Paying Attention to Safety in Stage Design

It’s best for anyone involved in rigging to have some formal training. If not that, at least some informal training from an experienced rigger is recommended.

Paying Attention to Safety in Stage Design
All professional rigging comes with a weight rating marked on it. As a rule of thumb, I always use materials and rigging rated for five times the weight carried. This is to account for any sudden weight changes that could occur from a movement of the truss, scenic, or flown element.
Paying Attention to Safety in Stage Design
All professional rigging comes with a weight rating marked on it. As a rule of thumb, I always use materials and rigging rated for five times the weight carried. This is to account for any sudden weight changes that could occur from a movement of the truss, scenic, or flown element.

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Safety is of huge importance in production — especially in the church world. Each week, we get the privilege of inviting family and guests to our church home. It’s our responsibility to keep those in our building safe, so that they can experience the life change God has planned for them. This includes our stage designs.

Rigging Safety in Stage Design

One of the most vulnerable areas in church stage design safety is rigging. Rigging includes anything that is flown in the air. It’s best for anyone involved in rigging to have some formal training. If not that, at least some informal training from an experienced rigger is recommended. Although training is sometimes expensive, it is well worth it. Many local production and rigging vendors host rigging workshops. These are filled with great information.

Most of the time, people don’t mean to be unsafe.

Even without training, common sense can go a long way. You should never hang from a beam or surface without knowing what it can hold. You should also always know what weight a piece of hardware or material can hold. If hardware is not marked, you should assume that it’s not rated.

All professional rigging comes with a weight rating marked on it. As a rule of thumb, I always use materials and rigging rated for five times the weight carried. This is to account for any sudden weight changes that could occur from a movement of the truss, scenic, or flown element. For smaller elements like chain and U-bolts, look for pieces that have a safe working load at your local hardware store.

Fire Safety in Stage Design

Fire safety is also a huge concern for keeping your church family safe. Fires can consume and kill very swiftly.

In 2003, a fire at The Station nightclub killed 100 people. Although the fire was started by pyrotechnics that should not have been used in that venue, the building was fully engulfed in flames in only 5 five minutes (in large part due to the sound-proofing materials used in the room).

Take great care when choosing materials.  When using drape, only choose drape that is certified as flame retardant. Keep in mind that washing, repeated dry cleaning, surface dust accumulation, and other factors can affect the flame retardancy of fabric, even with fabric certified as inherently or permanently flame retardant. Have your drapery tested and re-certified by a certified fabric flame retardancy tester/applicator, to ensure that it remains flame retardant, and re-treat or replace drapery as needed. You can also use fire retardant solutions to treat many other materials, including lumber.


More About Steven Hall
Steven Hall serves churches through his company ModScenes.com in Norman, Oklahoma. Mod Scenes creates easy-to-use stage designs that are affordable and flexible. Steven has worked in churches as a lighting director, production manager, and scenic designer for more than 10 years. He currently serves his home church Journeychurch.tv as a volunteer lighting tech. Steven is a graduate of Full Sail University. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma, with his wife, Sara, and son Dorian. You can reach Steven on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stevenhallav.
Get in Touch: stevenhallav@gmail.com    More by Steven Hall

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Worship Facilities Magazine, March-April 2018
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