Safety Guide for Worldwide Outdoor Events Lauded

December 3, 2013

A comprehensive safety guide for outdoor concerts that was spurred by the 2011 Indiana State Fair stage collapse will now bring lessons from that tragedy to venues worldwide.

The Event Safety Alliance announced the release of the first guide in Las Vegas recently and says it provides best practices for emergency planning, weather preparedness, and temporary staging, rigging and special effects.outdoor concert stage

The guidelines are modeled after the “Purple Guide,” a 200-page document used in the United Kingdom that addresses everything from stage design to ways to safely usher fans in and out of venues. They address the same safety issues that emerged from the investigation into the August 2011, stage collapse that killed seven people and injured dozens.

Stage collapse survivor Jill Polet of Cincinnati welcomed the guidelines but told WTHR-TV it was “`shameful” that none existed prior to the collapse, which occurred when high winds toppled the stage rigging just before a concert by country duo Sugarland.

“It’s scary,” she said of the lack of previous regulations.

Polet and her daughter, Jaymie, suffered life-threatening injuries but are doing well now. A friend who was in the area next to the stage known as the Sugar Pit wasn’t as fortunate and is among the seven people killed.

The push to develop worldwide standards began last year in Indianapolis when members of the entertainment industry met with state officials and discussed what they had learned.

Two investigations into the collapse found that the stage rigging that toppled onto fans did not meet industry safety standards and that elements of that structure were “grossly inadequate.” They also determined that the tragedy was compounded by the absence of a fully developed emergency plan and “an ambiguity of authority” that resulted in confusion and uncertainty over who was in charge of public safety.

Polet said it’s important to have guidelines to protect everyone at events, whether they are employees, fans or performers and their crews. A security guard, a stagehand and fans were among the victims of the Indiana collapse.

“It’s not just the audience. It’s the police, it’s security, it’s everyone who works the fairs and concerts. It’s the crew, it’s everybody,” Polet said.

Polet said she and her daughters haven’t attended a concert since the state fair collapse.

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