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Entertainment and Venue Rigging
Entertainment and Venue Rigging

This chapter is sponsored by Pollard Productions

Precis

(Revised 20 November 2017)

Entertainment and Venue rigging play a big role in every live performance production. Entertainment rigging can be broadly broken down into 4 categories: Arena, Theatre, Ballroom and Exhibition. Film and Video rigging is a whole separate and specialised area, maybe for future editions.

Rigging as such is defined in the WHS Regulation which means that specific conditions must be met to satisfy the requirements. Rigging as defined in the WHS Regulation is considered a High Risk activity and appropriate High Risk Work licences are required for most of the rigging work. Rigging will often also include ‘Working at Height’ (see Chapter 8) and the use of plant such as EWP for which additional licences are required.

Suspending objects above people, whether performers, crew or audiences, can be lethal if not approached with great care, knowledge and experience. Complicated calculations may require input from qualified engineers.

The main factor here is plant which is covered in many areas of the Act and the Regulation.

For this chapter we will focus on Clause 219 Plant that lifts or suspends loads and Clause 220 Exception—plant not specifically designed to lift or suspend a person.

9.1 Referenced documents:

WHS Regulation 2011

Code of Practice – How to manage work health and safety risks

Code of Practice – Working at Height

AS/NZS3760:2010 – In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment

AS4497.2:1997 – Roundslings – Synthetic fibre – Care and use

AS1418.1:2002 – Cranes, hoists and winches General requirements

AS1418.2:1997 – Cranes (including hoists and winches) – Serial hoists and winches

AS2741:2014 – Shackles

AS1666.2:2009 – Wire Rope Slings – Product Specification – Care and Use

AS2550.1:2011 – Cranes, hoists and winches – Safe use – General requirements

International Code of Practice for Entertainment Rigging – ESTA and PLASA publication, for guidance only.

9.2 Definitions

The definitions and competency levels of High Risk Licences (Rigging) and references to the WHS Regulation can be found at the end of the chapter. There are no Australian Standards in relation to the common aluminium or steel truss in use in the entertainment industry. But there are duties and obligations for the manufacturers’ and providers of truss.

9.2.1 WHS Regulation.

There are many references in the WHS Regulation that apply to rigging, although not specifically to the entertainment industry.

First of all here are the definitions of plant and hoist:

plant includes:

(a) any machinery, equipment, appliance, container, implement and

tool, and

(b) any component of any of those things, and

(c) anything fitted or connected to any of those things.

hoist means an appliance intended for raising or lowering a load or people, and includes an elevating work platform, a mast climbing work platform, personnel and materials hoist, scaffolding hoist and serial hoist, but does not include a lift or building maintenance equipment.

9.3 High risk work licences

NOTE: The Victorian OHS Regulation and the WA OHS Regulations use very similar descriptions but a cross reference is highly recommended.

Clause 5 Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
Rigging work means:
(a) the use of mechanical load shifting equipment and associated gear to move, place or secure a load using plant, equipment or members of a structure to ensure the stability of those members,
or
(b) the setting up or dismantling of cranes or hoists.

9.3.1 Dogging

Dogging work

dogging work means:

(a) the application of slinging techniques, including the selection and inspection of lifting gear, to safely sling a load, or

(b) the directing of a plant operator in the movement of a load when the load is out of the operator’s view.

9.3.2 Basic rigging

(1) Dogging work

(2) Rigging work involving any of the following:

(a) structural steel erection,

(b) hoists,

(c) pre-cast concrete members of a structure,

(d) safety nets and static lines,

(e) mast climbing work platforms,

(f) perimeter safety screens and shutters,

(g) cantilevered crane loading platforms,

but excluding rigging work involving equipment, loads or tasks listed in Intermediate Rigging (b) to (f) and Advanced Rigging (b) to (e)

Clause 83 Chapter 4 – Part 4.5
(4) A person who carries out high risk work with a crane or hoist is not required to be licensed as a crane operator if:
(a) the work is limited to setting up or dismantling the crane or hoist, and
(b) the person carrying out the work holds a licence in relation to rigging, which qualifies the person to carry out the work.

9.3.3 Intermediate rigging

Rigging work involving any of the following:

(a) rigging work in the class Basic Rigging,

(b) hoists with jibs and self climbing hoists,

(c) cranes, conveyors, dredges and excavators,

(d) tilt slabs,

(e) demolition of structures or plant,

(f) dual lifts,

but excluding rigging work involving equipment

listed in Advanced Rigging (b) to (e)

9.3.4 Advanced rigging

Rigging work involving any of the following:

(a) rigging work in the class Intermediate Rigging,

(b) gin poles and shear legs,

(c) flying foxes and cable ways,

(d) guyed derricks and structures,

(e) suspended scaffolds and fabricated hung scaffolds

9.3.5 Entertainment Rigging

In response to calls from the international entertainment rigging community, rigging professionals from around the globe have voluntarily collaborated to create this International Code of Practice for Entertainment Rigging (ICOPER).

Recognition and acceptance of this universal code will help promote regulatory harmony and reduce potential conflicts between regions around the world. The resulting improvements in communications and relations with regional and local regulators will be particularly beneficial to those professionals involved in international production.

Acknowledging that regulations and standards differ around the world, ICOPER is not prescriptive, rather it provides a series of guidelines that, if followed, will produce uniformly predictable results and enhance safe practice. Adopting and supporting ICOPER therefore benefits everyone involved in event production.

The International Code of Practice for Entertainment Rigging (ICOPER) is available as a free download at www.esta.org/icoper or www.plasa.org/icoper

9.3.6 Theatrical Rigging

Please note that this is an industry definition and NOT supported in any legislation. All work defined as ‘theatrical rigging’ should be covered by a detailed Safe Work Method Statement or Standard Operating Procedure, based on a risk assessment for the work.

Definition: Attaching or suspending items, these tasks involve attaching items to a pre-existing/proprietary system using a standard method.

This work is often referred to as ‘theatrical rigging’, such as ‘rigging a light’, or ‘rigging sound/AV’. It is not rigging as defined by WHS regulations.

Examples

Hanging technical elements (lighting, sound, AV equipment) from a hook clamp

Attaching cloths, drapes, banners

Attaching scenery with a dedicated attachment point

Attaching styling/design elements

Attaching or running cables

Competence requirements

Follow task instruction (SWMS / SOP)

Site supervision

Following venue guidelines, including allowable weights for items

Following proprietary system manuals

9.4 Equipment

Note: a ‘competent person’ is a person who by their training and experience has the skills and knowledge to carry out the task.
– recommendations from published technical standards
– the age and history of the plant including the number of hours of operation and the type of loading the plant has undergone
– any time spent in transit – vibrational loads applied during transit can increase the fatigue of a crane, hoist or winch
– the conditions in which the item of plant operates – for example, in a corrosive or wet environment, or in abrasive conditions
– whether parts of the item of plant may be prone to failure or high wear – the manufacturer, supplier, authorised repairer, or a competent person may provide information on parts which need to be more frequently replaced.

9.4.1 Lifting Gear Inspections

How regularly should lifting gear be inspected? This is one of those questions to which there is no simple, single answer. Dogging specifies that all rigging equipment must be visually inspected before every use. It will then depend on the type of gear, the frequency in which it is used and which Australian Standard applies what other inspections are required. And there are different types of inspection that could be referred to:

9.4.1.a In-service Inspection

This is the basic visual inspection before each use. It expects you to have a good look at the equipment to make sure there is no significant damage or wear. You must also check that the WLL markings are legible and suitable. If any defects are noted, the equipment must be withdrawn from service and be inspected by a suitably qualified person to decide to repair or discard the equipment.

9.4.1.b Periodic Inspection

A periodic inspection is much more formal and may require specific skills, equipment and documentation. Periodic inspections will usually be carried out in a controlled environment with a focus on inspection, not use or installation of the equipment. Various Australian Standards outline the frequency and type of inspections required. Note that these inspections may include tests such as electrical safety in accordance with AS/NZS3760:2010.

9.4.1.c Frequency

Synthetic slings have a specified period of 3 months between inspections (not including the in-service check prior to each lift). For other types of lifting gear, it is up to the owner or manager of the equipment to determine what is adequate. As a guide, here are some common inspection frequencies that are used in Australia. If you are responsible for lifting and rigging gear, it is up to you to determine whether these frequencies are suitable, or whether a more frequent inspection program is needed.

  • Synthetic slings – 3 monthly,
    reference AS4497.2
  • Winches, Blocks and Hoists – 12 monthly for general use, 3 monthly for intensive use,
    reference AS2550
  • Chain and Wire Rope Slings – 12 monthly for general use, 3 monthly for intensive use,
    reference AS1666.2
  • Harnesses, lanyards, fall arrest devices – 6 monthly
    reference AS1891.4

9.4.2 Chainmotors

Despite progress around the world, there is still no Australian Standard for Entertainment Rigging Equipment

There is not even national guidance based on local or international codes. Permanently installed Stage machinery falls in a similar category. It could be argued that AS1418.1 Cranes, hoists and winches General requirements is specific regarding chain hoists, and therein lies the problem, the limitations make it impractical for use in the entertainment industry. The core issue with the conditions set-out in AS1418 is that chain-hoists cannot be used to suspend loads above people. This means you can lift the load, provided the area underneath is clear, but then you would need to put in a secondary suspension before anyone could work or stand under the suspended load.

9.4.3 International Codes

At present there are three dominant international “codes”, for want of a better word, for the selection and use of chain hoists;

UK BS9706-1 Code of practice for installation, use and removal of above stage equipment
Germany VPLT SR2.0 – BGV Code of Practice
USA BSR E1.6-3 – 201x, Selection and Use of Chain Hoists in the Entertainment Industry

At present, the UK and the German Codes seem to be preferred in Australia. It must be noted that neither is compulsory but it would be beneficial to determine which code would suit the industry best. In the long term it will be important to have a reference point that will be recognised across Australia and internationally.

9.4.3.a AS1418.1:2009 Cranes, hoists and winches General requirements

This is the current Australian Standard to which all chainhoists will need to comply.

The full Standard is available here: https://infostore.saiglobal.com/store/Details.aspx?ProductID=226944

Note that the AS1418.2 also refers to AS2550.1 – Cranes, hoists and winches – Safe use – General requirements and the two Standards ought to be reviewed together.

The following two examples apply to static loads only.

AS1418 Designed for “Normal Lifting Applications”

  • Operating and ultimate limit switches required,
  • single brake acting directly on drive train,
  • 5:1 safety factor,
  • load bearing clutch not permitted,
  • emergency stop required.
  • Secondary suspension required for suspended loads above people.

AS1418 Designed for “Special Lifting Applications” (suspend static load above people)

  • Operating and ultimate limit switches required,
  • 8:1 safety factor,
  • load bearing clutch not permitted,
  • emergency stop required,
  • either double brakes on a redundant drive train or double brakes where one brake is a full load output brake with over speed operation,
  • suitable for man-carrying.
  • No secondary suspension required for static loads above people.

9.4.3.b BS7906-1:2005 Code of practice for installation, use and removal of above stage equipment

Purchase available here: https://shop.bsigroup.com/Productdetail/?pid=000000000019989182

The UK have British Standards BS7905 – 1 Specification for the design and manufacture of above stage equipment and more specifically BS7906 – 1 Code of practice for installation, use and removal of above stage equipment. The primary object of this Code of Practice is to ensure that lifting operations in entertainment and similar applications are carried out safely. BS7906 – 2 is a Code of practice for use of aluminium and steel trusses and towers.

Standard rigging hoists meeting the BS 7906-1 Category B may be used for static suspension of loads, however it is essential to have a secondary suspension via safety steel, inertia reel or load arrestor. Category B hoists are units that are not intended by the manufacturer for lifting or suspending loads above people.

Rigging hoists meeting the BS 7906-1 Category A type may be used for static suspension of loads over people. Category A hoists are units that are intended by the manufacturer for lifting or suspending loads above people

Where the suspended load is required to move above people there are different requirements for mechanical and electrical safety. The British Standard BS 7906-1 adequately covers this situation for use in the UK but may not be applicable to Australia without a very thorough risk assessment.

9.4.3.c VPLT.SR2.0 BGV Codes of Practice for Event Technology

Download available here: VPLT.SR2.0.GB.2005.pdf

This German Code of Practice applies to the provision and use of electric chain hoists in the entertainment industry. Even in Germany it is not a legally binding Code but being endorsed by the insurance industry it has become the norm. The Code specifies 3 types of chain motor, each with a specific use in mind.

  • BGV-D8: Lowest classification. Not suitable for moving loads over persons and requiring secondary safety measures (static tethers or overspeed fall arrestors) to suspend loads over persons.
  • BGV-D8+: Enhanced BGV-D8 classification. Not suitable for moving loads over persons, but suitable for suspending loads over persons with no secondary safety measures.
  • BGV-C1: Highest classification. Suitable for moving and suspending loads over persons.

It is important to note that in order to comply with the BGV Code of Practice, the selection of the chain motor is only part of the process. The Code is very specific about the type of controllers used in BGV-C1 applications such as overload cutout at 120% and an underload cutout required for multiple lifts and guided loads.

9.4.3.d BSR E1.6-3 – 2012, Selection and Use of Chain Hoists in the Entertainment Industry

Download available here: http://tsp.esta.org/tsp/documents/published_docs.php

ANSI E1.6-3 – 2012 is part of the multi-part E1.6 powered rigging standards project. It establishes minimum safety requirements for the selection and use of serially manufactured electric link chain hoists having capacity of two tons or less in the entertainment industry. This part does not address the design or maintenance of these hoists.

This standard establishes minimum safety requirements for the selection and use of serially manufactured electric link chain hoists having capacity of 2 tons or less in the entertainment industry. This standard does not address the design or maintenance of these hoists.

The purpose of the document is to provide standards for the use of chain hoists in the entertainment industry. These standards are intended to reduce injury and provide for the protection of life, limb and property. This standard applies to hoists used in the entertainment industry including, but not limited to, hoists used in theatre, musical touring, film, trade show and television industries.

 

 

REVISION HISTORY:
Updated 21 November 2017