Stage Safety 101

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Staging Safety Issues

These are some items to be aware of (not necessarily in order of importance):

  • The sets and ALL soft goods used should be flame-retardant and have written certification.

  • Soft goods and sets must be kept a safe distance from any lighting fixtures both in their playing position and in their stored position. Hot lights can start a fire very quickly.

  • All cabling must be taped down securely, especially where performers or stage hands may cross.

  • If there is any possibility of performers falling off the rear of the stage a safety railing should be installed.

  • Back stage “escape” stairs should have safety railings.

  • The edges of all step units should be taped in a contrasting color so those exiting will clearly see the step outlines.

  • All scenery must be securely braced to restrict ANY movement. Special attention must be paid to sets and backdrops out doors where wind becomes a considerable factor.

  • Never block any fire exits. If an exit is hidden by drapery or decor an additional temporary EXIT sign is a good idea.

  • The stage itself must be able to safely support the loads to which it will be subjected. Any lateral (side to side) movement is unacceptable. If the stage feels soft or yields under foot corrective measures must be taken before use. Any stage covering such as carpet or dance floor should be securely stapled or taped to the deck.

  • Step units must provide an acceptable rise and tread. Usually a rise of between 6” and 8” is acceptable, the tread depth should be about 12” – 15”. Exceptions might be step units built into sets which have adequate safety railings and where allowance is made for performers to rehearse on them beforehand.

  • If sets are rigged (flown) from overhead structures, support cables of sufficient strength must be used. A general rule of thumb is that the safe working load (not the breaking strength) of the supporting line and all corresponding hardware be at least 5 times the actual weight to be supported.