16th June 2021
The Global Media Site for Entertainment.

Rigging Safety: Your Life Is In Your Hands

Rigging Safety
By Trevor Whipkey

There have been a few big accidents in entertainment recently, most notably a well experienced rigger took a 60ft fall at Coachella and didn’t survive. I read that he was a father of two daughters, amongst other less important things. As riggers, we get into potentially dangerous situations; however, those situations aren’t dangerous if you take the personal responsibility to keep yourself safe. 

According to OSHA, falls, trips and slips are the leading cause of workplace injury and ultimately costs billions of dollars each year.

The biggest criticism of fall protection is that it slows people down and gets in their way. There’s no show, no project, no rigging point or anything I do professionally that is worth my life. My goal every day is to go home and play with my kiddos and kiss my wife.

After accidents like Coachella, there’s always a lot of “we need to do better”. Let’s replace “we” with “I”. I need to use my fall protection.

 I need to take care of those working under me. I need to double check my rigging.

Recently, I was working at a venue with some notoriously bad fall protection problems. The lead rigger asked me if I do high-steel work and I said yes.

I quickly realized that I didn’t have the right equipment or resources around me to handle the high-steel properly so when it came time and the lead said, ‘ok, let’s go to the high-steel’, my yes quickly turned into a no. He looks at another rigger and says, ‘let’s go.’ The other rigger says ‘ok’. I look up a few minutes later and both of these guys are on a single beam slider at the end of an I beam that didn’t have a stop.

Both of those guys have families at home and people that love them; why would you take that kind of risk? Just to pull a point? Don’t be afraid to say no or walk out on people or companies who are pushing you into a bad situation. You have to stand up for yourself and stop bad things from happening. Trust me, your reputation will be fine.

You will still get calls for work. As a SPRAT 3/ IRATA 3, I tell my guys all the time that their safety is not my responsibility. I can give them the best training and equipment in the world. Give them the best advice and coaching on how to do their jobs, but, ultimately, what they decide to do on-rope or at-height is their personal decision.

If you choose not to use your Y lanyards, that’s on you. There will be consequences either way. Worst case, a fall.

Best case, you’re fired. I’d rather fire people than bury them. Make good choices and take care of yourself.

Ask questions if you don’t understand. Don’t do something if you’re not comfortable doing it. Your safety is your responsibility.

Link to Trevor’s Website:

Rope Technologies

Rope Technologies Facebook

Trevor Whipkey
Also by Trevor:

Inside The Lives Of Entertainment Riggers: Trevor Whipkey

Working At Height: What’s In Your Rigging Kit?

Join TheatreArtLife to access unlimited articles, our global career center, discussion forums, and professional development resource guide. Your investment will help us continue to ignite connections across the globe in live entertainment and build this community for industry professionals. Learn more about our subscription plans.

Love to write or have something to say? Become a contributor with TheatreArtLife. Join our community of industry leaders working in artistic, creative, and technical roles across the globe. Visit our CONTRIBUTE page to learn more or submit an article.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email