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advice needed about sight lines, using weights to position legs to cov


colinguitar

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Hi,

 

I'd appreciate some advice. The sightlines in the theatre where I work are bad. It's easy to see the actors in the wings from the extremes of the front rows.

 

My solution which I thought was quite standard was to use stage weights to weigh down the bottom corners of the legs to angle them to obscure the wings.

I've been told that it's a health and safety issue and it can't be done that way.

If they are marked with white gaffer tape and if the entrances and exits are marked on the floor for the actors with white tape surely that would suffice? Also the actors could be made aware of the weights. Most actors would be aware of this in their work on a regular basis surely?

 

I've used weights in this way many times in many theatres and seen others doing so.

 

Can anyone clarify this issue?

 

Many Thanks,

 

Col

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It has always been my understanding that Health and Safety in this context is a process for risk assessment and management, rather than specific guidelines on anything this specific. There should be a designated Health and Safety representative in the venue, who would be able to assess whether what you are doing is unsafe, any reasonable steps that could be taken to reduce either the likelihood or severity of an accident, and make a decision based on these factors as to the best course of action to be taken. I don't think you're going to find a definitive EN regulation about whether you can stetch a leg out with a stage weight or not.

 

The best bet would be to assess the risk, what you could do to minimise it, (which you have), and then run this past the appropriate representative for their approval. I imagine this would once have been called "common sense", but now you have to document common sense thought processes as well, just in case someone sues.

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Don't you just hate these jobsworths who seem to enjoy making people's lives far more complicated than they need to be.

 

What is the risk? People may stub a toe.

What is the most likely level of injury? Death unlikely, broken toe? Possible.

Can the risk be reduced? Yep - white paint, or paint the weight weight.

Has this reduced the risk? yes.

Job done.

Tell the idiots it's been assessed, and the risk lowered to an acceptable level.

 

Seriously though, this level of RA is real grass roots stuff, and should not even be considered by non-technical or associated staff. If they are nosing into this level of possible risk, then there will be hundreds of similar risk activities or possibilities. why pick this one? Stage weights are designed to be used in exactly this way - weights to hold things down, and they do it quite well!

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Can you not hang the legs at a more appropriate angle/buy more/larger ones and put some weight in the bottom of the cloths to make them hang straight and fix the masking problem? If you're walking off a bright stage into the dark wings then it may be less easy to see a large weight, and a stubbed toe in 'normal' shoes can hurt. Trying to get rid trip hazards altogether is not an unreasonable ideal?
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This is hardly uncommon practice - A bit of batten with the weight in the middle will give you a much cleaner edge and have the useful side effect of moving the part you trip over to the middle of the drape where it can be more easily marked without being visible to the audience.
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Yes, I'm as sure as its poss to be that there isn't a H&S directive or a British Standard thingy or a European something-or-other which prohibits using stage-weights. Though it's an interesting/amusing thought that (assuming Europe said definitively that you could/should do it that way) it doesn't preclude an actor (or his agent) from saying "I'm sorry, I don't consider that to be safe - I'm not going on". And then Europe will provide armed guards to stand in each wing and make the actor perform?

 

As, I think, Paul says (and this is my understanding of how a RA flows) "What's the hazard?" "Who's at risk?" "How severe is the injury likely to be". Then column 3 (or is it 4?) is for "What I am going to do to address/minimise the hazard/risk". White Gaffa is a good one to include. I'm posting here to offer to the world - use it as you will- a sentence (or two) which I have found very useful in the task of adding substance to column 4 (especially for theatre projects). And that sentence (or two) is this:

"Adequate time will be allowed for the cast to familiarise themselves with the stage and its environs with particular emphasis placed on pointing out any potential trip hazards. Adequate time will be allowed during the ensuing rehearsals to ensure that the actor's actions.... (I have run out of steam)".

 

But, at the end of day, you can't make a superior accept something. And (sometimes) taking a step back and assessing the personality clash with a view to approaching the blockage from a different direction can help.

 

PS. Just checking that you've considered hanging each leg from a piece of (perhaps) 6' scaff and then tweaking the scaff to the angle you want?

 

A concurrent post has been automatically merged from this point on.

 

Or just nail or screw the batten to the floor.

Job done!

Not wanting to pick a fight, but..... Not if you're using my legs. It was a hell of a struggle to get them thru' last year's purchasing budget.

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I often add the phrase "using standard industry practice" to risk assessments. It means very little, but to somebody reading it who doesn't know how these things are done, they often just accept them because to own up to not knowing everything is painful to these kind of idiots. Or - consider using some industry jargon that will ensue those who know, know - and those who don't are in the land of confusion. If they bring the issue up, it will just show their lack of understanding. If these things get done in big meetings, they won't wish to demonstrate their lack of specific knowledge in comment that may be minuted. Warning - bringing things like this up in minuted meetings is quite dangerous, as I know to my cost.
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Of course there is no Health and Safety Law that makes it illegal to use a stage weight to anchor a leg. However, sensible risk assessment should consider the trip hazard presented by this and find ways to minimise the likely hood of a problem and/or the severity of the injury.

 

Where it has been necessary to do something with a leg other than let it hang free we will generally use sand bags for positioning rather than stage weights. Firstly they are less likely to cause a stubbed toe, they are also white bags rather than dark metal so more visible, and being without sharp corners less likely to cause a tear when someone inevitably bumps into the leg.

 

And of course the main thing is to brief the cast (and crew) on all trip hazards and anything else they might bump into in the wings or around the set.

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Of course there is no Health and Safety Law that makes it illegal to use a stage weight to anchor a leg. However, sensible risk assessment should consider the trip hazard presented by this and find ways to minimise the likely hood of a problem and/or the severity of the injury.

 

Where it has been necessary to do something with a leg other than let it hang free we will generally use sand bags for positioning rather than stage weights. Firstly they are less likely to cause a stubbed toe, they are also white bags rather than dark metal so more visible, and being without sharp corners less likely to cause a tear when someone inevitably bumps into the leg.

 

And of course the main thing is to brief the cast (and crew) on all trip hazards and anything else they might bump into in the wings or around the set.

 

I was standing backstage at a famous London Dance venue, which we were using for a location on a TV programme. We had marked out the camera sight lines on the dance floor with white LX tape in the approved manner.

 

I witnessed - with my own eyes - a dancer trip over the tape, fall and sprain her wrist.....

 

Risk Assess that......!

 

Chas at Halls

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How exactly do you fall over tape?

 

Another possible lower risk alternative in additional to those mentioned about would be 'Sausage bag' style weights - see page 2.08. You might be able to knock up some of your own if you had access to some heavy canvas and a sewing machine, and fill them with heavy chain and/or sand (whatever is in these bags).

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...'Sausage bag' style weights - see page 2.08.

 

Isn't browsing the Flints catalogue the best thing for a Friday afternoon - all those really really useful things that you know your life is not complete without.

 

(Oooh - I'm sounding almost as bad as my daughter in a shoe shop)

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well where to start

 

Due to the proportions of this venue it is very hard to mask for the end seat of the front row

 

I was it was once pointed out to me that 100% masking is hard to achieve and if the show is that bad that people are watching the wings there are a lot of bigger issues with the show

 

we also use a lot of legs on a small stage to achieve the masking so if you weight them it make already small entrances evens smaller also we have a varied product,

 

Good point to start with masking if it is not working properly is to make shore it hanging in the right positions, which currently the masking hear is not

 

We have a fairly strict slips, trips and falls policy which covers this area due to the fact we have been sued.( before my time) Our other space is flat floor so we have exobitions in there, The stand had been cabled up cables had been tacked to the floor the table laid out over the top as per stand holders plans. One of the stand holder decided to change the layout of the stand moved the tables around and proceeded to trip over the cable.

So fairly strict guidance's have been laid down,

 

Also we do have some fairly anal safety officers who do random inspections and 6 monthly audits

 

So what do we learn form this it is always worth talking to you manager as are good reasons for lot's of thing we say

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