-202-0008 anytime to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. For general inquiries about workplace health and safety and to report potentially unsafe work conditions, call 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. In an emergency, always call 911 immediately.

Publications

1. Regulations for Construction Projects

2. Regulations for Window Cleaning

Hardcopies of these publications can be ordered:

Online at www.publications.serviceontario.ca

By phone through the ServiceOntario Contact Centre

Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm

  • (416) 326–5300
  • (416) 326–3408 (TTY)
  • 1 800 668–9938 Toll–free across Canada
  • 1 800 268–7095 TTY Toll–free across Ontario

Acknowledgements

The Ontario Advisory Committee for Health and Safety in Live Performance is made up of professionals in live performance from across the province – large and small, commercial and not-for-profit, service organizations and professional associations. We have had input from individual experts both national and international. The Advisory Committee and the Ministry of Labour would like to thank the following people for their help in making this guideline possible.

* Indicates a main committee member at the time the sub-committee was active.

  • Bonnie Armstrong*
  • Ron A. Epp, IATSE, Local 461
  • Stan Fernandez, Engineer, Ministry of Labour
  • Victor Svenningson, Manager, Technical Services, Harbourfront

ISBN 978-1-4435-9717-3 (HTML)

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.