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Union to Implement Safety Training Program

By Peter Levine posted in Employment Law on September 24th, 2013

Seven people killed in rigging collapse

A settlement has been reached for a stagehands union that was fined $11,500 when seven people were killed during a Sugarland performance at the Indiana State Fair when the stage rigging collapsed onto the crowd on August 23, 2011.

In compliance with the agreement, the union must now work with the state department of labor to implement a new safety training program that includes fall protection and hazard identification training. This training will also be added to its apprenticeship program. It will be a required of each new union member that they complete the safety course.

The settlement was signed by Indiana’s deputy labor commissioner and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 30’s business manager and absolves the union of the penalty.

IOSHA Fines for Serious Violations

The union was fined by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration in early 2012 after the IOSHA found three serious violations in addition to one non-serious violation in connection with the stage rigging accident. Those violations included the agency’s finding that the union failed to ensure “reasonably safe and healthful” work conditions that were free of hazards that could cause death or injuries.

Seven people were fatally injured when high winds caused the stage rigging as well as the stage roof to collapse and topple onto fans awaiting the concert. Stagehand Nathan Byrd was among these seven people, and several other stagehands were among the more than 40 people injured during the incident.

The union appealed IOSHA’s order, including the finding that the union, not the Indiana State Fair Commission, was the employer of the stagehands working the concert. The union contended that it only provided workers to the State Fair Commission and stage owner Mid-America Sound Corp.
Indiana Labor Commissioner Sean Keefer said that the agreement “creates a safer and more protected workplace for Indiana workers in the theater and stage business.”

John Baldwin, the union’s business manager, said that the settlement avoids litigation and is beneficial for the union. “We want to ensure that everybody’s trained and all the workplaces are safe,” Baldwin said. “It will help workers recognize hazards and make them able to look at things and see if there is a potential hazard that needs to be corrected.”

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