Safe Stages Best Practices

Safe Stages Best Practices
Foreword and Acknowledgements
Part One: Health and Safety in the Theatre
Chapter One: Health and Safety in the Theatre
Chapter Two: Health and Safety Management Systems
Chapter Three: Employers and Workers: Roles and Responsibilities
Chapter Four: Hazard Assessment and Control
Chapter Five: Communication and Training
Chapter Six: Injuries and Incidents
Chapter Seven: Emergency Response Planning
Part Two: Best Practices
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Physical Hazards
Chapter Three: Chemical Hazards
Chapter Four: Biological Hazards
Chapter Five: Psychosocial Hazards
Work Safe Alberta is a joint industry and Government of Alberta strategy that supports and
promotes healthy and safe workplaces. Work Safe Alberta’s objectives include increasing
awareness, reducing injuries and illnesses, and strengthening partnerships among employers,
workers, organizations and government.
Work Safe Alberta – supporting healthy and safe workplaces.
Contact us at
Workplace Contact Centre 1-866-415-8690
Theatre Alberta is the Provincial Arts Service Organization (PASO) for theatre. Theatre Alberta
is a member service organization dedicated to the growth and development of the Alberta
theatre community. We offer a wide range of programs and services to drama students,
professional theatre artists, educators, and enthusiasts, as well as to schools, post-secondary
institutions, and community and professional theatres. Theatre Alberta receives operating
support from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Edmonton Arts Council.
Theatre Alberta – for all stages.
Contact us at
780-422-8162 or toll free in Alberta 1-888-422-8160
Print copies of this resource may be ordered through Theatre Alberta. Safe Stages is also
available online at and
This information was accurate, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of printing. This
material may be used, reproduced, stored or transmitted for non-commercial purposes only.
This resource does not replace the OHS Act, Regulation and Code and does not
exempt readers from their responsibilities under the legislation.
Theatre Alberta and Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry thank the
following organizations for graciously allowing their published materials and resources
to be referenced and incorporated into Safe Stages:
A Guide for Safe Working Practices in the New Zealand Theatre Industry
Steve Blackburn, Nick Kyle, Phil Conroy and Rob Peters
Safety Guidelines for the Live Performance Industry in Ontario
Ontario Ministry of Labour
Theatre Alberta thanks the following organizations that made generous donations
to Theatre Alberta in support of Safe Stages:
This resource marks the culmination of a two-year initiative spearheaded
by Theatre Alberta at the request of the Alberta theatre community. Alberta
Employment, Immigration and Industry—Work Safe Alberta—worked in
partnership with Theatre Alberta to create and publish this resource.
Safe Stages is a guide to Alberta’s occupational health and safety legislation for employers
and workers in the theatre industry. The information contained within applies to all theatre
companies, managers, technicians, artists and volunteers in the industry—from the largest
of professional and amateur theatre companies and venues, to the smallest of independent
productions and found spaces where theatre is produced.
Not all requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation and Code
are discussed in this resource. Safe Stages is not a definitive guide to the legislation and
does not exempt readers from their responsibilities under applicable legislation. In case of
inconsistency between this resource and the occupational health and safety legislation or any
other legislation, the legislation will always prevail.
note: All drawings in this publication represent an artist’s rendering of information only.
Drawings are for general illustrative purposes and may not represent the exact
worksite setting or be interpreted as actual depiction of the OHS Act, Regulation and Code
requirements. Not all possible options are represented by the illustrations.
Safe Stages is meant to be read in its entirety
entirety—while certain sections may be more
applicable than others, each chapter and best practice section contains information that
everyone in the industry needs to be aware of.
Members of the Alberta theatre community are encouraged to actively involve themselves
in the sharing and creation of health and safety best practices. Revisions, updates and
supplemental information to Safe Stages will be available on the Theatre Alberta website
as they arise.
Safe Stages evolved from a need to raise health and safety awareness in Alberta’s theatre
community, to locate occupational health and safety legislation relevant to the theatre
industry, and to educate and encourage Alberta theatre companies and workers in the
successful implementation of health and safety programs and best practices.
Embarking on and committing to Safe Stages took considerable dedication and fortitude.
Theatre Alberta’s Board of Directors recognized the importance of the initiative and
responded to the needs of the theatre community, committing financial resources and staff
time to the project. Members of the provincial theatre community responded in turn in
support of the work, proving that Safe Stages is a community-wide and sustainable initiative,
and that the health and safety of the theatre community is a top priority.
In March 2005, Theatre Alberta held an initial steering committee meeting with theatre
personnel from across the province, representing professional and community theatres,
professional associations and educational institutions. At this meeting it was decided that a
best practices resource for theatre industry would be both beneficial and essential. Several
meetings, drafts, updates, and amendments later, Safe Stages has culminated in this resource
binder. Through it, the Alberta theatre community joins a growing list of industries—including the
construction, oil and gas, and retail industries—that are taking proactive steps to ensure the
health and safety of their workers.
Special thanks to Janet Sellery, Health and Safety Manager of the Stratford Festival of
Canada, who worked closely with Theatre Alberta to write Part One: Health and Safety in the
Theatre, and Scott Peters, Edmonton-based designer and production manager, who worked
with members of the theatre community to compile and write Part Two: Best Practices.
Many organizations and individuals participated in the development and support of this
resource. Our thanks to:
Alberta Employment, Immigration
and Industry
Rhonda Coates, Red Deer College
Performing Arts
Sean Anderson, Morpheus Theatre
Kathy Cooper
John Avery, The Banff Centre
Al Cushing, EPCOR CENTRE for the
Performing Arts
Robyn Ayles, Mount Royal College
Department of Theatre, Speech and
Music Performance
Geoff Bacchus, Grant MacEwan College
Theatre Production Program
Joyce Belanger, University of Alberta
Department of Drama
Michelle Dias
Mike Ford, Fringe Theatre Adventures
Jason Foster, Alberta Federation of Labour
Laura Lee Billing
Geoff George, Grant MacEwan College
Theatre Production Program
Blazer Insurance
Dianne Goodman, Alberta Theatre Projects
Pieter Bruelemans, Theatre Junction
Diane Hankewich, IATSE Local 210
Canada Firearms Centre
Chris Hayes
Canadian Actors’ Equity Association
Jeff Henderson
Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology/
Institut canadien des technologies
scénographiques (CITT/ICTS)
Bill Heron, Citadel Theatre
Claire Carolyn, University of Calgary
Department of Drama
Dave Horner, Citadel Theatre
Jesse Carroll, University of Calgary
Department of Drama
Bob David
David Hignell, University of Lethbridge
Department of Theatre and Dramatic Arts
Connie House, IATSE Local 212
Jerry Jackson
Roy Jackson, Walterdale Playhouse and
Production Lighting
Darrell Pidner
Brian Pincott, Alberta Theatre Projects
Wes Jenkins, EPCOR CENTRE for the
Performing Arts
John Raymond
Ian Kelly, Lunchbox Theatre
Donna Ringrose, Roland Michener Secondary
School, Slave Lake
MJ Kreisel, Walterdale Playhouse
Phil Kreisel, Walterdale Playhouse
Tim Koll, EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts
Matthew LaBrie, Mount Royal College
Department of Theatre,
Speech and Music Performance
Nancy Sager, Red Deer College
Performing Arts
Lynda Sando, Red Deer College
Performing Arts
Monty Schneider, Theatre Calgary
Ellen Leavitt, IATSE Local 212
Joanne Seglie, University of Alberta Office of
Environmental Health and Safety
Ian LeMaistre, Red Deer College Performing Arts
Darrell Shaw, Alberta Theatre Projects
Daniel MacKenzie, Mount Royal College
Department of Theatre,
Speech and Music Performance
Ivan Siemens
John Madill, Grant MacEwan College Theatre
Production Program
Howard Van Shaik, Christie Lights
Harold Truckle, Central Alberta Theatre
Sherry Martens, Calgary Board of Education
Don Waddle, Horizon Stage/The City of
Spruce Grove
Narda McCarroll
Leo Wieser, Bleeding Art Industries
Chris McPherson
Tim Williamson, Northern Alberta
Jubilee Auditorium
Dave Miller, The Banff Centre
Adam Mitchell
Alan Welch, University of Alberta
Department of Drama
Rob Montgomery, Allstar Show Industries
Inc./Lighting by Monty
Sui-Fan Wong, Red Deer College
Performing Arts
John Nairn
Heather Wood, IATSE Local 210
Natural Resources Canada, Explosives
Regulatory Division
Donnie Osler, Theatre Junction
Stephanie Woods, Mount Royal College
Department of Theatre,
Speech and Music Performance
Emily Parker Koll, Dye Pro Services Inc.
Workers’ Compensation Board—Alberta
Damian Petti, IATSE Local 212
Tim Yakimec, Edmonton Opera
Our sincerest apologies for any oversights or ommissions.
Theatre Alberta staff members involved in the administration and creation of Safe Stages
include: Marie Gynane-Willis (Executive Director), Keri Ekberg (Program Coordinator), Janice
Hoover (Office Administrator), and Rebecca Halliday (Program Assistant).
Chapter One: Health and Safety in the Theatre
Occupational Health and Safety Legislation
Health and Safety Challenges in the Theatre
Health and Safety Advantages in the Theatre
Chapter Two: Health and Safety Management Systems
Health and Safety Policy
Health and Safety Management Systems
Chapter Three: Employers and Workers: Roles and Responsibilities
Prime Contractors
Employer and Worker Responsibilities
Imminent Danger
Due Diligence
Penalties and Fines
Workers’ Compensation
Chapter Four: Hazard Assessment and Control
Identifying and Assessing Hazards
Eliminating and Controlling Hazards
Engineering Controls
Administrative Controls
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Chapter Five: Communication and Training
Communication Systems
Worker Training
Chapter Six: Injuries And Incidents
First Aid
Reporting and Investigating Serious Injuries and Incidents
Chapter Seven: Emergency Response Planning
Emergency Evacuation Planning
Fire Extinguishers
Chapter One
In This Chapter
• Occupational Health and Safety Legislation
• Health and Safety Challenges in the Theatre
• Health and Safety Advantages in the Theatre
Glossary Items
• Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry—AEII
• Best Practice
• Occupational Health and Safety Act—OHS Act
• Occupational Health and Safety Code—OHS Code
• Occupational Health and Safety Regulation—OHS Regulation
• Workplace Health and Safety—WHS
Anyone who has worked in theatre—as a professional artist, an amateur artist, a board
member, a technician, etc.—knows that theatre is an anomalous industry. Theatre is a
business of constructing realities—simple, elaborate, metaphorical, realistic or fantastical—
entirely from scratch. Each production demands an entirely new and specific setting,
performance style and overall artistic mood. These demands are met with highly creative
design, performance and technical solutions, often as individually beautiful and well crafted
as the production itself.
The theatre community is aware that their work and workplaces are subject to occupational
health and safety legislation, but may not necessarily be aware of what the requirements
are or how to comply with them. Safe Stages is designed to assist Alberta theatre companies,
artists and workers with the following:
• understanding and complying with Alberta’s occupational health and safety legislation
• developing, implementing, maintaining and evaluating a successful health and safety
management system
• preventing illness and injury at work
• staying safe and healthy for both work and play
“It feels like I have a lot of work
to do to build and implement
safety practices in my new position.
Once I really started thinking about
it, I found it depressing how little
interest some of the companies I
used to work for took in my personal
safety. I found it depressing how little
interest I used to take in my own
personal safety.”
Occupational Health and Safety Legislation
Whether your theatre company is professional, educational or community/amateur—and
whatever your performance venue—you are legally responsible to make sure that your
working environment is safe and healthy. Alberta requirements for occupational health and
safety are found in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act), Occupational
Health and Safety Regulation (OHS Regulation) and Occupational Health and Safety
Code (OHS Code), which together comprise all OHS legislation. These documents are available
for viewing or downloading on the Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry
(AEII) Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) website at and can
be purchased from the Queens’ Printer at Every employer is required to
have a copy of the OHS Act, Regulation and Code accessible to workers: you must either be
able to locate the documents electronically at any time, or own a copy of the printed legislation.
While much of Alberta’s occupational health and safety legislation applies to theatre,
the OHS Act, Regulation and Code do not contain requirements that are theatre-specific.
Alberta’s health and safety legislation is, for the most part, hazard-based, not industrybased. It is designed to cover a broad range of professions, fields and business types, and
its requirements appear to apply more readily to prominent industries with more obvious
safety hazards: for example, construction, landscaping and rigging (oil—not scenery).
Safe Stages is a guide to occupational health and safety information for Alberta
theatre companies, artists and workers—it explains the main principles and terms
found in the OHS legislation, indicates relevant sections of legislation for various
departments and jobs in the industry and offers recommendations—“best practices”—
to help employers and workers comply with legislation and create a healthy and safe
working environment. Theatre personnel are responsible for knowing the legislation and
taking all necessary steps to comply with OHS requirements. Legislated requirements are
minimum requirements—best practices may, and often do, exceed these requirements.
The following list summarizes all topics covered by the OHS Code. Topics that are most
applicable to the theatre industry are marked in bold.
Part of OHS Code
Definitions and General Application
Part 1
Hazard Assessment, Elimination and Control
Part 2
Specifications and Certifications
Part 3
Chemical Hazards, Biological Hazards and Harmful Substances
Part 4
Confined Spaces
Part 5
Cranes, Hoists and Lifting Devices
Part 6
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Part 7
Entrances, Walkways, Stairways and Ladders
Part 8
Fall Protection
Part 9
Fire and Explosion Hazards
Part 10
First Aid
Part 11
General Safety Precautions
Part 12
Joint Worksite Health and Safety Committee
Part 13
Lifting and Handling Loads
Part 14
Managing the Control of Hazardous Energy
Part 15
Noise Exposure
Part 16
Overhead Power Lines
Part 17
Personal Protective Equipment
Part 18
Powered Mobile Equipment
Part 19
Radiation Exposure
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22
Scaffolds and Temporary Work Platforms
Part 23
Toilets and Washing Facilities
Part 24
Tools, Equipment and Machinery
Part 25
Ventilation Systems
Part 26
Part 27
Working Alone
Part 28
Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
Part 29
Part 30
Diving Operations
Excavating and Tunneling
Part 31
Part 32
Part 33
Part 34
Health Care and Industries with Biological Hazards
Part 35
Part 36
Part of OHS Code
Oil and Gas Wells
Part 37
Residential Roofing
Part 38
Tree Care Operations
Part 39
Utility Workers—Electrical
Part 40
Work Requiring Rope Access
Part 41
Health and Safety Challenges in the Theatre
Safe Stages does not guarantee that implementing a health and safety management system
or complying with occupational health and safety legislation will be easy or straightforward.
Everyone in the theatre community is busy and resources are stretched. Health and safety
may not always seem like a priority, especially when tech week is behind schedule and
opening night is looming, but we must work together towards this end. The most compelling
reason to participate in and enforce occupational health and safety is the need to protect
our art form—we must maintain quality of life for people who work and volunteer in the
arts. No company wants a technician or performer to be injured before or during a run and
tools, equipment and scenery are costly to replace. Theatre companies also need to be
concerned with potential lawsuits, charges, fines and/or jail time and worker’s compensation
claims arising from unsafe work conditions.
Some challenges faced by theatre companies include:
It is not unusual to meet with resistance to health and safety within a theatre company. In
an industry comprised of short-term projects and events, employers and workers do not
often think towards or plan for a long-term initiative. The words “health and safety” can
quickly conjure images of uniformed inspectors, stacks of insurance papers and sweeping
capital renovations. Some theatre practitioners believe that prioritizing health and safety
will destroy art or that the business of creating art renders the theatre industry exempt
from OHS legislation: “We’re special. We’re different. It’s not a construction site. It’s
temporary.” Seasoned veterans might view occupational health and safety requirements as
an imposition—why learn a safer method of performing a task if you have been doing it a
different way for your entire career and no one has been hurt? Finally, we live by the classic
saying “the show must go on”—which sometimes means “in spite of the risks involved.”
Creative Risks vs. Safety Risks
“Risk taking” is a common catchphrase in the theatre industry. It is what we do. We need to
understand when a creative risk crosses the line and becomes a safety risk. No matter how
affecting, transformative or technically spectacular a production, an audience member’s
focus will be pulled from the performance if he or she can identify obvious safety hazards
onstage or thinks even for a second that a performer might literally be in danger.
Changing Variables
The rehearsal and production process is comprised of several situations in which many
variables—design, lighting and sound cues, props, blocking, scene changes, etc.—are
introduced and/or change at once. There is heightened potential for injury at these times.
Time Pressure, Fatigue and Stress
Time is always a factor. Theatre involves frequent, hard deadlines that are often difficult
to meet. Fatigue and stress are common leading up to opening night, as everyone makes
sacrifices to ensure the show is ready and no one wants to “complain.” It is particularly
difficult to maintain health and safety awareness and ensure safe work procedures when the
pressure is on, and therefore even more important for everyone to look out for each other.
Everyone has the right and the responsibility to voice health and safety concerns resulting
from last-minute work, late nights or flared egos.
Variety of Training and Experience
People come to work in the arts with a wide range of skills, training and experience: a
degree or diploma in technical theatre or performance, hands-on training in professional or
community theatres, high school productions, etc. It is rare that a group of workers will have
similar backgrounds or training, or have received uniform instruction in how to perform a
specific task. Furthermore, the theatre community is a mobile and seasonal work force. This
means that theatre companies must offer training frequently, enforce safe work practices on
a regular basis and ensure all workers are setting a good example.
Funding and Money
Most theatre companies face ongoing financial challenges that affect staffing, facility
maintenance and repair, purchasing decisions, production design, etc. It is equally as
important to budget for and allocate appropriate resources to health and safety activities
and equipment. An effective health and safety management system is fiscally responsible
because the costs associated are typically much less than that of paying financial penalties,
replacing damaged equipment, lost work time, or, most importantly, having a worker
injured. The bottom line in occupational health and safety for the theatre industry is this:
if you can’t afford to perform a task safely, you can’t afford to do it at all.
Health and Safety Advantages in the Theatre
Even though theatre is fraught with unique and often unusual challenges impacting health
and safety, developing and implementing a health and safety management system is by no
means an insurmountable task. We are a creative and diligent industry with intense respect
for our work, and we believe that protecting our peers and colleagues is important. Planning
for a health and safety management system is not unlike planning for a production—they
are built from the ground up and molded over time, in spite of any obstacles.
Some advantages for theatre companies include:
Creativity and Ingenuity
Theatre requires creativity in all its activities, and health and safety is no different. The
creative process can present many health and safety challenges—often specific to an
individual production and in some cases completely bizarre—and it is not always possible to
open a supplier’s catalogue and find an instant solution. There are ample opportunities for
creative, customized solutions.
The theatre industry is a tight-knit community whose members have frequent opportunities
to communicate. The same transitory nature of the work of performers, directors, designers,
craftspeople and technicians that can impede health and safety education also allows workers
to view and receive health and safety training from several different organizations and
companies. We can work together to improve health and safety in theatres across the province.
Theatre practitioners are notorious perfectionists—detail-oriented and insistent on
producing quality work. We know that adequate rehearsal time, both in the rehearsal hall
and onstage, affords greater comfort and reliability during performance. We know that our
livelihood depends on staying in good health and physical shape and that a severe injury
or illness can lead to months or years without work, and medical coverage may not be
available. Doing a job safely means doing it right (and vice versa).
Knowledge and Enthusiasm
While there may be a few unwilling members of the theatre community, the majority of the
artist and production workforce has a strong desire to improve health and safety systems
and to learn the safest and most efficient practices. The Alberta theatre industry boasts
an ever-expanding base of young, enthusiastic workers. Basic occupational health and
safety information is part of the Alberta high school curriculum and post-secondary theatre
programs include theatre-specific health and safety training for their students.
Existing Practices
Although most theatre companies do not currently have a formal health and safety
management system in place, the theatre industry already uses many practices and
procedures that demonstrate an acute awareness of occupational health and safety. Some
of theatre’s most fundamental practices—so deep-rooted that anyone who has worked
on a production would know them—are done in the name of maintaining a safe work and
performance environment, even if theatre practitioners do not consciously acknowledge
that particular aim. Practices such as rehearsing in itself, pre-show checks of lamps and
moving scenery, fight warm-ups, the provision of rehearsal costumes and props, calling
“going to black” before the lights go out and glow-taping hazardous edges are all health and
safety activities. A health and safety management system is simply a means of formalizing
and perpetuating these common practices.
Chapter Two
In This Chapter
• Health and Safety Policy
• Health and Safety Management Systems
Appendix Items
• Health and Safety Policy 1—
courtesy of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT)
• Health and Safety Policy 2—
courtesy of Safety & Health in Arts, Production and Entertainment (SHAPE)
• Health and Safety Policy 3—
courtesy of AEII’s Partnerships in Health & Safety Program
A safe and healthy workplace doesn’t just happen—it takes commitment, planning
and everyone’s active participation. Health and safety management systems are the
processes used by a company to minimize the incidence of injury and illness at the
workplace. They have been proven to increase productivity and quality of work, as well
as generally improve worker morale. Many employers therefore view the operation and
administration of a health and safety management system as a wise investment.
Health and Safety Policy
A health and safety policy is a written and signed document that reflects an employer’s
commitment to providing and ensuring a healthy and safe workplace. It is a statement of
intent and a commitment to plan for the successful implementation of a comprehensive
health and safety management system.
A health and safety policy must be:
• written
• signed by the head of the organization
• reviewed every three years (or modified as needs or legal requirements change)
• posted in a conspicuous spot in the workplace
• communicated to all workers/volunteers
Policies should address:
• the company’s commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace
• the overall goals and objectives of the company’s health and safety management system
• the responsibilities of management, workers and contractors regarding health and safety
• the prevention of personal injury or illness
• the prevention of loss or damage to property, materials, product and the environment
• compliance with relevant legislation and company-specific health and safety policies and
procedures in all work activities
Theatre Alberta recommends that theatre companies adopt the following credo in their health
and safety policies: there is no task so urgent that it cannot be completed safely.
Health and Safety Management Systems
A health and safety management system is the overall set of documents, regulations,
hazard assessments, inspections, control measures, training schedules and administrative
procedures that allow a company to execute and realize its health and safety policy. Health
and safety management systems should be viewed as works in progress with evolving issues.
The components of a health and safety management system vary depending on the nature
and scope of individual industries and companies. The following components are considered
to be essential for an effective health and safety management system:
• a health and safety policy that clearly demonstrates the employer’s commitment to
health and safety in the workplace
• assessment of hazards at the workplace\
• control measures to eliminate or reduce risks from hazards
• worker competency and training
• ongoing worksite inspection
• injury/incident investigation
• emergency response planning
• system administration
• annual system evaluation
Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Health and Safety Management System
1. Make a list of all health and safety practices and information that already exist within
your theatre company. Ask around—many departments and workers will have practices in
place that could qualify as components of a health and safety management system and/or
will have researched topics of particular interest to them. Gather all of this information
together, and you may find there is already more in place than you realized.
2. Identify what legislation applies to the work you do.
3. Exercise due diligence. (See Chapter 3) This means “take every precaution reasonable in
the circumstances for the protection of the worker.” In order to take precautions, you
need to know what hazards exist.
4. List the hazards that workers are exposed to within your company. (See Chapter 4)
Hazard assessment and control is the foundation of occupational health and safety and a
requirement under the OHS Code. Hazards include: physical (manual handling, working at
heights, electricity, noise, etc.); chemical (paints, glues, fog fluids, etc.); biological (mould,
body fluids, etc.); and psychosocial (stress, fatigue, violence, etc.).
5. Review the kinds of injuries that workers have experienced at your workplace. Patterns
will indicate issues you need to address.
6. Take every possible opportunity to show your workers that you are committed to good
health and safety practices by becoming actively involved.
Be sure to address the essential components listed above, as well as additional, companyspecific elements such as communication tools, shop and rehearsal hall safety orientations,
first aid, workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS), etc.
You can pull most of this information together on your own, but if you are starting from
scratch, you may wish to arrange for a consultant or Certifying Partner to assist you. contains a list of health and safety consultants and Certifying Partners.
The following 3 R’s sum up a general approach to health and safety management: Respect,
Respond and Require.
Respect the incredible diversity of workers/artists and the unique nature of each project.
The work in studios, shops and rehearsal halls is different every day, and it takes place in an
atmosphere of continuous creativity and change.
Respond to questions and requests as quickly as possible. Artists or workers who
ask questions or challenge health and safety information are engaged and should be
encouraged. If there isn’t an immediate answer, refer them to someone else or let them
know when more information will be available.
Require people to comply with legislation, wear personal protective equipment and report
all hazards, injuries and incidents to their supervisors. All theatre personnel must agree
that workplace injuries and illnesses are unacceptable and work together to prevent any
such occurrences.
___________________________________ and its Board of Directors are committed to the
health and safety of its employees, its contracted personnel, its patrons, its volunteers
and others using its premises. In order to protect all its resources, both human and
material, the management of ___________________________________ will make every
effort to provide and maintain a safe, healthy work environment, continuously striving
to eliminate any identified hazard that might result in personal injury or illness and/or
property damage.
This commitment will be fulfilled through the policies and procedures of our Health and
Safety Program, in compliance with all federal and provincial legislation. The Health and
Safety Program will be reviewed annually to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.
Health and safety, however, must be a personal as well as corporate commitment. Hazards
in the workplace can only be controlled by active employee involvement at all levels; thus
________________________________ requires that all its workers and supervisors share
its dedication to health, safety and incident prevention. Supervisors, who will be held
accountable for the health and safety of workers under their supervision, are responsible
for ensuring that machinery and equipment is safe, and that workers receive adequate
training in their specific tasks and follow safe work procedures established by _______
__________________________. Each worker, in turn, must protect his or her own health and
safety by working in compliance with the law and with those same established procedures.
At ___________________________________, the health and safety of the public and of our
personnel is of prime concern. There is no task so urgent that it cannot be completed
safely. We trust that each of you will join us in a personal commitment to health and safety.
Artistic Director
General Manager
Board Chair
Board Vice-Chair
JHSC Management Co-Chair (If applicable)
JHSC Worker Co-Chair (If applicable)
Health and Safety Policy
(Theatre Company)
Health and Safety Policy
(Theatre Company)
___________________________________ and its Board of Directors intend to be a healthy
and safe working and performing environment.
To achieve this, management has established and will maintain an occupational health and
safety plan designed to prevent injuries and disease through prior planning and regular
worker orientation and training meetings, safe work practices, hazard assessments
and inspections.
All employers involved in this production are responsible for providing their workers with
adequate instruction in health and safety and for addressing unsafe situations in a timely,
effective manner.
All workers, volunteers and service contractors are required to work safely and to abide by
any posted health and safety rules of this production and their own company guidelines
for safe work procedures.
Artistic Director
General Manager
Board Chair
Board Vice-Chair
JHSC Management Co-Chair (If applicable)
JHSC Worker Co-Chair (If applicable)
___________________________________ is committed to a health and safety management
system that protects our staff, our property, other workers who enter our property and the
general public.
Employees at every level are responsible and accountable for ____________________
_______________ health and safety performance. Active participation by everyone, every
day, in every job is necessary for the safety excellence ___________________________ expects.
Management will set an example and provide leadership in the health and safety system.
Management will set a health and safety policy and work procedures, and provide proper
equipment and training. Employees are responsible for following all procedures, working
with an awareness of health and safety and co-operating in working towards improved
health and safety conditions at work.
Employees at every level should be familiar with the requirements of the Alberta
Occupational Health and Safety legislation as it relates to their work processes.
Our goal is a health injury free workplace for all employees. By working together in all parts
of this program, we can achieve this goal.
Let’s put health and safety to work for all of us!
Artistic Director
General Manager
Board Chair
Board Vice-Chair
JHSC Management Co-Chair (If applicable)
JHSC Worker Co-Chair (If applicable)
Health and Safety Policy
(Theatre Company)
Chapter Three
In This Chapter
• Employers
• Prime Contractors
• Workers
• Students
• Employer and Worker Responsibilities
• Imminent Danger
• Due Diligence
• Penalties and Fines
• Insurance
• Workers’ Compensation
Glossary Items
• Competent Worker
• Due Diligence
• Employer
• Imminent Danger
• Prime Contractor
• Reasonable Person Test
• Reasonably Practicable
• Worker
Appendix Items
• Imminent Danger Procedure
• Due Diligence Checklist—
courtesy of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
The OHS Act sets laws to protect and promote the health and safety of workers
throughout Alberta. It outlines the responsibilities of employers, as well as
the responsibilities of workers. This chapter details these responsibilities and
discusses “due diligence” in the workplace.
Understanding the definitions and applications of employer and worker in the theatre
industry can be a difficult task. We work simultaneously for professional, independent or
community theatres, either on salary, on contract or as a volunteer. We produce in venues
rented from other theatre companies and in found space managed by other industries, as
well as present other companies’ work in our own venues.
Health and safety success is dependent on understanding and fulfilling your roles and
responsibilities, and it is therefore important to clearly identify who the employer(s) and
worker(s) is in each and every work situation. While individual companies will differ in how
they delegate health and safety responsibilities and tasks, these responsibilities and tasks
must be delegated and exercised. All roles and responsibilities must be determined before
work starts: both at the start of the production season and for each individual production.
Under the OHS Act, employers are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of
all workers at the worksite. Specific requirements are outlined throughout the OHS Act,
Regulation and Code depending on the work that is to be done.
You are an employer if:
• you employ one or more workers
• you are designated by your employer to represent the employer
• you are self-employed
Reference: OHS Act, Section 1(k)
“Employers” in the theatre can be board members, producers, artistic directors, general
managers, production managers, technical directors, etc. depending on the company and
the work being performed. It is recommended that theatre companies clearly identify who is
performing the responsibilities of the employer in each and every work situation.
Prime Contractors
If there are two or more employers involved in work at a worksite at the same time, there
must be a prime contractor.
The prime contractor for a worksite is:
• the contractor, employer or other person who enters into an agreement with
the owner of the worksite to be the prime contractor, or
• if no agreement has been made or is in force, the owner of the worksite
Reference: OHS Act, Section 3
Situations where “prime contractor” status may be applicable in the theatre include the
presentation of touring productions, the producing of theatre in rented or found venues
and any work where several self-employed workers are working together, such as co-ops
and freelance call work. The delegation and/or transfer of Prime Contractor status is the
responsibility of the owner of the worksite; agreements should be in writing.
• a worker is any person engaged in an occupation, including volunteers
• workers must take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of
themselves and other workers
Reference: OHS Act, Section 2 (2)
OHS legislation does not apply to students receiving training in an educational setting,
regardless of the activities being performed, e.g. woodworking class at a grade school,
automotive repair course at a technical school, chemistry laboratory course at a university,
etc. Responsibility for the health and safety of students rests with the school under existing
legislation that applies to educational institutions.
Secondary and post-secondary theatre instructors, drama teachers and programs/
departments should, however, endeavour to meet all legislated responsibilities of
employers, including the operation and administration of a health and safety management
system. Students should be informed of and protected from hazards, as well as trained in
hazard control methods and other health and safety practices as part of their course work.
Employer and Worker Responsibilities
Every province and territory in Canada has similar occupational health and safety
legislation that describes the obligations of employers and workers. In Alberta, this is
outlined in Section 2 of the OHS Act:
Employers must ensure, as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so:
• the health and safety of all workers at their worksite
• that workers are aware of their responsibilities and duties under occupational
health and safety legislation
Workers must:
• take reasonable care to protect their own health and safety
• take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of their fellow workers
• cooperate with their employer to these ends
Suppliers must ensure, as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so:
• that all materials (tools, appliances, equipment, hazardous substances, etc.)
they supply are in safe operating condition
• that all materials (tools, appliances, equipment, hazardous substances, etc.)
they supply comply with OHS legislation
Contractors must ensure, as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so:
• that employers working under them at a worksite comply with OHS legislation
Reference: OHS Act, Section 2
Additional key employer responsibilities include:
• informing workers of any dangers at the worksite
• ensuring workers have the training and experience needed to do their jobs safely
• ensuring workers perform their duties as required by OHS legislation
• keeping equipment in safe working order
If work is to be done that may endanger a worker, the employer must ensure
that the work is done:
• by a worker who is competent to do the work or
• by a worker who is working under the direct supervision of a worker who is
competent to do the work
Competent refers to a worker who is adequately qualified, suitably trained and has
sufficient experience to carry out the work safely. A competent worker requires no
supervision or only minimal supervision.
Reference: OHS Regulation, Section 13
Imminent Danger
A stage crew member who has
not been trained in fall protection is
asked by his employer to work at
a height of 7 metres (20 feet). Fall
protection is required for work above
3 metres. The crew member must
refuse to carry out the work as he is
not considered competent and inform
the employer of the refusal and the
reason for the refusal. The employer
must investigate and take action to
eliminate the danger. To eliminate
the danger, the employer could
have another crew member who is
competent perform the work and use
the appropriate fall protection.
Workers in Alberta have the duty to refuse work in the case of imminent danger. Imminent
danger means any danger that isn’t normal for a job, or any dangerous conditions under
which a worker wouldn’t normally carry out their work. If workers think their work may put
them or another worker in imminent danger, they must refuse to do it.
Reference: OHS Act, Section 35
Due Diligence
Due diligence is the level of judgment, care, prudence, determination and activity
that a person would reasonably be expected to exercise under a situation’s particular
circumstances. It is both an important legal and cultural component of an organization’s
health and safety management system.
Applied to occupational health and safety, due diligence means that employers must take
all reasonably practicable precautions to prevent injuries or incidents at the worksite. This
duty also applies to situations that are not specifically addressed in OHS legislation. For
example, if a theatre decided to include a bungee trapeze routine in a production, they
would be expected to take all reasonably practicable precautions to prevent injuries and
incidents, even though there is no specific reference in the OHS Code to that type of work.
Reasonably practicable may seem like a subjective method of determining a defendant’s
guilt or innocence, however it is a legally defined term that is measured using the
reasonable person test. The reasonable person test is an assessment of what a dozen
peers would consider reasonable under a similar set of circumstances. The result is a
balanced, wise and defendable judgment.
All elements of due diligence—plans and actions taken to ensure the safety of workers—
must be documented and in effect in the event of an injury or incident. Due diligence is
demonstrated by your actions before an incident or injury occurs, not after.
Penalties and Fines
Failure to comply with OHS legislation can result in significant penalties. The penalty for
a first offence in Alberta can be up to six months of jail-time or $500,000, or both; for
second or subsequent offenses the penalties double. While these costs are significant,
the emotional costs of losing a fellow worker and economic costs of lost work time or
destroying a piece of important/expensive equipment are far greater.
The Criminal Code of Canada allows law enforcement agencies to charge organizations
and individuals who fail to protect workers and the public with criminal negligence. The
duty requires that reasonable steps be taken to prevent physical harm to any person, be
they workers or members of the public who may enter or be affected by a workplace. This
Criminal Code duty applies to any individual or representative of any organization (including
informal, non-incorporated groups) who direct the work of another.
As with any industry, insurance is a challenging issue. Most theatre companies will require
various types of insurance policies, depending on the work done by the company, the
number of workers/volunteers employed and whether or not the company owns, manages
or rents their theatre space.
It is always advisable to research and discuss insurance options with a qualified insurance
broker. Following that, ensure that someone on the Board of Directors or on staff at your
theatre company intimately understands the clauses and intricacies of your company’s
insurance policies.
The following policies are common for theatre companies:
Commercial General Liability Insurance—covers those employed by or working on
behalf of the theatre company and its members (includes the Board of Directors)
Property Insurance—covers the physical plant and its contents (if you own or manage a
venue, your insurance broker should visit annually for an inspection of the facility; you must
also annually report added assets, such as renovations and technical equipment)
Tenant’s Legal Liability Insurance—covers your company while working in a rental
facility for damages caused to the rental facility while under the control of the theatre
company; most rental facilities require this of each renter
Workers’ Compensation
A professional tradesperson works
full-time for a roofing company and
volunteers evenings and weekends
to build sets for a community
theatre. While installing a set
one evening, the tradesperson
trips on a tool left on the stage
and breaks his ankle, leaving
him in a cast for four weeks
and unable to do any paid or
volunteer work. If the community
theatre company has a WCB
policy for its volunteers, they can
apply for workers’ compensation
on the tradesperson’s behalf.
Compensation will be assessed
based on his lost hours at the
roofing company as well as any
lost volunteer hours. If, however,
the company does not have a WCB
policy, the WCB will view the injury
as sustained through a “hobby,”
and the tradesperson will not be
able to seek compensation through
either the community theatre or
the roofing company. In this case
the worker could sue the theatre
Workers’ Compensation is a disability insurance system that protects employers and workers
from the impact of work-related injury or occupational disease. It compensates workers
for lost income, health care and other costs related to their injury or illness. It also protects
employers from being sued by their workers if they are injured as a result of their work.
The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Alberta (( is a non-profit
corporation legislated to administer the workers’ compensation system for the province.
Employers pay premiums to fund this no-fault system that provides compensation to
workers for work-related injuries and occupational disease.
All Alberta theatre companies with paid workers are required to have a WCB account. Companies
can also apply to the WCB in writing for additional coverage for their volunteers. If a volunteer
is injured or becomes ill while working for the theatre company, the WCB will assess the
volunteer’s total lost earnings from all volunteer and paid positions.
Volunteer-run amateur theatre companies can also apply for a WCB policy. Under this policy,
a volunteer injured or rendered ill while performing unpaid work for the theatre company
could receive workers’ compensation for his or her total lost earnings from all full- or parttime “day jobs” and volunteer hours.
If a theatre company (professional or amateur) applies for WCB coverage for its volunteers,
the company must pay WCB premiums for all volunteers at the theatre.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, employers must complete and submit a reporting form
within 72 hours of a report or notification of a work-related injury or occupational illness
(see Chapter 6 for more information).
The OHS Act, Section 35, outlines the worker’s duty to refuse work in the case of imminent
danger. Imminent danger means any danger that isn’t normal for a job, or any dangerous
conditions under which a worker wouldn’t normally carry out their work. If workers think
their work may put them or another worker in imminent danger, they must refuse to do it.
• If you are in a situation where there is imminent danger, you are required to stop work.
• Explain to your employer/supervisor why you stopped work.
• Your employer must then investigate the situation and take action to correct the danger.
• If your employer is not at the worksite, they must appoint someone who is responsible
on site.
• Your employer can assign you to other work until the problem has been investigated
and is fixed.
• Or, your employer can ask someone else to do the work if that person is trained to
safely handle the danger.
• Your employer must give you a written report of what the investigation found and
what action was taken.
• If your employer does not agree that there is a danger, or you can’t agree on a way
to fix the danger, you should contact Workplace Health and Safety (1-866-415-8690).
• An occupational health and safety officer will investigate the situation and make a
decision about what action to take.
• Both you and your employer must comply with the officer’s decision.
• If you or your employer disagrees with the officer’s decision, you can request that
the Occupational Health and Safety Council review the matter.
• Your employer may not discipline or fire you because you refuse to do work that
presents or poses an imminent danger.
Imminent Danger Procedure
(Theatre Company)
Due Diligence Checklist
(Theatre Company)
Do you know and understand your
safety and health responsibilities?
Do you have definite procedures in
place to identify and control hazards?
Have you integrated safety into all
aspects of your work?
Do you set objectives for safety
and health?
Have you committed appropriate
resources to safety and health?
Have you explained safety and health
responsibilities to all employees and
made sure that they understand them?
Have employees been trained
to work safely and use proper
protective equipment?
Is there a hazard reporting procedure
in place that encourages employees to
report all unsafe conditions and unsafe
practices to their supervisors?
Are managers, supervisors and
workers held accountable for safety
and health?
Is safety a factor when acquiring new
equipment or changing a process?
Do you keep records of your program
activities and improvements?
Do you keep records of the training
each employee receives?
Do your records show that you take
disciplinary action when an employee
violates safety procedures?
Do you review your health and safety
management system at least once a
year and make improvements as needed?
Chapter Four
In This Chapter
• Identifying and Assessing Hazards
• Eliminating and Controlling Hazards
• Engineering Controls
• Administrative Controls
• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Glossary Items
• Hazard
• Hazard Assessment
• Hazard Control
• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
• Safe Work Practice
• Safe Work Procedure
• Standards
Appendix Items
• Hazard Assessment Form—
courtesy of AEII’s Health and Safety Toolkit for Small Business
• Hazard Assessment Checklist—
courtesy of SHAPE’s Health and Safety Guide For Live Performance (Theatre)
Hazard assessment and control is the foundation of occupational health and safety and
a requirement under Part 2 of Alberta’s OHS Code. All employers must perform and formally
document regular hazard assessments at their worksites.
Identifying and Assessing Hazards
A hazard is any condition or circumstance that has the potential to cause injury or illness.
Within the theatre industry, hazards should be identified and assessed on three levels:
• for the facility/venue/worksite
• for each department (Wardrobe, Props, Scenic Construction, Scenic Art, Stage,
Front of House, etc.)
• for each production and the activities involved
Benefits of performing hazard assessments include reducing the number and severity of
workplace injuries or damages to equipment and property; identifying poor or missing
procedures; identifying areas that need worker training; increasing workers’ ownership of
occupational health and safety; and providing a useful tool when investigating incidents.
Hazards are typically grouped into four categories:
Physical Hazards
• Lifting and handling loads (e.g. manually moving set pieces)
• Repetitive motions
• Slipping and tripping hazards (e.g. poorly maintained floors)
• Moving parts of machinery
• Working at heights (e.g. hanging lights)
• Vehicles (e.g. forklifts, trucks)
• Fire
• Electricity (e.g. poor wiring, frayed cords)
• Excessive noise (e.g. power tools, music, sound effects)
• Inadequate lighting
• Extreme temperatures
Chemical Hazards
• Liquids (e.g. paints, solvents, cleaner, bleach)
• Dusts (e.g. from grinding, sandblasting)
• Fumes (e.g. welding)
• Mists and vapours (e.g. dry ice)
• Gases (e.g. engine exhaust)
Biological Hazards
• Viruses, fungi, bacteria
• Moulds
• Blood and body fluids
Psychosocial Hazards
• Working conditions
• Stress
• Fatigue
• Workplace violence
• Working alone
Employers must:
• assess a worksite identifying existing or potential hazards
• prepare a written and dated hazard assessment that includes the methods
used to eliminate or control the hazards identified (a properly completed checklist
is acceptable as a written hazard assessment)
• where possible, involve workers in the hazard assessment
• make sure workers are informed of the hazards and the methods used to
control the hazards
An employer must make sure that a hazard assessment is done:
• at reasonably practicable intervals to prevent the development of unsafe and
unhealthy working conditions
• when a new work process is introduced
• when a work process or operation changes
• before the construction of significant additions or alterations to a worksite
Reference: OHS Code, Part 2
In its simplest form, a hazard assessment answers the question “What if ...?”
• there isn’t a guardrail on the staircase the sword fight takes place on?
• the actors are allowed to do costume quick-changes in the prop shop?
• the scenic painters do last-minute touch-ups in the theatre rather than in the
ventilated paint shop?
All equipment, tools, work areas and processes are to be carefully assessed for hazards.
Management, production managers, technical directors, designers, craftspeople, stage
management, directors, actors and crew should work together to identify hazards.
There are a number of ways to identify hazards:
• walk around the worksite and look at how work is done; ask workers what they
consider unsafe
• think about what could possibly go wrong, being sure not to overlook things that people
may have “worked around” for years
• review any information you have on a particular piece of equipment (manufacturer’s
specifications) or chemicals (Material Safety Data Sheet [MSDS]) to see what it says
about safety precautions
• review incidents that have occurred at the worksite
• talk to others in the industry to find out what hazards they have identified and/or what
sort of incidents they have had
Formal processes for conducting hazard assessments include:
• physical inspections using a checklist
• task or job hazard analysis—breaking down jobs into tasks and identifying the hazards
involved with each task
• process analysis—following a process from start to finish and identifying the hazards
involved at each stage
• incident investigation findings—results of incident investigations may identify the
hazards involved
Each identified hazard must be documented. Hazards that workers will have to contend
with in the very near future, that have the potential to affect a large number of workers or
that pose a severe risk of injury or illness must be considered high-risk hazards and dealt
with immediately.
Eliminating and Controlling Hazards
Whenever possible, hazards should be eliminated. If this is not possible they must be
controlled. Control means reducing the hazard to levels that present a minimal risk to
worker health. Controls, in order of preference, include:
• engineering controls
• administrative controls
• personal protective equipment (PPE)
Finances and budgeting are always an issue in occupational health and safety—but
eliminating and controlling hazards does not always have to mean shelling out funds for
capital expenses. For example, if a work platform poses a fall hazard, a supervisor could
erect a temporary guardrail to prevent workers from falling; meanwhile, the Board of
Directors could plan for a permanent guardrail in next year’s budget.
Engineering Controls
Engineering controls physically control hazards and are the first and preferred choice of
hazard control methods, after elimination. Examples include:
• Substituting the hazardous material or task with something safer, such as using smaller
packages to reduce the weight of items that have to be manually handled, using a less
toxic chemical, etc.
• Isolating noise using soundproof barriers, using an enclosed spray booth for spray
painting, using remote control systems to operate machinery, etc.
• Building a catwalk with guardrails and a permanent access ladder instead of using a
portable ladder, installing local exhaust ventilation, etc.
Administrative Controls
Administrative controls are the second choice of hazard control methods and include: the
development and use of safe work practices; safe work procedures; worker training,
scheduling and supervision; company purchasing decisions; preventative maintenance
programs; signage; etc.
Any identified hazardous task or situation that workers may undertake or find themselves in
should have an accompanying safe work procedure/practice. These are formal and written
documents developed by employers in direct consultation with the workers who do the
work. When inclusively developed and enforced, safe work procedures increase awareness
and confidence in the workplace.
Safe work procedures/practices are recommended when specific direction is required to
safely complete a task. Such tasks may include:
• using hand and power tools
• working at heights—including the use of ladders and personnel lifts, orchestra pits, etc.
• installing and striking venues and sets
• hanging, cabling, patching and focusing lights
• rigging and flying operations
• working alone
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a form of hazard control used to lessen the
potential harmful effects of exposure to a known hazard. Although an important part
of health and safety management, PPE is considered the last resort of hazard control,
used only after engineering controls and administrative controls have been shown to be
impractical, ineffective or insufficient.
Employers must:
• identify what type of and when PPE is required based on hazard assessments
• ensure workers are trained in the correct use of all required PPE
• ensure workers wear/use PPE
• ensure PPE is maintained and is in a condition to perform the function for
which it was designed
• ensure PPE meets standards listed in the OHS Code
Workers must:
• maintain and use appropriate PPE as required
Reference: OHS Code, Part 18
Types of PPE required for work in theatre may include, but are not limited to:
• body protection (coveralls, chemical protective clothing, aprons, sunscreen)
• eye protection (safety/impact glasses, splash goggles)
• face/eye protection (welding face shields)
• fall protection (fall arrest harnesses)
• foot protection (safety footwear)
• hand protection (various gloves)
• head protection (hard hats)
• hearing protection (ear plugs, ear muffs)
• respiratory protection (air-purifying respirators)
PPE should be inspected before each use and maintained and stored according to
manufacturer’s specifications. PPE should not be modified to reduce discomfort.
personal protective equipment
Employers have several options for providing PPE. They may:
• provide PPE at the workplace
• provide an allowance for workers and volunteers to purchase PPE
• require workers to obtain and bring their own PPE as a condition of employment or
volunteering (and then ensure that the PPE is acceptable)
note: for tasks posing respiratory hazards, employers must provide and ensure the
availability of appropriate respiratory protective equipment for workers
Hazard Assessment Form
(Theatre Company)
Date of Assessment
Completed By
Step 1: Hazard Identification
Check off all hazards or potential hazards at your worksite and add any additional
identified hazards specific to your worksite.
Physical Hazards
Chemical Hazards
(identify chemical/
Lifting and handling loads
Repetitive motion
Slipping and tripping
Moving parts of machinery
Working at heights
Other: specify
Biological Hazards
Psychosocial Hazards
Working conditions
Fungi (mould)
Workplace violence
Blood and body fluids
Other: specify
Other: specify
Other: specify
List all of the hazards identified on the checklist above and identify the controls that are in
place for each: engineering controls, administrative controls, personal protective equipment
or combinations of these.
Controls in Place
lifting and
handing loads
spray paint
used to paint
mechanical lift
safe work
procedures and
required worker
worker training
program needs
to be repeated
in one month
safe work
procedures for
proper footwear
send reminder
May 16, 2006/
to human
Bill Jones
resources to ask
new workers to
purchase and
bring footwear
safe work
procedures for
proper footwear
ask head of
scenic art to
revise purchase
slipping and
purchase latex
paint; dispose
spray cans
May 12, 2006/
Jane Doe
May 30, 2006/
Cathy Smith
Hazard Assessment Form
Step 2: Hazard Control
List all of the hazards identified on the checklist above and identify the controls that are in
place for each: engineering controls, administrative controls, personal protective equipment
or combinations of these.
Controls in Place
Hazard Assessment Form
Step 2: Hazard Control
Hazard Assessment Checklist
(Theatre Company)
Use this checklist to help identify hazards. Many of the items will not apply to your
production. Simply check off those that do. When you have identified a hazard, you must
correct it and document the actions you took.
Venue Conditions
The venue owner is responsible for maintaining the building in a condition such that
workers will not be endangered. If you are renting a reputable performance space, be
sure to request that the rental agreement includes a statement from the owner or manager
that all building systems are in safe working order. In other situations, you may have to do
much more to ensure that your installation can be done safely.
Check with manager/owner if there are any known hazards associated with the venue.
Review previous hazard assessments at the venue.
Review engineering reports and floor plans that outline pick points, weight loads and
structural issues.
Check that any permanent rigging system is well maintained.
Check that all ropes, chains and other lines on which scenery is flown are safely secured.
Check for any fall hazards.
If there is an orchestra pit, check that it has safety nets or railings in place.
Ensure all trap doors and pits are adequately marked.
Check that stage floors have appropriate resiliency, traction and are free of splinters,
nails and other hazards.
Determine if there is a first aid room.
Determine if there are adequate dressing rooms for performers.
Ensure there are men’s and women’s washrooms for performers, other workers
and audience.
Determine if there is adequate security at the site especially for those working alone
at night.
Check for any potential live electrical hazards (exposed wiring, open electrical boxes, etc.).
Check that AC power is grounded and output is adequate for demand required.
Check that temporary electrical wiring is clearly marked and secured on floors to
prevent tripping.
Ensure stage lights are properly secured and backed up with safety chains.
Ensure there is adequate lighting backstage.
Make sure treads and backstage stairs are in good condition.
Check that stairwells are properly lit.
Check that alleyways are clear of litter and obstacles.
Special Effects
Determine what fogs, smoke or other special effects will be employed in performance.
Make sure the appropriate Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) are available
for reference.
Make sure appropriate hearing protection for noise (from firearms, explosions,
tools, etc.) is provided.
Make sure the appropriate fireproof curtains, props, sets and costumes are used to
comply with fire plan.
If black light is used, ensure that it is low in harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Ensure there are adequate precautions and warnings posted for the use of strobe lights.
If pyrotechnics will be used, confirm that the necessary permits and permissions for
workers and the venue have been obtained.
Hazard Assessment Checklist
Hazard Assessment Checklist
Scenery Construction
Have thorough conference with the director, designer, technical director, choreographer
and other specialists to determine specifications for scenery pieces.
Make sure all scenic units are adequately tested before actors are trained on them.
Ensure that, if the stage is raked, it is no steeper than a safe 1:12 ratio.
Make sure proper precautions are taken for storage and use of any flown scenery.
Allow any paints, dyes and solvents used in construction to dry or evaporate
completely before props, sets and costumes are used.
Design hand props with consideration for their specific onstage use.
Check props for rough edges and other hazards before giving them to performers.
Ensure performers and other workers are properly instructed in use of personal
protective equipment.
Rigging and Fall Protection
Know the fall protection or prevention issues related to your show and determine what
fall protection equipment will be needed for performers and other workers.
Make sure a competent rigger is supervising all rigging and all flying effects.
Provide written procedures for flying effects to performers and other workers.
Make sure qualified personnel co-ordinate and train performers and other workers in
use of any lifts (scissor, boom, snorkel lifts, etc.)
Ensure ladders are safe and in good condition.
Place guardrails and hand railings on raised platforms and staircases where possible.
Chapter Five
In This Chapter
• Communication Systems
• Worker Training
Glossary Items
• Equipment
• Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)
• WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)
Appendix Items
• Suggested Agenda Items for Performer, Shop Worker and Stage Crew Orientations—
courtesy of SHAPE’s Health and Safety Guide For Live Performance (Theatre)
• Quick Reference Orientation Form for Workers/Health and Safety Notice Board—
courtesy of the Stratford Festival of Canada
• Script for Acting Company Health and Safety Orientation—
courtesy of the Stratford Festival of Canada
• Policy for Reporting and Resolving Health and Safety Concerns—
courtesy of the Stratford Festival of Canada
• Emergency Contact Information & Medical Concerns Form—
courtesy of the Stratford Festival of Canada
Communication with workers and worker training are important steps and ongoing
processes in ensuring occupational health and safety awareness and performance. Clear
and open communication and frequent training opportunities encourage everyone to
support and participate in health and safety activities.
It is important to involve workers in decisions that may affect their well being and ensure
they are prepared and equipped to manage occupational health and safety concerns. Generally,
the workers actually doing the job are the most knowledgeable about the hazards they face
and can articulate and develop the safest and most efficient work methods, and they are
more likely to follow health and safety procedures when they have been involved in their
development. If regular workers are using safe procedures, taking precautions, identifying
potential hazards and attending training sessions, they will serve as role models to less
experienced workers and automatically help to perpetuate health and safety awareness.
Communication Systems
Effective health and safety management systems rely on good communication—from
both management and workers. Schedule regular health and safety meetings or check-ins,
encourage workers to bring safety concerns to their supervisors, report on actions taken to
address hazards, inform workers of planned changes that may affect health and safety, walk
though the workplace together to identify to identify existing and potential hazards, etc.
It is important to be aware of, and to take into consideration, differing skills in language,
literacy and culture when communicating health and safety information.
Health and Safety Orientations
At the beginning of each theatre season and/or production, companies should hold a health
and safety orientation and require all personnel to attend. Distribute health and safety
information and cover the following topics:
• health and safety policy
• procedures for reporting and resolving health and safety concerns
• procedures for reporting injuries and incidents
• location of first aid kits and names of trained first aiders
• emergency procedures
• location of the MSDS library
• location of personal protective equipment and other safety equipment/features
• safe work procedures/practices specific to work activities
Workers who attend/participate in health and safety orientations should sign a document
acknowledging their participation.
Safety Meetings
Safety meetings are scheduled meetings—often held during pre-production—in which
real and potential safety issues are discussed. They can stand alone, or take place during
production, staff and/or board meetings. Many design, technical or performance hazards
can be forestalled as a result of careful planning.
Safety Chats
Safety chats are brief, informal meetings with the cast and crew that may be held at the start
of a call, on the first day of rehearsal, on the first day onstage, the cue-to-cue day, etc. They
are also held prior to rehearsing potentially hazardous sequences for the first time. Typical
discussion topics include design hazards (raked stages, elevated surfaces, etc.), performance
hazards (firearms, stage combat, special effects, etc.), reminders of emergency procedures, etc.
Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC)
Joint Health and Safety Committees are made up of equal parts management and worker
representation. Members work together to identify and solve health and safety concerns,
and generally promote health and safety awareness and interest within an organization.
In Alberta, the establishment of a committee is voluntary; however, theatres that have
a JHSC typically find them to be an essential and effective part of their heath and safety
management system.
health and safety notice board
Health and Safety Notice Boards
Health and safety notice boards can be developed and displayed at your workplace in
various locations to communicate information to large groups of people. Information to
post may include:
• health and safety policy
• OHS legislation
• location of first aid kits, names of trained first aiders, copies of first aid certificates
• location of the MSDS library
• emergency procedures
• location of personal protective equipment and other safety equipment/features
• local and time specific health and safety newsletters, bulletins, etc.
• Workplace Health and Safety Inspection Orders, if applicable
• Joint Health and Safety Committee information (committee members and contact
information, schedule of meetings, agendas and minutes, inspection reports, etc.)
note: health and safety notice boards should be reserved exclusively for health and safety
information—no restaurant menus or social/personal notices
Callboards and Rehearsal Schedules
Callboards and rehearsal schedules are a great way to communicate important health and
safety information to the cast and crew. Use the schedule to alert cast and crew members
to potential hazards for that day’s rehearsal, such as the use of smoke, fog, pyrotechnics,
firearms, etc.
Worker Training
Worker training is an essential component of a health and safety management system.
Workers need to know how to do their jobs safely and without risk to their health, and they
must understand that the company considers health and safety to be an important part of
the work process. Competent, well-trained workers not only perform their jobs safely, they
are also more productive, aware and efficient.
It is not acceptable to assume workers have training, but it is possible to require them
to participate in specific training at your workplace or have proof of prior training as a
condition of employment. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure worker competency.
To this end, it is important to maintain training records showing what training workers have
received and when, and when they are due for renewals/refreshers.
Specific health and safety training for each department, worksite and procedure, based on
identified hazards, should be arranged by employers at the beginning of each theatre season
or prior to a worker’s first day of work, with refreshers held as required. This may include:
• new worker orientation
• equipment training
• WHMIS training
• fall protection training
• respiratory protection training and fit-testing
• vehicle/forklift training
• first aid training
• emergency response/evacuation procedures
• fire extinguisher training
Employers must ensure that a worker is trained in the safe operation of any equipment
they will use. This training must include:
• selection of the appropriate equipment
• limitations of the equipment
• operator’s pre-use inspection
• use of the equipment
• operator skills required by the manufacturer’s specifications for the equipment
• mechanical and maintenance requirements of the equipment
• loading and unloading the equipment if doing so is a job requirement
• the hazards specific to the operation of the equipment at the worksite
If a worker may be exposed to a harmful substance at a worksite, the
employer must:
• establish procedures that minimize the worker’s exposure to the harmful substance
• ensure that a worker who may be exposed to the harmful substance is trained
in the procedures, applies the training and is informed of the health hazards
associated with exposure to the harmful substance
Workers must:
• participate in the training provided by an employer
• apply the training
Reference: OHS Regulation, Section 15
Be sure to have each worker who receives such an orientation/training sign a document acknowledging receipt.
For Performers—
Rehearsal Hall
emergency equipment
emergency procedures
first aid attendant,
location, how to call
Anticipated health
and safety issues
in this production
filling out individual
emergency contact and
medical information forms
food allergies and
other allergies
scenic units
stage floor surface
fight scenes
wardrobe special needs
rehearsal footwear
special effects
For Shop
and Production
emergency equipment
emergency procedures
first aid attendant, location,
how to call
personal protective
equipment: shoes, hard
hats, gloves, ear protection,
respirators, etc.
filling out individual
emergency contact and
medical information forms
construction materials
and methods
dust collection
controlled substances,
solvents and fumes
tools used
materials storage
and disposal
For Stage
emergency equipment
filling out individual
emergency contact and
medical information forms
emergency procedures
orchestra pit
first aid attendant, location,
how to call
maintaining clear exit paths
identify other contractors
and workers
identify supervisors
personal protective
equipment: shoes, hard
hats, gloves, ear protection,
respirators, etc.
tools used
access to heights and fall
protection if required
rigging issues
special effects
Suggested Agenda Items for Performer, Shop Worker and Stage Crew Orientations
(Theatre Company)
Quick Reference Orientation Form
(Theatre Company)
Name of Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) Members (if applicable)
Location of First Aid Kit
Names of Trained First Aiders
Locations of Nearest/Alternative Fire Exits
Locations of Nearest Fire Extinguishers
Meeting Place in Case of Emergency Evacuation
Location of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) Library
Location of Eyewash Station
Location of Personal Protective Equipment
Pass out Training Records to be signed.
Here at ______________________________ (the theatre), we have something very special
to protect and as you begin __________________________ (the season/the production), I
want to remind you about the importance of health and safety. We want to encourage
a co-operative approach so that artistic choices may be realized safely and efficiently
without restricting the creative process. In addition to this Health and Safety Orientation,
the Technical Director conducts a hazard assessment for each production and your Stage
Manager will be talking to you about safety when you move onstage.
Health and Safety Information
You have received health and safety information _____________________________ (e.g. in
your welcome package). If you’d like further information, there is a Health and Safety Notice
Board located ________________________________ (location).
Health and Safety Legislation
Under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation and Code:
• You must take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of yourselves
and other workers.
• _________________________________ (the theatre) must tell you about any hazards at
the workplace.
• You also have a duty to refuse work in the case of imminent danger.
- Imminent danger means any danger that isn’t normal for a job, or any dangerous
conditions under which a worker wouldn’t normally carry out their work.
- If you think your work may put you or another worker in imminent danger, you
must refuse to do it.
Joint Health and Safety Committee (if applicable)
__________________________________ (the theatre) has a JHSC, an advisory body that
brings together workers and management. Our JHSC meets _____ times per year.
• Information is posted on the Health and Safety Notice Boards.
• __________________________________ (names) are worker members and ___________
_______________________ (names) are management members.
Script for Acting Company Health and Safety Orientation
(Theatre Company)
Script for Acting Company Health and Safety Orientation
Hazard Assessment
Theatre presents unique occupational challenges:
• It is your job to take creative risks but you need to understand when something you
want to try becomes a safety risk—make sure it has been worked out before you try it.
• Many variables change at once, especially in cue-to-cue and technical rehearsals
when many of the technical elements are being added or changed.
• Time pressure and finite deadlines.
Health and safety awareness must be constant and everyone must be involved in
hazard assessment.
Together with our knowledge and skills, we must support and appreciate the less tangible
abilities like imagination and intuition.
Beyond the OHS Act, Regulation and Code come good judgment, practical knowledge and
common sense. We must not assume that hazards are other people’s responsibility. We must
all speak up and take action when we know or believe there are hazards in our workplace.
We must also encourage others to speak up, and support them when they do.
Reporting and Resolving Health and Safety Concerns
• If you have a concern, report it to your Stage Manager who will look into it and, if
necessary, take corrective action.
• If you are not satisfied with the response, you may contact a JHSC member (if
applicable) and the three of you can work together to resolve the concern.
• If a resolution cannot be reached, the Imminent Danger Procedure will be followed.
• It is important for you to tell your Stage Manager of any past injuries or medical
concerns that might affect your blocking.
• When you go to fittings, make sure that the designer and staff know what you need
to be able to do in your costumes.
• You have lots of people who will be looking out for your well being as you put
_____________________________ (the production) together—everyone from
directors, designers, fight directors, stage managers, technical directors and crew.
• However, no matter how hard everyone may try to anticipate dangerous situations,
no one else can know what it feels like to you.
If you feel unsafe at any time, in any way, STOP—tell your stage manager right away:
• even if you think it will be inconvenient to sort out the problem.
• even if the rehearsal is running late and everyone is pressed for time.
• even if you are not sure there is a problem but you would feel better knowing more
about the situation.
Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
You are encouraged to fill in an Emergency Contact and Medical Information form provided
by ___________________________ (the stage manager)/Canadian Actors’ EquityAssociation.
• In addition, you may speak privately to each Stage Manager if you have an allergy
or health concern you would like them to know about. They will not see your
Emergency Information Form.
First Aid Kits are located ____________________________________________ (location).
The theatre does not provide any medications so you should keep a supply of whatever
you are likely to need.
Many people are trained in First Aid/CPR including several members of stage management,
stagehands and wardrobe attendants.
If you are injured, tell your Stage Manager—depending on the severity, a First Aid Report,
an Injury/Incident Report and/or a WCB report will be filled out.
If you are a member of Equity you are covered for workplace injury under their insurance
plan. There is a separate insurance policy covering other workers. ______________________
_________________________ (name) can assist you with the form for making a claim.
Reminder (if applicable) – this is the time of year when colds and flu may be going around.
• You can get a flu shot from your family doctor if you want one.
• If you don’t have a family doctor, you can get a flu shot from ______________________
_____________________ (location).
• The Centre for Disease Control says that hand washing “when done correctly is the
single, most effective way to prevent the spread of disease.” Soap and water are
the best method, but where there isn’t a sink available, hand sanitizer is a good
alternative. Sanitizer will be provided in several locations in the theatre.
• Additional measures – Cough on your cuff, sneeze on your sleeve.
• If you are sick, call the stage management office to talk to them about staying home.
Emergency Procedures
In all theatres, staff and patrons will evacuate upon hearing the fire alarm bells.
You should leave the building immediately by the nearest safe exit when you hear the alarm
and go to your assigned meeting place: _________________________ (location).
If there is a performance in progress, stage management will make announcements and
stop the show.
Nuisance fire alarms disrupt performances and require evacuation of the building, which
can be inconvenient and potentially costly. For this reason, please do not burn candles or
incense in dressing rooms.
Emergency Procedures—Power Failure
In case of a power failure, stop where you are and do not move until lights are restored.
Take direction from Stage Management.
The theatre must be evacuated after __________________________ (duration) without power.
Script for Acting Company Health and Safety Orientation
• These will be kept locked in the Stage Management Office to give easier access
after business hours.
Script for Acting Company Health and Safety Orientation
Provide details regarding generators, communications systems, and emergency lighting
If you want to visit the Scene Shop or the carpentry or welding areas of the Prop Shop,
requirements for appropriate footwear, eye and hearing protection must be followed.
Regarding visits and tours of the backstage area while work is in progress:
• During presets, rehearsals and performances, visitors are not permitted in
the backstage area except by permission of the Stage Manager.
• During changeovers and resets, visitors are not permitted backstage. It is
very important to keep clear of the changeovers, as there is a lot of scenery,
as well as dollies of props and wardrobe racks, moving at that time.
• During technical work, visitors are only permitted backstage by arrangement
with the Head Carpenter.
Do not use the backstage as a shortcut.
Backstage Footwear
With the exception of costume footwear or bare feet required by actors in a specific
rehearsal or performance, everyone in the backstage areas must wear leather or leather
substitute shoes with closed toes at all times while work is in progress—no canvas shoes
or sandals.
If you wear sandals to the theatre, keep another pair of shoes in your dressing room.
Scented Products
Some people are sensitive to scented products including perfumes and hairsprays so
please be considerate and limit your use of these products at work.
If you are affected by a product someone else is using, please let them know so they may
limit its use.
Health and Safety Commitment
“At the theatre, the safety of the public and of our personnel is of prime concern. There is
no task so urgent that it cannot be completed safely.”
Take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and have a great production/season.
Supervisors will encourage workers to discuss health and safety concerns with them. When
a worker identifies a health or safety concern, it should be reported to the supervisor. The
supervisor will respond immediately by having a discussion with the worker, attempting to
resolve the concerns and, if necessary, taking corrective action. If the supervisor and the
worker are unable to resolve the concern, the supervisor should refer the concern to the
next level of supervision.
If no agreement is reached at this level, then the concern may either be referred to higher
levels of management or a member of the Joint Health and Safety Committee (if applicable)
may be contacted.
This is a guideline only. Workers may elect to exercise their right to refuse work if they feel
unsafe, according to the Imminent Danger Procedure.
For the following concerns, these people should be contacted and given an opportunity
to respond.
Maintenance and Housekeeping Concerns
If the supervisor cannot resolve maintenance and housekeeping concerns, the following
people should be contacted, in this order.
Name(s) and Contact Information
Temperature and Ventilation Concerns
Many temperature and ventilation concerns are comfort issues and individuals respond
differently. Staff should dress in layers and keep sweaters at work so they may adapt to
variations in temperature. For extreme situations, the supervisor should contact the following
people, in this order:
Name(s) and Contact Information
Policy for Reporting and Resolving Health and Safety Concerns
(Theatre Company)
Policy for Reporting and Resolving Health and Safety Concerns
Fire Extinguishers
If you have a fire extinguisher that is due for inspection or has an obvious defect, contact:
Name(s) and Contact Information
First Aid Supplies
If you need first aid supplies between first aid kit inspections, contact:
Name(s) and Contact Information
If you need to arrange training for workers (e.g. first aid, fire extinguishers, etc.), contact:
Name(s) and Contact Information
This information will be kept in a sealed envelope, labeled with your name, in the stage
management office. In case of emergency, the envelope will be given to medical professionals.
Personal Contact Information
Postal Code
Postal Code
Home Telephone
Emergency Contact Information
1. Name
2. Name
Doctor Contact Information
1. Name
2. Name
Medical Information (food /drug allergies, medical conditions, etc.)
If you have an allergy or medical condition that you would like your manager or supervisor to know about, please speak to them
privately, as they will not see this form.
PLEASE NOTE: Completing this form is voluntary. Your information will only be provided to a doctor, paramedic or hospital for the
purpose of emergency treatment when you are unable to provide information due to injury or illness. By signing below, you consent
to the disclosure of this information. The theatre protects the personal information it gathers. For details, refer to our Privacy Policy.
Emergency Contact Information & Medical Concerns Form
(Theatre Company)
Chapter Six
In This Chapter
• First Aid
• Reporting and Investigating Serious Injuries and Incidents
Glossary Items
• Acute Illness or Injury
• First Aid
• First Aider
• Incident
• Near Miss
✭ Appendix Items
• Legislated First Aid Requirements—Schedule 2 of OHS Code
• Injury and Illness Policy and Procedures—courtesy of Theatre Ontario’s To Act In Safety
• Patron Injury and Illness Report—courtesy of Theatre Ontario’s To Act In Safety
• Ambulance Refusal Form—courtesy of Theatre Ontario’s To Act In Safety
• First Aid Record—courtesy of AEII’s Health and Safety Toolkit for Small Business
• Incident Investigation Guide—courtesy of AEII
• Incident Investigation Report—courtesy of AEII
• Workers’ Compensation Board Worker’s Report of Injury or Occupational Disease
• Workers’ Compensation Board Employer’s Report of Injury or Occupational Disease
Safe Stages is designed to assist you in preventing injuries, illnesses and incidents at the
workplace—an essential part of this is planning and preparing for their occurrence as part
of your health and safety management system. This chapter outlines first aid requirements
for Alberta workplaces and procedures for reporting and investigating injuries and incidents,
including near misses.
First Aid
General workplace first aid requirements are outlined in Part 11 of the OHS Code. Worksite
specific requirements, including the required number of first aiders, level of first aid training
and type and quantity of first aid kits, supplies and equipment, are listed in Schedule 2 of the
OHS Code and are based on:
• how hazardous the work is
• the time taken to travel from the worksite to a health care facility (hospital)
• the number of workers on each shift
Employers and workers who are likely to encounter an emergency situation should be trained
in first aid. Training for supervisors in each department—as well as all Stage Management and
Front of House workers who are interested—is recommended.
The benefits of first aid training go far beyond legal compliance—workers and volunteers are
usually keen to take it and it is a great method for getting people involved with a health and
safety management system.
Employers are responsible for:
• providing and maintaining first aid services, supplies and equipment
• ensuring that the services, supplies and equipment are available and accessible
during all working hours at the worksite they serve
• communicating information about first aid to workers
• ensuring arrangements are in place to transport injured or ill workers from the worksite
to the nearest health care facility
• ensuring that first aiders are trained
• ensuring that injuries and acute illnesses are reported to the employer and recorded,
and that records are kept confidential
Reference: OHS Code, Part 11 and Schedule 2
First aid kits must be available at all worksites and must comply with the regulations listed in
the OHS Code. It is helpful to put a laminated inventory on the lid of each kit, along with an
inspection record that is signed and dated every three months when the kits are inspected.
First aid kits should be restored as supplies are used. A list of trained first aiders must also be
posted in a visible area.
The administering/dispensing of any drugs, including aspirin and other headache medication,
is not considered first aid. Medications and ointments must not be included in first aid kits,
and stage managers should not stock such drugs in their stage management kit. Theatre
companies should develop policies and procedures for assisting workers who require
prescribed medications, such as epi-pens, nitro-glycerine pills, insulin, asthma inhalers, etc.
Theatre companies should also develop policies and procedures for calling ambulances and
ambulance refusal. If an incident involves exposure to a chemical/hazardous substance and a
worker is sent for medical care, the chemical’s Material Safety Data Sheet should accompany
the worker.
First Aid Records
Workers must report any acute illness or injury at the worksite to their employer as soon as
possible. Employers must record, on a first aid record, every acute illness or injury that occurs
at the worksite as soon as possible after it is reported to them.
First aid records must contain:
• name of worker
• name and qualifications of the person giving first aid
• description of the illness or injury
• type of first aid given to the worker
• date and time of the illness or injury
• date and time the illness or injury was reported
• where at the worksite the incident occurred
• work-related cause of the incident, if any
First aid records must be maintained for three years from the date of incident. The person
assigned responsibility for custody of first aid records must ensure they are kept confidential.
Access to first aid records is limited to the worker, occupational health and safety officers,
Workplace Health and Safety’s Director of Medical Services or a person authorized by the
Director of Medical Services, except where written permission of the worker is obtained.
Reporting and Investigating Serious Injuries and Incidents
The OHS Act requires serious workplace injuries and incidents to be reported to the
Workplace Health and Safety Contact Centre: 1-866-415-8690 or 415-8690 in Edmonton.
Employers must report to Workplace Health and Safety:
• an injury or incident that results in a death
• an injury or incident that results in a worker being admitted to a hospital for more than 2 days
• an unplanned or uncontrolled explosion, fire or flood that causes serious injury or that
has the potential of causing a serious injury
• the collapse or upset of a crane, derrick or hoist
• the collapse or failure of any component of a building or structure necessary for the
structural integrity of the building or structure
Reference: OHS Act, Section 18
The employer responsible for the worksite is responsible for reporting the injury or incident.
Report one of the above incidents immediately or at the first opportunity. Be prepared to
provide information indicating the time, place and nature of the injury or incident. If you are
unsure whether an injury will develop into a reportable injury, call it in.
Do not disturb the scene of an incident unless you:
• are permitted to do so by an occupational health and safety officer or a peace officer
• have to attend to someone who has been injured or killed
• have to prevent further injuries
• have to protect property that is endangered as a result of the incident
Conducting an Incident Investigation
Following a telephone call to the Workplace Health and Safety Contact Centre, the employer
responsible for the worksite must prepare an Incident Investigation Report. An Incident
Investigation Report explains what happened and what will be done to prevent a similar or
identical incident from happening again. Witnesses and people involved in the incident may
need to be interviewed, including those not present when the incident occurred. For example,
it may be appropriate to interview a trainer who instructed involved workers months earlier.
The investigation must determine:
• who was involved or injured?
• where did the incident happen?
• when did the incident occur?
• what were the immediate and basic causes of the incident?
• why was the unsafe act, condition or procedure allowed?
• how can a similar incident be prevented?
Non-reportable injuries and incidents, including near misses, also need to be documented
in an Incident Investigation Report, even if they are not reported to Workplace Health and
Safety. Near misses should be investigated because they point to hazardous conditions or
work practices that could cause an incident in the future.
Incident Investigation Reports should be kept on file for a period of two years following the
injury or incident. You are not required to send copies to Workplace Health and Safety, but
they must be readily available to occupational health and safety officers if and when they
come to the worksite.
note: There are separate requirements for reporting injuries to the Worker’s Compensation
Board. These are covered under the Worker’s Compensation Act, which is different from
occupational health and safety legislation. The WCB injury report form must be completed by
the employer and worker involved within 72 hours of the notification of the injury.
Low hazard work includes work at administrative sites and dispersal sites (where workers
report for instruction or from which workers are transported to primary worksites).
High hazard work includes:
• construction or demolition
• operation and maintenance of food packing or processing plants, beverage
processing plants, electrical generation and distribution systems, foundries,
industrial heavy equipment repair and service facilities, sawmills and lumber
processing facilities, machine shops, metal fabrication shops, gas, oil and chemical
process plants, steel and other base metal processing plants
• industrial process facilities not elsewhere specified
• woodlands operations
• gas and oil well drilling and servicing operations
• mining and quarrying operations
• seismic operations
• detonation of explosives
Medium hazard work includes anything that does not qualify as either low or high hazard.
Number ofHazards
workers at work
Close work site
(up to 20 minutes)
Distant work site
(20 – 40 minutes)
Isolated work
site (more than
40 minutes)
Low Hazard Work
Type P First Aid Kit
Type P First Aid Kit
Type P First Aid Kit
No. 1 First Aid Kit
1 Emergency First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
1 Emergency First Aider
No. 1 First Aid Kit
1 Emergency First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
1 Emergency First Aider
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
1 Emergency First Aider
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
2 Standard First Aiders
No. 2 First Aid Kit
Type P First Aid Kit
Type P First Aid Kit
Type P First Aid Kit
1 Emergency First Aider
No. 1 First Aid Kit
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
Medium Hazard Work
Legislated First Aid Requirements
Legislated First Aid Requirements
Number ofHazards
workers at work
Close work site
(up to 20 minutes)
Distant work site
(20 – 40 minutes)
Isolated work
site (more than
40 minutes)
Medium Hazard Work (continued)
1 Emergency First Aider
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
1 Emergency First Aider
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
2 Standard First Aiders
No. 2 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
2 Emergency First Aiders
1 Standard First Aider
No. 3 First Aid Kit
2 Emergency First Aiders
1 Standard First Aider
No. 3 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
3 Standard First Aiders
No. 3 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
Type P First Aid Kit
Type P First Aid Kit
Type P First Aid Kit
1 Emergency First Aider
No. 1 First Aid Kit
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
1 Emergency First Aider
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
2 Standard First Aiders
No. 2 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
2 Standard First Aiders
No. 2 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
1 Emergency First Aider
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
2 Standard First Aiders
No. 3 First Aid Kit
3 blankets, stretcher, splints
2 Standard First Aiders
No. 3 First Aid Kit
3 blankets, stretcher, splints
2 Emergency First Aiders
1 Standard First Aider
No. 2 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
3 Standard First Aiders
No. 3 First Aid Kit
3 blankets, stretcher, splints
3 Standard First Aiders
No. 3 First Aid Kit
3 blankets, stretcher, splints
2 Emergency First Aiders
2 Standard First Aiders
No. 3 First Aid Kit
3 blankets
2 Emergency First Aiders
3 Standard First Aiders
No. 3 First Aid Kit
3 blankets, stretchers, splints
4 Standard First Aiders
1 Advanced First Aider
No. 3 First Aid Kit
3 blankets, stretcher, splints
High Hazard Work
For work sites with 100 or more workers, refer to Part 11 and Schedule 2 of the OHS Code.
For information regarding the contents of Number 1, Number 2, Number 3 and Type P First
Aid kits see OHS Code, Schedule 2, Table 3—First aid equipment and supplies.
Passed by Board of Directors on ______________________________ (date).
Policy Statement
When a worker or patron experiences an injury or illness on theatre property, emergency
assistance will be provided promptly by qualified staff/volunteers, including Front of House
Managers and other designated supervisors. This assistance will range from the provision
of first aid to contacting 911 to arranging for assistance and ambulance service. The theatre
requires that all worker and patron injuries or illnesses, however minor, be reported to a
supervisor and that an Injury/Illness Report form be completed.
All workers and volunteers will be trained, during their orientation, in the appropriate steps
to be followed in the event of an emergency. They will also receive a copy of this Policy &
Procedures document.
At every performance and special event hosted by the theatre, a House Manager or other
designated supervisor with first aid training will be on site.
Front of House will maintain a first aid kit for its specific use. First aid kits may not contain
medications such as Tylenol, aspirin, allergy medications, etc. and theatre representatives
are prohibited from making such medications available to workers or patrons.
All supervisors will be trained, during their orientation, in the appropriate steps to be followed
in the event of an emergency and will have current First Aid and CPR certification.
Designated staff and/or volunteers with first aid training will normally attend to minor
complaints without seeking outside medical assistance. These treatments will include
things such as: cuts, scrapes, minor bleeding and feeling faint due to heat. In the case of
more serious injuries, designated first aiders will, if requested by the worker or patron or
if the situation warrants it, call 911 to request an ambulance, or will advise the worker or
patron to seek medical attention themselves immediately.
If a patron elects not to seek medical attention, the following precautions are to be taken:
• If the patron returns to the theatre auditorium, a designated usher will observe the
patron during the performance to ensure that the situation does not escalate.
• If the patron decides to rest in the lobby or another designated space, they should
be offered the option of having an usher sit with them until they are ready to return to
the performance in progress. If they decline the offer, they should be permitted
to rest undisturbed, but observation should be continued.
It is imperative that House Management staff/volunteers endeavor to make the patron most
comfortable and provide superior customer service in all situations.
Injury and Illness Policy and Procedures
(Theatre Company)
Injury and Illness Policy and Procedures
In the event of any incident involving injury or potential injury, designated supervisors are
required to complete an Injury/Illness Report at the time of occurrence. The report must
contain the following information:
• Name and address of the worker or patron involved.
• Location of incident, nature of injury, exact details as related by the worker or patron.
• Observations of the conditions, time of incident, weather conditions (if a factor) and
assistance given to the worker or patron.
• Name(s) of witness(es).
• Name of first aid provider and first aid treatment or advice provided.
Reporting System
The theatre requires that all injuries or illnesses, however minor, be reported to a supervisor
and an Injury/Illness Report form be completed. The original report shall be filed in a predetermined location and a copy forwarded to the designated theatre worker who oversees
health and safety for the company.
Supervisor Responsibilities
• Ensure first aid is given immediately by a trained First Aider.
• If the injured or ill person needs health care (more than first aid treatment/advice), advise
them to seek medical assistance or arrange immediate transportation to a hospital by
calling an ambulance. When any doubt exists, call an ambulance.
• If the injured or ill person refuses to have an ambulance called, against the advice of
the supervisor, ensure that the Ambulance Refusal Form is completed and signed.
• Ensure that an Injury/Illness Report is completed including first aid treatment/advice
given to the injured or ill person. The original shall be filed in a pre-determined location
and a copy forwarded to designated theatre worker who oversees health and safety
for the company.
Patron’s Contact Information
Home Telephone
Alternate Telephone
Details of Injury/Illness
Exact location
of injury/illness
Date and time
of injury/illness
Date and time
injury/illness reported
Who was the injury/illness
reported to?
What happened?
If there was an injury, indicate the part of the body involved and specify left or right side.
Please note any comments made by the injured person or witness.
Contributing factors
(for example, clothing, weather conditions, patron’s age/health, etc.)
Is there anyone else who may have witnessed or who may know about the injury?
If so, provide details below. Name(s), Address(es) and Phone Number(s) if available.
Postal Code
Patron Injury/Illness Report
(Theatre Company)
Patron Injury/Illness Report
Action Taken
First Aid
treatment or advice
First Aid provided by
Assistance by doctor
or other patron?
Patron went to hospital
on his/her own?
Ambulance requested
by patron?
Ambulance suggested
by First Aider?
Ambulance called?
Ambulance refused
by Patron?
Name, if known:
Time called:
Time arrived:
If yes, complete Ambulance Refusal Form.
Apparent condition
of Patron upon leaving
First Aid care/theatre
Patron kept under
surveillance during
Injury/Illness Investigation
What actions
contributed to the
Follow-up with Patron?
If yes, explain:
Describe actions to prevent recurrence
(actions taken and actions planned but not yet carried out)
Signature of Theatre Representative
Date of Report
understand that an ambulance with trained
medical personnel has been suggested for me as a result of my
, as a precautionary measure.
I have refused the suggested ambulance and release
from any further liability as a result of my refusal to seek medical attention.
Supervisor/Manager Signature
Witness Signature (over 18 years of age)
To be signed in the event the person refuses to sign the disclaimer.
The person listed above has refused to sign the above statement and has also refused
our suggestion regarding calling an ambulance. This refusal has been witnessed by the
following three individuals:
Supervisor/Manager Signature
Second Witness Signature (over 18 years of age)
Third Witness Signature (over 18 years of age)
Ambulance Refusal Form
(Theatre Company)
First Aid Record
(Theatre Company)
Date and time of injury or illness
01/June/2006, 10:00 am
Date and time injury or illness
reported to First Aider
01/June/2006, 10:02 am
Full name of injured or ill worker
Jane Doe
Description of the injury or illness
Worker cut left thumb while sculpting
a prop statue.
Description of where the injury
or illness occurred/began
Incident occurred in the Prop Shop.
Cause of the injury or illness
Worker was distracted by a co-worker; knife
slipped and cut worker’s thumb.
First aid provided?
Name of First Aider
Bill Jones
If yes, complete rest of page
Emergency First Aider
Emergency Medical
Standard First Aider
Emergency Medical
Advanced First Aider
Emergency Medical
Registered Nurse
Emergency Medical
First Aid Qualifications
First Aid Provided
Cut cleaned with water and gauze dressing applied.
Worker returned to work.
Margaret Smith
This form, when completed, should be given to _____________________________________.
Keep this record for at least 3 years from the date of injury or illness.
1) Employer
Provide the information requested.
2) Prime Contractor
Provide the information requested.
The prime contractor is the contractor, employer or other person who enters into an
agreement with the owner of the work site to be the prime contractor. If there is no
agreement or the agreement isn’t being followed, then the owner of the work site is the
prime contractor. A prime contractor is required whenever two or more employers are
working at the work site at the same time.
3) Injured Worker(s)
Provide the information requested. Repeat for each worker injured in the incident.
4) Investigating Police
If the incident was investigated by the police, the report should contain the name of
the officer, police force, and detachment.
5) Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee
Is the work site covered by a Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee (JWHSC)?
Has the JWHSC been involved in the investigation? If so, include a copy of its report
as an appendix.
6) First Aid
If first aid was given, indicate who provided the service and what was done.
7) Witness Statements
Statements should be obtained from witnesses where possible and should include
the following:
• full name
• address
• telephone number
• date of birth
• position
• occupation
• experience
• employer’s name and address
• duties at time of incident
The statement should be in the witness’s own words and signed by the witness.
Witness statement pages are provided in the report.
Incident Investigation Guide
How to Complete the Attached Incident Investigation Report
Incident Investigation Guide
8) Report by Others
List relevant reports such as laboratory or engineering reports that were used as
sources of information. Attach pertinent sections of the reports as an appendix.
9) Health and Safety Program
Is there a health and safety program at the work site?
Are procedures and precautionary measures identified in the program that would
have prevented the incident?
If procedures are available, are the procedures adequate?
10) Circumstances
Accurately describe, in chronological order, the relevant events leading to the
incident. Do this in such a way that the reader can form an accurate mental picture
of the situation with minimum confusion. Visual observations should be verified by
photographs taken to show the witness’s view of the incident.
11) Causes of the Incident
Identify and explain both immediate and underlying causes of the incident. List
the causes in order of the degree to which they contributed to the incident and its
outcome. Question why the events occurred as they did and why certain conditions
existed at that time.
Was the worker properly trained and supervised?
Was the worker provided with and trained in the use of necessary personal
protective equipment?
What had been done to eliminate or reduce the hazardous conditions which may
have existed at the time of the incident?
Were safe work procedures being followed (written or verbal)?
Such deficiencies must be identified for corrective actions.
12) Preventive Measures and Follow-Up Actions
Indicate the preventive measures and actions that have already been taken and
when. Describe the preventive measures and actions, in order of priority, that must
be taken now. Indicate who is responsible for seeing them completed and by when.
This includes such actions as additional safety meetings with employees, review
of safe work procedures, implementing new procedures, engineering controls, etc.
Prevention of future injuries or incidents is one of the key reasons for performing an
incident investigation.
1) Employer
Postal Code
Postal Code
Postal Code
Date & Time of Incident
Incident Site
Specific Location
2) Prime Contractor (if applicable)
Prime Contractor
3) Injured Worker
Date of Birth
Attending Doctor
Nature of Injury
(brief description of injury sustained)
Incident Investigation Report
Incident Investigation Report
3) Injured Worker - Continued
(fatal, permanent disability,
medical aid, lost time, etc.)
Experience with employer
Total relevant experience
Next of Kin (only if FATALITY)
Postal Code
4) Investigating Police
Name of Officer
Police Force
5) Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee
6) First Aid
Was first aid provided?
If yes, complete below.
Name of First Aider
First Aid Provided
Were witness
statements taken?
(If yes, list the names of witnesses below and
attach witness statement pages to this report.)
8) Reports by Others
Are reports by
others attached to this
incident report?
(If yes, list reports below.)
9) Health and Safety Program
(attach additional pages if required)
10) Circumstances
(attach additional pages if required)
Incident Investigation Report
7) Statement of Witnesses
Incident Investigation Report
11) Causes of the Incident
(attach additional pages if required)
12) Preventive Measures and Follow-Up Actions
(attach additional pages if required)
Report by
Employed by
Statement Of
Postal Code
Postal Code
Date of Birth
Relevant Experience
with this Employer
Duties at Time of Incident
Page ____ of ____
Incident Investigation Report
Witness Statement
Chapter Seven
In This Chapter
• Emergency Evacuation Planning
• Fire Extinguishers
Glossary Items
• Emergency
Appendix Items
• Emergency Response Plan—
courtesy of AEII’s Health and Safety Toolkit for Small Business
• Emergency Procedures—
courtesy of Theatre Ontario’s To Act in Safety
Planning and preparing in advance for emergencies is important. Emergency response plans
protect the health, safety and lives of people at your worksite, as well as minimize business
losses related to damage to property and the environment.
There are many types of emergencies, such as:
• fires, spills, power outages
• critical injuries and medical emergencies
• explosions
• collisions
• violence, bomb threats
• natural disasters such as storms, tornados and floods
Other emergencies may be identified during worksite hazard assessments.
Employers must establish a written emergency response plan in case of an emergency
that may require rescue or evacuation. Workers who may be affected must be consulted
in its development.
An emergency response plan must include:
• the identification of potential emergencies (based on hazard assessments)
• procedures for dealing with the identified emergencies
• the identification of, location of and operational procedures for
emergency equipment
• the emergency response training requirements
• the location and use of emergency facilities
• the fire protection requirements
• the alarm and emergency communication requirements
• the first aid services required
• procedures for rescue and evacuation
• the designated rescue and evacuation workers
Additionally, an employer must:
• designate the workers who will provide rescue services and supervise evacuation
procedures in an emergency
• ensure that designated workers are trained in appropriate emergency response
procedures, including regular exercises and drills
Reference: OHS Code, Part 7
Theatre companies need detailed emergency response plans to ensure that all workers and
patrons are safely and efficiently evacuated from a facility in the event of a fire or other
emergency. All workers must know their roles and responsibilities in the event of such
an emergency/evacuation. The plan should apply to all phases of a production, including
performance. Annual improvements to and testing of the plan can and should be coordinated
in partnership with the local fire department.
Training and orientation in the emergency response plan should be provided to all workers,
even if they are only working in the facility for a short number of hours.
All venues should have an “Emergency Contact List” posted throughout the facility that lists
the local emergency service providers (911 or equivalent), workplace first aiders, employer
and supervisor emergency contact information, etc.
Emergency Evacuation Planning
Strategies for evacuating theatres in an orderly and controlled fashion include:
1. Ensuring your theatre has an operating fire alarm system that all workers understand.
2. Identifying the following information:
• your theatre’s fire protection systems (e.g. automatic sprinkler systems and fire curtains)
• location of fire extinguishers and the workers trained/designated to use them
• location of fire/emergency exits throughout the theatre facility (evacuation routes must
lead directly to the exterior of the facility and remain unobstructed)
• emergency lighting or location of flashlights (should a power failure occur)
• emergency power system (generator/battery system)
• meeting area for all evacuees
3. Supplementing the fire alarm with trained workers ready to act upon the theatre’s
emergency procedures.
4. Ensuring workers understand and carry out assigned responsibilities if an emergency occurs
during rehearsal or performance. Assign tasks such as:
• restoring the house lights and onstage work lights
• silencing running sound cues
• ensuring the fire curtain can safely operate
• securing any flown or otherwise unsafe scenery
• doing a head count at the meeting place of all workers to ensure
all have safely evacuated
• determining and announcing when it is safe to return to the building
5. Providing targeted and timely evacuation instructions to patrons through a pre-recorded
voice communication, public address or microphone system (assuming the power is working).
6. Planning for assistance for the very young, elderly and people with disabilities.
Fire Extinguishers
Fire departments as well as some fire extinguisher manufacturers can provide fire
extinguisher training to workers. Only workers trained in the proper use of fire extinguishers
should ever attempt to fight a fire. Training should involve both instruction and hands-on
practice, culminating in putting out an actual (controlled) fire with a fire extinguisher.
Training is recommended for front of house workers, stage management, technical directors,
scenic and stage carpenters, props and wardrobe workers and all technicians.
There are different types of fire extinguishers for different types of fires. Multipurpose dry
chemical ABC extinguishers will suffice for most theatres; however, it is recommended that
theatre companies consult with the local fire department to ensure fire protection and
prevention requirements are met.
Fire extinguishers should be located throughout the theatre facility, close to potential fire
hazards and where they can easily be reached while a fire is still small, but not where they
could be a hazard to workers or where they could get damaged.
Fire extinguishers must be inspected according to manufacturer’s specifications.
Potential Emergencies
(based on hazard assessment)
The following are identified potential
emergencies: Fire
In the event of a fire occurring within or affecting
the work site, the office manager makes the
following decisions and ensures the appropriate key
steps are taken:
Emergency Procedures
Advise all personnel. Shout “Fire. Fire.”
Pull the fire alarm to alert the nearest fire
station and initiate the fire alarm within the
Evacuate all persons to a safe point and account
for everyone including visitors and clients.
Emergency equipment is located at:
Fire Alarm
- at the reception desk
- by stage door
Location of Emergency Equipment
Fire Extinguisher
- in the production hallway
Fire Hose
- in the production hallway next to the
fire extinguisher
Panic Alarm Button
- at the main reception desk under the computer
Workers Trained in the Use
of Emergency Equipment
Emergency Response
Training Requirements
Sun Shine – Fire Extinguisher
Jane Doe – Fire Extinguisher
Type of Training
Use of fire extinguishers
Orientation and annually
The nearest emergency services are located:
Location and Use of
Emergency Facilities
Fire station: 10 Fir Street – 2 blocks east
Ambulance: 40 Sun Street – 10 blocks south
Police: 1 Police Plaza – 20 blocks west
Hospital: 101 Hospital Avenue – 4 blocks east
Fire Protection Requirements
Alarm and Emergency
Communication Requirements
Sprinkler systems are located in all rooms of the
work site.
Pulling the fire alarm will automatically alert
the fire department and initiate an alarm within
the building.
The fire alarm signal is intermittent sharp beeps.
Emergency Response Plan
(Theatre Company)
Emergency Response Plan
First Aid supplies are located at:
- Type No. 1 First Aid Kit at the main
reception desk.
– Type No. 1 First Aid Kit in the production office.
– Blankets in the production office.
First Aid
First Aiders are:
Jane First Aider – Reception Day shift (9am – 5pm)
James First Aider – Head Carpenter (9am – 5pm)
Transportation for ill or injured workers is by
ambulance. Call 911.
Evacuate and direct all persons to the safe
designated gathering point in the staff parking
lot and account for everyone including visitors
and clients.
Procedures for
Evacuation and Rescue
Assist ill or injured workers to evacuate the building.
Provide first aid to injured workers if required.
Call 911 to arrange for transportation of ill
or injured workers to the nearest health care
facility if required.
Designated Rescue
and Evacuation Workers
The following workers are trained in rescue
and evacuation:
Joe Smith – Sales
John James – Maintenance
Signature (General Manager, Production Manager, etc.)
If You Discover a Fire:
Sound the fire alarm by activating the nearest pull station, if safe to do so.
Carry out pre-planned assignments, if applicable.
Leave your work area immediately and evacuate the building quickly by the nearest
safe exit. Close all doors and windows behind you.
caution: If you are working on a process that may cause further complications if left
unattended, it should be secured before you leave, provided you will not endanger your
own safety.
Use exit stairwells to evacuate the building. Do not use elevators.
If closed doors are encountered on the way to an exit:
• feel the doorknob for heat before opening.
• if not hot, brace yourself against door and open slightly to check for heat and/or
smoke. Do not look directly through the opening or place your face where heat or
flames could reach it.
• if you feel air pressure or hot draft, close the door quickly and proceed to an
alternative exit.
If you encounter smoke in the stairway, use an alternative exit.
Go to your designated meeting place and gather with others from your department for an
attendance check and further instructions.
Supervisors are to:
• perform an attendance check.
• inform the Fire Department if anyone is thought to be missing.
Do not return to the building until the alarm has been investigated by the Fire
Department and clearance has been given to return.
Emergency Procedures
(Theatre Company)
Emergency Procedures
Stage Manager
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Announce on headset that the performance is being stopped: all cues shall be
stopped and work and house lights shall be brought to full.
• Tell the Assistant Stage Manager to direct the actors offstage and make the
evacuation announcement to the audience.
• Page the announcement to the crew: “Ladies and Gentlemen, crew to
backstage.” (repeat)
• Contact the House Manager on headset.
• Tell everyone on headset to begin the Evacuation Procedure.
• Page the evacuation announcement to the company: “Ladies and Gentlemen,
please evacuate the building. Remain calm and assist anyone who needs help. Do
not use the elevator. After you exit, go to the meeting place.” (repeat)
• Take Emergency Binder with these Emergency Procedures.
• Exit the building through the nearest safe exit and meet at the meeting place. Do not
use the elevator.
• With the ASM, conduct a head count of the Acting Company and Stage
Management using lists provided by the Assistant Stage Manager.
• Receive head counts from the Head Carpenter, Wardrobe Master, Wigs & Makeup
and Children’s Supervisor.
• Report any missing personnel to the Fire Department.
Following the Evacuation:
• Meet the House Manager and Head Carpenter at ______________________ (location)
to discuss resuming or canceling the performance.
• Be available to provide information to the Fire Department if requested.
• Contact the Technical Director.
• Ensure the Senior Managers have been contacted. If needed, the Emergency
Contact List is available from ______________________ (location) .
• Make an announcement to the acting company and staff at ______________________
(location) regarding clearance to return to the building, and resuming or canceling
the performance.
Assistant Stage Manager
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Ensure that program sound is left on so that the Lobby Usher will hear
the announcements.
• Take the announcement cards from ______________________ (location) and go on
stage wearing a headset.
• Direct the actors off stage.
• Standing center stage, make the evacuation announcement to the audience: “Ladies
and Gentlemen, please evacuate the building. Ushers will direct you to safe exits.
Please remain calm and assist anyone who needs help.” (repeat)
• If safe to do so, stay onstage as the audience evacuates.
• Exit the theatre through the nearest safe exit and meet at the meeting place. Do not
use the elevator.
• Put on the safety vest for increased visibility.
• Assist the Stage Manager with the head count.
Head Stage Carpenter
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Bring up onstage work lights.
• Open all backstage masking curtains.
• Ensure that exits are clear of any scenery that may interfere with the safe
evacuation of the building. Remove scenery, furniture and props from underneath
the fire curtain.
• Secure any scenery in an unsafe condition.
• If any exits are known to be unsafe due to fire or smoke, direct people to alternative exits.
• Supervise the evacuation of the company and ensure the backstage is clear.
• Exit the theatre through the nearest safe exit and meet at the meeting place. Do not
use the elevator.
• Conduct a head count of Stage Crew and report in with the Stage Manager.
• Be available to provide information to the Fire Department if requested.
Following the Evacuation:
• Meet the Stage Manager at ______________________ (location) to discuss resuming
or canceling the performance.
• Be available to provide information to the Fire Department if requested.
• Contact the Technical Director.
• Ensure the Senior Managers have been contacted. If needed, the Emergency
Contact List is available from ______________________ (location).
• Make an announcement to the production crew at ______________________ (location)
regarding clearance to return to the building, and resuming or canceling the performance.
Emergency Procedures
• Take a pen, the daily schedule and the Emergency Binder (containing the
Emergency Contact List, safety vest, company phone list, scene breakdown
and show programme).
Emergency Procedures
Head of Electrics
Upon Hearing Fire Alarm Bells:
• Bring up house lights.
• Turn off stage lights.
• Exit the theatre through the nearest safe exit and meet at the meeting place.
Do not use the elevator.
• Report in with the Head Carpenter.
Head of Sound
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Stop any sound cues that are running.
• Exit the theatre through the nearest safe exit and meet at the meeting place. Do not
use the elevator.
• Report in with the Head Carpenter.
Property Master/Stage Crew
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Ensure that exits are clear of any scenery that may interfere with the safe evacuation
of the building.
• Secure any scenery in an unsafe condition and await further instruction.
• Exit the theatre through the nearest safe exit and meet at the meeting place. Do not
use the elevator.
• Report in with the Head Carpenter.
Acting Company
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Stop the performance.
• Exit the theatre through the nearest safe exit and meet at the meeting place.
Do not use the elevator.
• Report in with the Stage Manager.
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Check that the dressing rooms have been evacuated.
• Assist elderly actors and children, if necessary.
• Exit the theatre through the nearest safe exit and meet at the meeting place. Do not
use the elevator.
• Report in with the Stage Manager.
Wigs and Makeup Staff
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Exit the theatre through the nearest safe exit and meet at the meeting place. Do not
use the elevator.
• Report in with the Stage Manager.
Children’s Supervisor
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Assist the children in evacuating the theatre through the nearest safe exit and meet
at the meeting place. Do not use the elevator
• Report in with the Stage Manager.
House Manager
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Pick up the Clear-Com headset in the House Manager’s Office.
• Take these Emergency Procedures, the Emergency Contact List, a safety vest,
a pen, a note of the house count, a staff list and a work schedule.
• When the Stage Manager tells everyone to begin the Evacuation Procedure,
go off headset.
• If any exits are known to be unsafe due to fire or smoke, direct people to an
alternative exit.
• Supervise the audience evacuation from the building.
• If safe to do so, ensure the auditorium is clear.
• Exit the theatre via the safest route and meet at the meeting place. Put on the safety
vest for increased visibility.
Emergency Procedures
Wardrobe Attendants
Emergency Procedures
• Conduct head counts:
- Ushers
- Food & Beverage Staff
- Ticket Office Staff
• Report any missing personnel to the Fire Department.
Following the Evacuation:
• Meet the Stage Manager at ______________________ (location) to discuss resuming
or canceling the performance.
• Ensure the Senior Managers have been contacted. If needed, the Emergency
Contact List is available ______________________ (location).
• In the event that the performance is cancelled, arrange reimbursement or
credit for tickets.
• Inform patrons and staff of the decision to resume or cancel the performance,
as well as details about reimbursement or credit for tickets, if needed.
Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm Bells:
• Prepare for evacuation:
- Open all curtains and auditorium and lobby doors.
- Check washrooms are clear.
- Stand near the fire exit doors.
• The ASM will make the evacuation announcement from the stage.
• If any exits are known to be unsafe due to fire or smoke, direct people to an
alternative exit.
• Direct patrons to the nearest safe exit, as announced, saying, “This way out please.
Go to ______________________ (location).”
• When the auditorium is mostly cleared, assist patrons as needed.
• Once the theatre is clear, exit the theatre via the safest route and meet at the
meeting place.
• Report in with the House Manager.
Acute Illness or Injury
A physical injury or sudden occurrence of an illness that results in the need for
immediate care.
AEII (Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry)
The government ministry responsible for the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation
and Code. Its job is to work with employers and workers to ensure legislation is followed
as much as possible to prevent workplace incidents, injuries and illnesses, and to ensure
employers and workers are educated in their occupational health and safety duties.
Best Practice
A best practice in health and safety is a program, process, strategy or activity that: has
been shown to be effective in the prevention of workplace injury or illness; has been
implemented, maintained and evaluated; is based on current information; and is of value
to, or transferable to, other organizations. Best practices are living documents and must be
reviewed and modified on a regular basis to assess their validity, accuracy and applicability.
They may and often do exceed the requirements of OHS legislation.
Competent Worker
An adequately qualified, suitably trained person with sufficient experience to safely perform
work without supervision.
Due Diligence
The level of judgment, care, prudence, determination and activity that a person would
reasonably be expected to do under particular circumstances.
Any situation or occurrence of a serious nature, developing suddenly and unexpectedly,
and demanding immediate attention.
You are an employer if: you employ one or more workers; you are designated to represent
an employer; your responsibility is to oversee workers’ health and safety; or you are
A thing used to equip workers at a worksite; includes tools, supplies, machinery and
sanitary facilities.
First Aid
The immediate and temporary care given to an injured or suddenly ill person at a worksite
using available equipment, supplies, facilities or services. First aid has three objectives:
preserve life; prevent the injury or illness from becoming worse; promote recovery.
First Aider (emergency, standard or advanced)
A competent individual designated by an employer to provide first aid to workers
at a worksite.
Any situation, condition or thing that may be dangerous to the safety or health of workers.
There are four standard hazard categories: physical hazards; chemical hazards; biological
hazards; and psychosocial hazards.
Hazard Assessment
Careful evaluation of all equipment, machinery, work areas and processes to identify
potential sources of hazards that workers may be exposed to.
Hazard Control
Control measures implemented to eliminate or reduce the risk of harm to workers.
See Acute Illness or Injury.
Imminent Danger
Any danger that isn’t normal for a job, or any dangerous conditions under which a worker
wouldn’t normally carry out their work. If workers think their work may put them or another
worker in imminent danger, they must refuse to do it.
An undesired event that results in physical harm to a person or damage to property, including
near misses.
See Acute Illness or Injury.
Joint Health and Safety Committee
A group of worker and employer representatives working together to identify and solve
health and safety problems at the workplace. In Alberta, the establishment of a committee is
voluntary, except for those workplaces required by Ministerial Order to have a committee.
Near Miss
An incident that did not cause visible injury or property damage but that could have resulted
in serious injury, personal harm, death or property damage.
OHS Act (Occupational Health and Safety Act)
The Occupational Health and Safety Act sets out general requirements to ensure workplace
conditions are safe and do not pose a danger of injury or illness. A general duty clause serves
as a blanket statement that employers are accountable for the health and safety of workers.
OHS Code (Occupational Health and Safety Code)
The Occupational Health and Safety Code sets out specific health and safety requirements
for work-related operations and practices within Alberta’s various industries to ensure that
workplace conditions are safe and do not pose a danger of injury or illness.
OHS Regulation (Occupational Health and Safety Regulation)
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation sets out requirements for specific workplace
conditions and work practices that must be met in order for a workplace to be considered in
compliance with OHS legislation.
Partnerships in Health and Safety
A voluntary Alberta program of Workplace Health and Safety based on the concept that when
employers and workers build effective Health and Safety Management Systems the human and
financial costs of workplace injuries and illnesses will be reduced.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Equipment or apparel that when worn lessens the potential harmful effects of a known hazard
(i.e. gloves, hard hats, steel-toed footwear, etc.).
Prime Contractor
If there are two or more employers involved in work at a worksite at the same time, there must
be a prime contractor. The prime contractor for a worksite is: the contractor, employer or other
person who enters into an agreement with the owner of the worksite to be the prime contractor;
or if no agreement has been made or is in force, the owner of the worksite.
Reasonably Practicable
A legally defined term that is assessed using the reasonable person test.
Reasonable Person Test
The assessment of what a dozen peers would consider reasonable in a similar set of
circumstances, resulting in a balanced and wise judgment that could be defended to others.
Safe Work Practice
A written set of guidelines that establishes a standard of performance for an activity.
Safe Work Procedure
A written, step-by-step description of how to perform a task from beginning to end.
Standards are produced by voluntary organizations, such as the Canadian Standards
Association (CSA), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International
Organization for Standardization (ISO). Standards do not have the power of law. However,
if they are adopted by legislation, they become part of the law and are enforceable. For
example, if the OHS Code states that workers must wear footwear approved to a particular
CSA standard, then the CSA standard has the power of law.
WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)
A comprehensive plan for providing information on the safe use of hazardous materials in
Canadian workplaces. The information is provided by means of: product labels; Material
Safety Data Sheets (MSDS); and worker education programs.
A person engaged in an occupation, including managers, supervisors and volunteers.
Workplace Health and Safety (WHS)
A division/department of Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry.
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Physical Hazards
General Safety Precautions—OHS Code Part 12
Design and Construction
Rehearsals and Performance
Stage Combat
Explosives/Pyrotechnics—OHS Code Part 33
Working at Heights—OHS Code Parts 8, 9, 22 and 23
Rigging—OHS Code Part 21
Tools, Equipment and Machinery—OHS Code Part 25
Managing the Control of Hazardous Energy (Locking Out)—OHS Code Part 15
Powered Mobile Equipment (Vehicles)—OHS Code Part 19
Lifting and Handling Loads (Manual Materials Handling)—OHS Code Part 14
Repetitive Strain Injuries
Noise in the Workplace—OHS Code Part 16
Chapter Three: Chemical Hazards
Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)—OHS Code Part 29
Open Flame
Atmospherics (Smoke and Fog)
Chapter Four: Biological Hazards
Communicable Diseases—OHS Code Part 35
Chapter Five: Psychosocial Hazards
Working Alone—OHS Code Part 28
Violence—OHS Code Part 27
Chapter One
Consider all the different departments, craftspeople and workers it takes to create and
produce theatre. Consider all the different productions you have been a part of and seen.
While the work performed in rehearsal halls, production shops, backstage and during
production is as dramatically different as the workers performing the work, all workers in
the theatre industry have similar hazards to contend with and can employ similar methods
of hazard elimination and control. Hazard assessment and control is the foundation of a
safe and healthy workplace and is the most important and basic step toward success in our
industry. Refer to Part One: Chapter Four for detailed information on hazard assessment
and control.
This section provides an extensive overview of hazards—tasks, equipment and materials,
working conditions, etc.—that are encountered in many theatre departments during all
stages of production and “best practices” on how to eliminate, minimize and control these
hazards. Best practices address engineering controls, administrative controls, safe work
practices and procedures, personal protective equipment, safety equipment and other
methods for ensuring the health and safety of workers.
This section should be read and used in tandem with OHS legislation, and assumes
that a proper hazard assessment has already been performed at the worksite or for
the production, and that competent/trained workers are engaged in the work.
Chapter Two
In This Chapter
• General Safety Precautions—OHS Code Part 12
• Venues
• Strike
• Design and Construction
• Rehearsals and Performance
• Stage Combat
• Weaponry
• Electrics
• Explosives/Pyrotechnics—OHS Code Part 33
• Working at Heights—OHS Code Parts 8, 9, 22 and 23
• Rigging—OHS Code Part 21
• Tools, Equipment and Machinery—OHS Code Part 25
• Managing the Control of Hazardous Energy (Locking Out)—OHS Code Part 15
• Powered Mobile Equipment (Vehicles)—OHS Code Part 19
• Lifting and Handling Loads (Manual Materials Handling)—OHS Code Part 14
• Repetitive Strain Injuries
• Noise in the Workplace—OHS Code Part 16
Appendix Items
• Requirements Under the Firearms Act for Stage Productions—
courtesy of the Canada Firearms Centre
General Safety Precautions—OHS Code, Part 12
Legislated Requirements
• Worksites must be kept clean and free of tripping hazards.
• Materials and/or equipment must be placed, maintained or stored so it will not cause
injury to workers.
Reference: OHS Code, Part 12
Best Practices for Cleanliness and Slipping/Tripping Hazards
Provide adequate work and storage space for each department and worker.
Establish a safe work policy for the cleaning of all work areas on a regular basis and ensure
that workers have the supplies and equipment they need to keep their work areas clean.
Establish strict cleanliness policies for areas where tools and equipment are used. Clutter,
sawdust, paint, unsecured ground cloths, etc. can hide (and create) potential hazards.
Cables, cords and hoses should be positioned in minimal traffic areas and always
covered/taped down to the floor or suspended from above.
Remove any and all nails protruding from lumber.
Liquids used on and off stage as part of production design or stage business, as well as
liquid residues formed from the use of atmospherics (smoke, fog, dry ice, etc.), can
create slipping hazards on floors and other surfaces. Apply non-skid paint treatments,
mats or adhesive strips to hazardous areas and surfaces, or ensure workers have adequate
footwear for conditions.
A projector needed to be positioned
in the house—on the floor directly
in an audience aisle—in order to
achieve proper projection image size.
The scenic carpenters built a small
“bridge” to cover the projector and
fixtures, secured it to the floor in
front of the audience seating risers,
and carpeted it to blend with the
house décor.
Best Practices for Storage
Do not place materials or equipment where they will restrict worker movement or block
aisles or exits.
Maintain accurate storage inventory (e.g. costumes, props, lighting equipment), store
items by category and stack shelves to prevent awkward weight distribution and reaching.
covered cables
Ensure storage shelves and racks are adequately engineered to withstand intended use/abuse.
Invest in rolling stepladders with railings for costume and prop storage facilities.
Ensure adequate lighting in all storage facilities and areas.
Store flammables and other chemicals as required by Material Safety Data Sheets
(MSDSs) and manufacturers.
Mark storage locations with signs and warnings.
rolling stepladder in
costume storage
Keep product containers tightly closed and in an upright position when not in use.
Prevent product containers from being damaged.
When transferring products to new containers, make sure the container material is
compatible with the product and properly label the new container.
Best Practices for “When the Lights Go Out” (Focus, Level Set, Cue to Cue,
Technical and Dress Rehearsals and Running the Show)
emergency exit sign
One of the basic principles of workplace health and safety is that work areas be and remain
well lit and free of trip hazards at all times. In theatre, however, much of the work is done
in the dark with any number of physical hazards present. Theatre artists are almost always
trying to achieve true black in the theatre when the house lights go out—irked by glowing
red emergency exit signs and running lights on stairs in the house, they compromise
aesthetics for safety all the time. Controls such as using blue-outs or brown-outs instead
of black-outs, installing backstage and onstage safety lighting such as light emitting diodes
(LEDs), and spiking scenery and other hazards with glow tape all help to provide enough
light and definition for work to be done safely.
Leave as much work light on as possible at all times: when rehearsing, hanging and cabling
lights and audio gear, during set installation and strike, on breaks and prior to/following
the performance, etc. Ensure flashlights and/or headlamps are available for all workers
who may need them.
scenery properly glow taped
Before the work lights go out (during preproduction, in rehearsal or for performance):
• Ensure all workers have received a safety orientation for the venue/worksite.
• Identify, minimize and mark all hazards backstage and onstage.
• Spike/glow tape all riser, stage, stair and other edges, as well as corners, entrances
and exits. Charge glow tape.
• Spike/glow tape all railings, handholds and other safety design features. Charge glow tape.
• Set up, test and turn on all backstage and onstage running light systems/LEDs.
• Ensure exit signs, aisle and other safety lighting are functioning, turned on and visible.
• Rehearse all hazardous sequences—such as scene and costume changes, dance,
stage combat and stunt choreography—under work lights until they can be done
with accuracy, confidence and safety in performance light.
• Ensure costumes, props and moving scenery are ready and in place.
• Front of House workers should ensure that audience members are seated before the
house lights go out. They should be provided with flashlights for emergencies and for
safely seating latecomers.
When the work lights go out (during preproduction, in rehearsal or for performance):
• All unnecessary movement in the theatre (backstage, onstage and in the house)
should be kept to a minimum.
• Designers and technicians should work to minimize the total time work light is off.
• With the exception of lighting focus, no work on ladders, scaffolding or personnel
lifts should be performed.
• No set pieces or other equipment should be moved unnecessarily.
• Communication between the stage manager, lighting operator and backstage crew
must be maintained at all times.
• Stage management must monitor all movement onstage and backstage including
actors and technicians. Consider investing in infrared cameras to monitor movement
in the dark.
• Backstage and onstage workers must alert stage management if they encounter any
new hazards, including light levels that are too low to work safely.
• If there are any newly identified safety hazards, work must stop until the hazard has
been addressed.
• If a hazard is identified once a performance is in progress, the stage manager and
worker(s) at risk must decide if the hazard is an imminent danger, and make a decision
about stopping the show.
In the case of a blackout:
• During rehearsals and technical work, all workers must be informed before
a blackout can occur. The lighting operator must be heard by all saying “Going to Black.”
• All movement on and off stage must be kept to a minimum during the blackout.
• Blackouts must be kept to a minimum, in number and length.
• Similarly warn workers before restoring lighting in the theatre from a blackout or
dimly lit state.
Do not leave a performance space or venue in pitch-blackness. Leave a “ghost light” or
other light source on when the theatre is not in use.
ghost light
Not all theatre takes place in a “perfect” venue. Productions occur anywhere and everywhere—
from old movie theatres to church basements, city parks to school gymnasiums, warehouses
to storefronts. When installing a performance venue into an existing space designed/
engineered for other purposes, extreme care must be taken to ensure that a safe and
healthy working environment for all workers, and eventually the audience, is created and
maintained. Also, working in unfamiliar spaces is a common issue—theatre workers are
mobile and venues, be they theatres or not, are often rented for rehearsals and single
productions. Renters should always ensure that venues, even when rented from/managed
by a theatre company, are free of hazards that could put their workers at risk.
Best Practices
Consult Building and Fire Code regulations when choosing a space as a venue. Not all
spaces are suitable for conversion into theatres.
Obtain hazard assessments and other appropriate information, such as maps with
emergency exits and equipment highlighted, from the building owner. Learn the
approved occupancy/capacity of the space, building emergency procedures and
equipment, the fire alarm system, breaker panels, ventilation system and temperature
control system; find out if there are potential concerns related to noise, air quality,
cleanliness, building materials, general disrepair, etc.
Ensure adequate entrances and exits for workers and the public. Emergency exits must
be marked with emergency signage and be equipped with panic hardware.
Ensure adequate structural support for any materials and equipment to be hung and/or
rigged. Use ground support (scaffold towers) in venues where you do not know the
ceiling/roof’s load capacity.
Use engineered structures for temporary staging and/or audience platforms. Ensure
platforms are securely fastened together and evenly joined. If the joins cause an
uneven surface, cover the surface completely to ensure it is level.
Ensure adequate power supply for electrical load.
Take safety equipment and supplies with you to the worksite—first aid kits, PPE, etc.
dimming rack—
ensure adequate power supply
Invite a municipal fire inspector to inspect temporary venues for safety concerns
and requirements.
Strikes can be very dangerous—many workers from many departments converge onstage
and backstage with scenery, props, costumes, lighting and audio equipment, cabling, etc.
Because of the number of workers involved and the number of activities taking place
simultaneously/in close quarters, good planning and management are essential.
Best Practices
Production managers and technical directors should ensure that everyone is aware
of their duties and be present at the strike to supervise the work.
Supervisors should not participate in the physical labour of the strike.
Schedule strikes so that different departments work at different times.
At each hour interval, a five-minute assessment of progress should be done with all
department heads and/or crew chiefs. Work does not necessarily need to stop for these
assessments to occur.
Avoid scheduling strikes directly following a closing performance and directly before the
cast and crew party when feasible. Fatigue is often an issue and everyone is looking to
be done as quickly as possible. If the strike must be performed immediately, use a new crew.
Strikes should only proceed under full work light.
Items and equipment in pathways should be removed first, followed by props and furniture.
Particular attention should be paid to overhead work and working at heights.
See both Best Practices for Working at Heights and Best Practices for Rigging for more information.
Design and Construction
Production managers, technical directors, stage managers and designers must conduct
hazard assessments for each production which should address set interaction, performance
activity, scene changes, costume changes, pyrotechnics, open flame, atmospherics and any
other potential hazard backstage or onstage, as well as any previously noted venue hazards.
Best Practices for Design and Construction
Hazard assessments for venue conditions, sets, props, costumes, lighting, sound, special
effects, etc. should be undertaken at the design stage and progressively as required
throughout construction, rehearsal, installation, performance and strike.
The safety of all who handle, wear or interact with design elements should be taken into
account in all stages of design, purchase, construction, repair, maintenance and use.
Designers should always take into consideration the size, physical fitness and
movement/blocking needs of performers and crew.
Use professionally engineered and manufactured products. Do not alter or compromise
engineered products.
Specialty items constructed for productions should be accompanied by instructions for
their use, care and maintenance.
Design elements should be checked regularly for wear or damage and repaired or replaced
when necessary.
set design with guardrail
Performers and crew should immediately report any signs of wear or damage to design
elements to a member of the stage management team.
Best Practices for Scenic Design
Designers, technical directors and scenic carpenters should have an intimate understanding
of building standards and codes, and the reasons for their existence. Sets should be constructed
according to building standards.
It is not uncommon for production designs to include practical set pieces that are more
than 3 meters high. If workers, including performers, are to work on elevated set pieces,
they must be protected from falling.
Sets and scenery should be actor/crew friendly—both for movement during performance
and for scene changes.
Moving and automated platforms and scenery, as well as other hazardous set elements
such as raked stage floors, need to be designed and constructed with care and attention
to safety features.
An actor needed to get from the top
level of a two-storey set to the stage
level very quickly during a musical
A pool slide was installed and
secured backstage. This saved the
actor from having to jump into the
arms of stagehands waiting below!
Best Practices for Lighting Design
Use blue-outs and/or brown-outs instead of black-outs whenever practicable.
Use offstage lighting to silhouette hazards backstage.
Lighting instruments should be focused with respect for the actors’ height, performance
requirements, etc. If performers are unavailable for the focus session, use light walkers
of the same height as the performers.
Performers should not look directly into stage lights.
See Best Practices for Electrics for more information.
Best Practices for Costume Design and Construction
Within the reasonable bounds of period, style and character, costumes (including
footwear, masks, wigs and headgear) should be designed, constructed and fit so as
not to impede performers’ movement, vision, breath or hearing, or to cause injury or
unnecessary discomfort.
Rehearsal costumes and footwear should be provided wherever practicable and should
be as close as possible in size, weight and shape to the intended performance articles.
ill-fitting costume—performance hazard
The company should ask performers and craftspeople if they have any specific allergies
or sensitivities to costume or costume care materials (i.e. fabrics, dyes, detergents), or
street makeup, stage/special effects makeup or other skin/hair products. Workers should
report immediately any adverse reaction, irritation, discomfort or illness from such
products. Aerosolized products, such as static guard, hairspray and self-tanners should
only be used in well-ventilated areas.
Dyes, solvents or other chemicals used in the construction, repair and maintenance
of costumes should be allowed to off gas completely before use.
Performers should be given adequate instruction and rehearsal time to become
accustomed to all costumes as they will be used in performance, including costume
quick changes.
rehearsal prop
When open flame or any pyrotechnic effect is used onstage, costumes worn near the
flame or effect must be made fire retardant and tested before use.
performance prop
See Best Practices for Chemical and Biological Hazards for more information.
Best Practices for Props
The company should ask performers and craftspeople if they have any specific allergies or
sensitivities to materials or products that may be used in prop construction. Workers should
report immediately any adverse reaction, irritation, discomfort or illness from prop materials.
Paints, dyes, adhesives and solvents used in construction, repair and maintenance
should be allowed to evaporate completely before the prop is used.
Portions of props that may potentially come into contact with performers or other
workers should be free of materials or finishes that could cause injury (rough edges,
chips, loose material, etc.).
Hand props should be designed, chosen and built with consideration for their specific
use onstage and physical demands on the performers.
Rehearsal props should be provided wherever practicable and should be as close as
possible in size, weight and shape to the intended performance articles.
Performers should be informed of any changes to a hand prop or stage business
already in place and be given adequate instruction and time to work with the changes
before performance.
Particular attention should be paid to the safe handling and use of food and beverages
to be consumed during a production. There should be no consumption of alcohol onstage.
See Best Practices for Chemical and Biological Hazards for more information.
Several eggs needed to be broken
onstage—both over an actor’s head
and on the set.
Eggs were refrigerated in the green
room, and washed for each show
in a bleach solution as part of the
preshow routine. Cleanup of the egg
material on the set was integrated
into stage business during the
transition and following scene to
eliminate a possible slipping hazard.
Rehearsals and Performance
Best Practices
Rehearsal spaces should allow adequate room for free movement and blocking.
Set design features should be marked/taped on the floor to scale from the beginning
of the rehearsal process.
Stage managers should ensure adequate time in the rehearsal schedule for the safe and
successful integration of all potentially hazardous production elements, including stage
combat sequences, firearms, performer flying, pyrotechnic or atmospheric effects,
costume changes and scene changes. The stage manager should note rehearsals that will
be used to integrate any of these elements on the rehearsal schedule and callboard.
The stage management team must develop clear, specialized communication systems for
any running crew or performers involved in hazardous sequences. These communication
systems must be rehearsed adequately and regularly.
Performers involved in dance, stage combat or stunt choreography should have dedicated
and uninterrupted warm-up time and space prior to each rehearsal and performance.
Special consideration should be given to productions involving children and/or animals.
A full safety system specifically for them should be established.
Section 28:00 of the Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA)—Working Environment,
Health and Safety—outlines industry standards for various health and safety issues for
performers, including extraordinary risks, rehearsal space and staging requirements,
dressing room requirements and general health, wellbeing and care. They are good
guidelines to follow regardless of whether or not your theatre engages performers who
are members of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association.
Stage Combat
Stage combat is a coordinated series of moves creating the illusion of violent intent,
requiring specific timing and skill, involving either unarmed combat or the use of weapons.
It includes any activity that is not normally executed by the average person and that
performed incorrectly would most likely result in bodily injury. Stage combat is hazardous,
and due diligence must be exercised to reduce the danger to an acceptable risk.
Best Practices
Always employ a competent fight director/choreographer. This means someone
recognized as competent by peers in the theatre community/entertainment industry.
Fight Directors Canada (( offers training and certification for fight directors.
Community theatres that traditionally employ volunteer/non-professional labour
should make an important exception in this case and seek a professional to assist.
The Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA) between the Professional Association of
Canadian Theatres (PACT) and Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA) requires that a
fight director be contracted whenever two or more artists are required to participate
in a stage fight involving one or more of the following elements: weapons of any sort,
including furniture or other props used as weapons, and/or martial arts and unarmed combat.
Fight directors should be consulted regarding the design of all physical elements
(scenery, lighting, props, costumes, weapons, etc.) for the production that could affect
the fight choreography.
Appoint a fight captain, a member of the cast with stage combat experience, to observe
rehearsals of all stage combat sequences and supervise/run rehearsals prior to each
performance in the absence of the fight director.
Pre-show rehearsals for all stage combat sequences should be mandatory.
• Ensure complete control of the space. Allow no distractions once the rehearsal
has started.
• Do not rush the rehearsal under any circumstances.
• Run each sequence a minimum of three times before each show: first as a walk
through, then again at 75% of performance speed with full intention. Corrections
should be given between the second and third runs only if necessary.
Actors should never be allowed to rehearse or perform a fight under the influence of
drugs, alcohol, extreme fatigue or illness.
Weapons are defined simply as “any object used in a staged fight for attack or defense”
(Ontario Ministry of Labour, Safety Guidelines for the Live Performance Industry in
Ontario, 3rd Edition). This includes edged/bladed weapons, firearms and props or furniture
used in stage combat choreography. It is impossible to remove all risk posed by the use
of weapons—theatre strives for a level of acceptable risk by attempting to eliminate and
control as many potential hazards as possible.
The Criminal Code of Canada and the Criminal Code Regulations prohibit and restrict
certain weapons, firearms and other devices, including certain replica/imitation
weapons and firearms. These laws include the definitions and prescriptions of prohibited
and restricted weapons, firearms and other devices and can be found on the federal
Department of Justice website at Additional information can be
obtained from the Canada Firearms Centre at
Best Practices for Non-Firing Weapons
Employ a competent weapons handler. In some situations, where appropriate, the fight
director, assistant stage manager, stage carpenter, etc. may perform this duty.
Only weapons specifically designed for stage combat and approved by the fight director
and/or weapons handler should be used. Ornamental, costume, antique or ceremonial
weapons are not acceptable. Do not use any weapon that depends on a mechanical
action for safety, such as retractable or collapsible weapons.
Develop a written weapons policy outlining the competencies and training for all workers
who handle weapons, as well as policies and procedures for transportation, handling
and storage of stage weaponry. The unauthorized use of any weapon should be forbidden.
All edged/bladed weapons (swords, knives, daggers, pole arms with a blade attached, etc.)
must have their points foiled—made blunt—and their blades properly balanced. Never
allow a sharp blade in rehearsal or on the stage.
good sword blade vs.
damaged sword blade
The weapons handler must maintain all weapons in safe working order, according to
law and manufacturer’s specifications.
The weapons handler, as well as the performer to use the weapon, should inspect
the weapon prior to each use, as close to the actual time it is required in rehearsal
or on stage as practicable. Weapons should be inspected for any damage, default or
compromise, such as loose handles, loose blades or burrs (jagged cuts a blade develops
when it strikes another blade or solid object).
The fight director and weapons handler only should instruct performers in the safe,
proper and appropriate handling and use of all weapons. Weapons should not be given
to performers or other workers until they are deemed competent to handle them.
Performers should use the same weapon(s) in all rehearsals and performances.
During rehearsals and performance, weapons should be placed away from entrances
and exits and in such as way that they will not cause injury. The weapons handler or
designate should supervise the weapons at all times.
The weapons handler should log all weapon use.
All weapons should be secured in locked cabinets when not in use.
All weapons should be accounted for and secured before workers are allowed to leave
the worksite.
Best Practices for Firearms
All Best Practices for Non-Firing Weapons should be followed.
Consult the Criminal Code of Canada, Criminal Code Regulations and Canada Firearms
Act to determine whether the device you intend to use and the manner in which you
intend to use it is subject to specific laws and licensing requirements. Contact the
provincial Chief Firearms Office with specific questions. In Alberta, call 780-495-7799
or 1-800-731-4000 (extension 9026).
Companies that possess firearms, prohibited weapons or prohibited devices are required
to comply with the regulations of the Canada Firearms Act. Of particular interest may be
the regulations presented in Storage, Display and Transportation of Firearms and Other
Weapons by Businesses and Special Authority to Possess.
Use only non-firing or blank-firing devices—devices that cannot, and cannot be
altered to, discharge live ammunition.
Use only blank ammunition
ammunition—ammunition containing a wax paper wad projectile
designed to combust on firing. Be aware that blanks can seriously injure or kill
workers if the firearm is not properly maintained or handled.
Live ammunition—ammunition containing a projectile—must never be used nor brought
to the theatre/stage.
All firearms, including non-functional reproductions, should always be treated as if they
were loaded.
All firearms must be registered. If you borrow or rent a firearm, ensure you obtain its
registration certificate as well.
Employ a licensed firearms technician as the weapons handler. Be sure the worker has
the appropriate license and any additional required training for the firearm being used.
properly signed gun cabinet
All firearms must be stored in accordance with federal regulations. Firearms should be
stored unloaded, with trigger locks, in locked cabinets. Fake and/or toy guns should be
stored as if they are real firearms. Alarm systems are highly recommended for storage facilities.
Keep an accurate inventory of all firearms, including which are blank-firing devices or
non-firing devices. Post the inventory wherever firearms are stored (inside the locked cabinet).
Weapons and ammunition should be stored separately whenever possible.
Smoking must not be permitted in any area where ammunition or powder is stored.
Signage should be posted.
All workers (crew, performers, front of house, etc.) should be informed in advance of the
intention to use a firearm in a production.
Rehearsals in which a firearm will be present and/or used should be clearly marked on
the rehearsal schedule and callboard.
All workers in the building/area should be warned prior to the firing of a blank.
Rehearsals should be conducted with non-firing devices, even if blank-firing devices are
to be used in the production.
Always limit the number of non-essential personnel in the area when firearms are in use.
No one should ever be forced to use a firearm.
Firearms should be inspected, maintained, loaded and unloaded by the weapons handler
only. They should be loaded in the presence of the actors involved in the scene as close
to the actual time that they are required on stage as practicable. They should be unloaded,
inspected and secured as soon as they are off stage.
Never hand a firearm to a person barrel-first.
Firearms should never be pointed at anyone, including yourself and/or the audience,
even when being fired during a performance.
Ensure adequate PPE, including personal hearing protection, is provided for any performer
or crew member who may require it.
During performance runs, post “Gunshot” warning signs at the entrance to the theatre
and print a notice in the program.
Electricity is a deadly force that must be handled with intelligence, respect and utmost safety.
Best Practices
All outlets should be considered live until proven dead.
Always consult a qualified electrician before beginning any electrical work. Only qualified
electricians should undertake the maintenance and/or installation of electrical services.
Only qualified electricians should “tie in” portable distribution panels to existing
electrical services, if not outfitted with proper connectors such as pin and sleeve (P&S)
or cam-lock.
Temporary distribution of electricity from distribution points such as dimming systems,
wall outlets, mains disconnects, distribution panels or generators should be done by
competent workers only.
All temporary services should be metered for correct voltage and polarity before any
fixtures, dimmers or other devices are connected.
All grounded equipment should be tested for continuity between the ground pin on the
plug and the metal parts of the lighting equipment before it is put into service.
Turn off power whenever possible. Be sure that all equipment that is being plugged and
unplugged is in the off position to avoid creating an arc at the receptacle.
All 4 or 5 wire connections with single wire connectors should be connected in the
following order: 1) Ground; 2) Neutral; 3) Hot or Live. These connections should be
disconnected in the reverse order (Ground last).
A disconnect switch or main breaker should be put in line in front of the connection.
All connections should be done with this switch in the off position.
Maximum rated loads of lighting dimmers, cables and boxes must not be exceeded.
Breakers must not be loaded to more than 80% of their rated capacity.
All extension cords and cables must be of sufficient gauge, voltage and amperage rating.
The connectors on the ends of the cords should have the similar ratings, be properly
strain relieved and in good working order.
Proper over-current protection should be used whenever there is a change in wire
or cable size or receptacle rating in the distribution system. Adapters that reduce the
receptacle rating from the plug that feeds them must contain over-current protection.
Any light or appliance that requires a grounded circuit should always be supplied with one.
Do not pull on the cord when unplugging equipment. This can cause the wires to pull out
of their termination in the plug. Always grasp the plug firmly to unplug.
Grounded extension cords should never have their grounding pins removed.
Ground cheats (ungrounded male to grounded female adapters) should not be used.
Ensure all cabling and cords are free of compromises such as cuts, frays, twists, kinks, etc.
Check the entire length of cables being used. Cables should not be denatured in any way.
If found, they should be discarded.
Cables should not be spliced; they should be connected to approved terminals or connectors.
Extension cords should not be used as permanent wiring.
All electrical equipment and devices must be protected from the weather. When there
is a possibility of moisture, all joins should be provided with adequate weather protection.
Cables and devices must be protected from foot and automobile traffic.
Only properly trained personnel should use or service “arc” or “higher voltage” gas
discharge lamps.
Metal shutters, barrels, housings and gobos can become extremely hot while in use.
Always use gloves—preferably leather—when handling a powered lighting fixture.
All lighting fixtures and accessories (gobos, gels, gel holders, etc.) must be safely secured
and be equipped with a secondary fall restraint to prevent the fixture or its accessories
from falling (i.e. a safety chain). Technicians must double check all safety chains when
hanging lights. The distance that a fixture might fall before being stopped by its safety
chain must be such that no strain is placed upon the electrical cord.
Only use correct wattage lamps in approved fixtures. Fixtures should fully contain all
parts of the lamp in the event of a lamp burst.
lighting fixture with safety chain
Instruments without lenses should be equipped with wire mesh guards.
Maintain adequate clearance between lighting fixtures and nearby items such as drapery,
scenery, scrim, etc. Pay particular attention to fixtures on pipes that may travel, or may
be blocked by drapery or scenery that travels.
Lighting instruments should be inspected for electrical safety and maintained on a
regular basis, including a formal annual check of the complete inventory.
Explosives/Pyrotechnics—OHS Code, Part 33
Pyrotechnics are special effects in which chemical reactions are used to produce heat,
light, gas, smoke and/or sound for entertainment purposes. Effects range from simulated
lightning to an actor shooting a tiny flash of fire from his fingertips to feature scenic design
elements such as burning buildings.
Hazards involved in working with pyrotechnic special effects include explosions, fires,
smoke and chemical inhalation and/or contact. The mishandling of pyrotechnics can result
in severe burns, wounds, vision and hearing loss, property damage and death. The safety
of pyrotechnicians, other workers and the audience must be the prime consideration for all
pyrotechnic events.
The use, handling, storage and transportation of explosives, including pyrotechnic
materials, must be in compliance with all applicable federal, provincial and local laws. In
Alberta, any worker who handles, prepares, fires, burns or destroys any type of explosive
must hold a valid blaster’s permit issued by Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry
(AEII) or a valid inter-provincial permit acceptable to AEII. A worker can qualify to apply
for a blaster’s permit after successfully completing an approved course, such as Natural
Resources Canada—Explosives Regulatory Division’s Pyrotechnics Special Effects Course
valid blaster’s permit
Approval for all pyrotechnic events, including licenses and permits, must be obtained
from the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), the agency responsible in any area for
granting approvals related to pyrotechnic special effects. The most common AHJ is the fire
department, but other agencies in various provinces/territories, cities or municipalities
can also serve as the AHJ. In order to meet the AHJ’s licensing and permit requirements,
you must provide proof of sufficient liability insurance (a minimum of $1,000,000.00) and
proof of the property/building owner’s approval of the pyrotechnic event. Other specific
requirements for obtaining pyrotechnic licenses and permits, such as test firing of effects,
are at the discretion of the AHJ.
Legislated Requirements
• Section 468(1) of the OHS Code states that an employer must ensure that a worker who
handles, prepares, loads, fires, burns or destroys an explosive is a blaster or under the
direct supervision of a blaster.
• Section 467(2) of the OHS Code states that safe work procedures for the handling of
pyrotechnic and special effects devices and explosives must be based on the National
Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1126: Standard for the Use of Pyrotechnics
Before a Proximate Audience (2001 Edition). This publication can be purchased from the
NFPA website at
Reference: OHS Code, Part 33
Best Practices
Always consider alternatives to pyrotechnics wherever possible.
The blaster/pyrotechnician must be in attendance at all rehearsals and performances
involving pyrotechnics.
All workers should be made aware that pyrotechnics will be used in a production. The
production team, performers and crew should be trained in, understand and follow all
established procedures for the safe use of the pyrotechnic effect.
Develop a comprehensive plan for all pyrotechnic effects that includes the following:
• scale drawing indicating the location of the effect, the safety zones required and
the location and proximity of other workers, the audience, scenery, all exits, etc.
• the nature of the pyrotechnic materials to be used (e.g. height, range, fallout,
duration) and their intended application/purpose
• the sequence of firing
• smoke, heat and ionization detection in the building/theatre
• ventilation requirements for the effect
• emergency evacuation and fire safety plans for the building/theatre
• provision of safe and secure storage of effects
• security
• type and placement of fire extinguishers and hoses—a minimum of two fire extinguishers
with a 3A – 60 B:C rating should be available, as well as a 10 litre pressurized water
extinguisher (note however that not all fires from pyrotechnics can be put out using a fire
extinguisher and local fire code may specify a certain type of extinguisher for the venue)
• fire retardant requirements for drapery, set, prop and costume pieces
Never dismantle smoke or heat sensors, or any other fire or safety equipment, without
approval of the AHJ.
Obtain Material Safety Data Sheets on controlled products you plan to use. In particular
note whether the reactivity section lists any hazardous decomposition products.
The following equipment is recommended when working with pyrotechnics:
• eye protection
• hand protection
• cotton clothing (synthetic fabrics melt and stick to the skin)
• a respirator/face shield (required when handling powders or liquids)
• antistatic workstations/straps
• danger tape and other signage
• fire blanket
Some manufacturers of pyrotechnics have proprietary tools available for use. The
following guidelines are recommended for choosing tools appropriate for pyrotechnic work:
• use non-sparking tools
• use tools/cutters that reduce friction or impact
• when testing electric circuits, use only current limited devices (under 0.025 amperes)
such as blasting galvanometers—never use a multimeter!
Any rehearsals used to test the pyrotechnic effects (including dry runs) should be clearly
marked on the rehearsal schedule and callboard—along with the nature of effects being
tested. Minimize the number of exposures to risk—if the pyrotechnic effect is not
essential for all rehearsals then don’t use it.
Before involving performers and other workers:
• the pyrotechnician should note blocking and emergency evacuation routes for all
pyrotechnic effects in writing and distribute the blocking plan to all departments and
individuals involved
• a dry run of the effect(s) should take place to demonstrate timing, spacing and
safety parameters
• safety equipment and safety precautions such as fire extinguishers, warning and
communication systems should be in place
• the intended actions, possible deviations and the authority to abort should be made
clear (the pyrotechnician must have the final authority on this)
• the dry run should take place in an environment as free of distractions as possible
When explosive materials are brought onsite, the property/building owner, stage
manager and production manager should all be notified. The pyrotechnician should review
the initial hazard assessment at this time.
Signage should be placed at the theatre entrances to warn audience members of the use
of pyrotechnics during a production.
The production team must allow sufficient time for the pyrotechnician to prepare
the explosive materials before each use and perform a final check of wiring, position,
hookups and pyrotechnic devices to ensure that all are in proper working order.
Wireless radio frequency (RF) transmitters—such as cell phones, two-way radios,
etc.—can cause the accidental firing of pyrotechnic devices, a phenomenon caused by
electromagnetic fields. A minimum of 4 meters separation between pyrotechnic wiring
and the transmitters listed above is recommended. Schedule 10 of the OHS Code includes a
table of recommended distances for all types of transmitters, as does the Institute of
Makers of Explosives’ (( publication SLP 20: Safety Guide for the Prevention
of Radio Frequency Radiation Hazards in the Use of Commercial Electric Detonators.
When firing pyrotechnics, the pyrotechnician must have an unimpeded line of sight
to the product so he/she can determine that all personnel and equipment are at a safe
distance and the product can fire safely. Where this is not possible, an assistant, who
is in direct communication with the pyrotechnician and has an unimpeded view of the
effect, must be assigned. The assistant must be familiar with the effect and know the
conditions under which it would need to be aborted.
After the display has been executed, confirm that all effects have successfully fired. If
any explosives have not fired, treat the pyro as live. All unfired effects must be fired or
disposed of in accordance with manufacturers’ specifications. Confirm that there are no
hot spots or fallout that have caused/will cause damage.
Working at Heights—OHS Code, Parts 8, 9, 22 and 23
To fall or not to fall. The question is why would you even risk it? Occupational health and
safety legislation is very clear about fall protection and when and how it must be used.
Craftspeople, technicians, performers and various other theatre workers often need to
work at heights. Working at heights includes work on ladders, pneumatic/electric personnel
lifts, boatswain chairs, scaffolding towers, tall platforms or risers on set, in the grid or
catwalks, fly towers, etc. Major hazards of working at heights include falling and injury to
people below from falling objects.
Some theatres are fortunate enough to have permanent, engineered grids and catwalks
with guardrails. Even when this is the case, however, technicians and craftspeople will need
to use ladders or personnel lifts when installing set pieces, hanging drapery and masking,
hanging and focusing lighting equipment, etc. Fall hazards must be identified for each work
area and task, as well as for each production when design plans are submitted for approval.
Before work begins, every effort must be made to ensure the area below the work area is
clear of people (see Best Practices for Rigging for more information). If possible, the area
should be marked off and signed. Inside the theatre, workers should never be on stage or in
the house if workers are above in the grid or on elevated working platforms. Those working
at heights should empty their pockets and secure all tools to their bodies. They should
also be sure that they are wearing appropriate footwear and clothing, to reduce the risk of
slipping or snagging.
The preferred order for controlling fall hazards is:
1. Elimination of the hazard—no exposed work at height
2. Engineering controls—such as guardrails or other barriers
3. Administrative controls—control zones (on flat surfaces only, such as stage decks)
4. Personal protective equipment:
a. Personal travel restraint system that prevents a worker from reaching an edge from
which he or she could fall
b. Personal fall arrest system that stops a worker’s fall before he or she hits a lower surface
underside of net
orchestra pit safety net
(illustration courtesy of SHAPE)
Safeguards (Openings, Guardrails and Toe Boards)—OHS Code, Part 22
Legislated Requirements
• Openings or holes through which a worker could fall (trap, orchestra pit, etc.) must be
protected by a securely attached cover or guardrails and toe boards. Temporary covers
must be clearly marked/signed indicating the nature of the hazard.
• Guardrails, including temporary guardrails, must be constructed in accordance with the
specific requirements listed in section 315 of the OHS Code.
• Toe boards are required where there is a risk of material falling to the work area below
and must meet the specific requirements listed in section 321 of the OHS Code.
place vertical members at
both ends of guardrails and
at least every 3m (10ft)
Reference: OHS Code, Part 22
Fall Protection—OHS Code, Part 9
Legislated Requirements
toe board
Fall protection is required if:
• a worker may fall 3m (10 ft) or more
• a fall from a lesser height may involve an unusual risk of injury (for example,
onto an uneven set surface, moving scenery or live flame)
guardrails and toe boards
If a fall of 3m (10ft) or more may occur, and workers are not protected by guardrails,
an employer must have a written fall protection plan. This must be in place and
available at the worksite.
Workers must be trained in the fall protection plan and the safe use of the fall protection
system before working in an area where a fall protection system must be used.
Reference: OHS Code, Part 9
A fall protection plan must include:
• the fall hazards at the worksite, including those that may arise during the construction,
assembly, rehearsal, performance, changeover and strike phases of production
• the fall protection system to be used at the worksite
• the procedures used to assemble, maintain, inspect, use and disassemble the fall
protection system
• the rescue procedures to be used if a worker falls or is suspended by a personal fall arrest
system or safety net and needs to be rescued
Fall protection system means one or a combination of the following:
• a travel restraint system
• a personal fall arrest system
• a safety net
• a control zone
• another system approved by a Director of Inspection (Workplace Health and Safety)
travel restraint/fall arrest system
Travel Restraint Systems are the first line of defense when working at heights and should
always be explored before fall arrest. Travel restraint systems prevent a worker from
getting to an edge from which he or she could fall. The components of a travel restraint
system must meet the standards listed in Part 9 of the OHS Code and workers must be
trained in their proper use and maintenance. Components of the system usually include:
lanyard, lifeline or horizontal lifeline with rope grab and connectors (snap-hooks, D-rings,
carabiners, etc.). A full body harness is recommended in all situations.
Personal Fall Arrest Systems do not prevent a worker from falling, but rather catch a
worker in mid-air before he or she hits a lower surface. All components must meet the
requirements listed in Part 9 of the OHS Code and workers must be trained in their proper
use and maintenance. Components of the system usually include: anchorage, full body
harness, lanyard, shock absorber and connectors.
Control Zones may be used on level, elevated work surfaces, such as stage decks, as a fall
protection system if workers will at all times be further than 2 metres from an unguarded
edge. Controls zones must be no less than 2 metres wide when measured from the
unguarded edge and must be clearly marked with an effective raised warning line or other
equally effective method. Marking could include directional light emitting diodes or set
pieces strategically placed to mark the zone.
Ladders—OHS Code, Part 8
Most work performed on ladders in the theatre is considered “temporary, light work”—
which means that formal fall protection measures are not necessary, even when working
at a height above 3m. This includes tasks such as scenic painting, hanging drapery, focusing
lighting fixtures, etc.
There are three types of ladders used in live-performance work:
• portable ladders (straight ladders, extension ladders, A-frame ladders and stepladders)
• wheeled A-frame ladders
• permanent ladders (access ladders and escape ladders)
Legislated Requirements
An employer must ensure that workers do not use ladders to enter or leave an elevated or
sub-level work area if the area has another safe and recognizable way to enter or leave it
(e.g. a staircase or ramp).
A person must not paint a wooden ladder. Paint hides cracks and other damage.
A worker must not perform work from either of the top two rungs, steps or cleats of a
portable ladder unless the manufacturer’s specifications allow the worker to do so.
Constructed and manufactured ladders must meet the appropriate construction and CSA
or ANSI standards listed in the OHS Code.
A worker must ensure that:
secured portable ladders
• portable ladders are secured against movement and placed on a base that is stable
• the base of an inclined portable ladder is no further from the base of the wall or structure
than 1⁄4 of the height to where the ladder contacts the wall or structure
• the side rails of a portable ladder extend at least 1m above a platform or landing if the
ladder is used as a means of access to the platform or landing
An employer must ensure that a worker working from a portable ladder from which the
worker may fall 3m or more uses a personal fall arrest system. If it is not reasonably
practicable to use a personal fall arrest system, a worker may work from a portable ladder
without fall protection if:
• the work is a light duty task of short duration at each location
• the worker’s centre of balance is at the centre of the ladder at all times
• the worker maintains three-point contact with the ladder
Reference: OHS Code, Part 8
Best Practices
Follow manufacturer’s instructions and specifications.
Inspect ladders before each use. Remove damaged ladders from service.
Hand and power tools must be used with utmost caution when working on ladders. Hand
tools should be secured to the worker’s body to prevent them from falling.
Tools must never be left on a ladder or elevated work platform once a worker has
returned to ground level.
Work lights should be on when there is any movement up or down a ladder.
hand tools secured to body
If the work will take longer than 15 minutes, use another method such as a personnel lift.
Do not climb ladders while carrying heavy or bulky objects. Position yourself securely
on the ladder and rope the item up or down, or attach a pulley block to a rated overhead
grid or rigging point and have ground crew raise or lower the object. If you are roping the
item by hand, make sure the ladder is secure enough for you to do so safely (i.e. tie off
the ladder at the top and secure it at the bottom or have ladder assistants foot the ladder).
When necessary, use ladder assistants to:
• foot the ladder
• keep people out of the area
• hook up and raise or lower equipment or materials on a rope
note: The use of ladder assistants does not constitute fall protection.
Prop ladders (or similar climbing structures) that are designed and constructed
specifically as scenic units that will be visible to the audience must be included in a fall
protection plan if they do not meet all legislated requirements. Prop ladders must be
marked “for performance only” and all workers must be informed as such.
Best Practices for Wheeled A-Frame Ladders
secured wheeled A-frame ladder
(illustration courtesy of SHAPE)
Whenever possible, use a personnel lift for working at heights. If a lift is not practicable
for your production or the task at hand, you may use a wheeled A-frame ladder. Wheeled
A-frame ladders are extension trestle ladders mounted on a castered base. Avoid using
casters mounted individually on each leg of the ladder. Instead, secure the ladder to a
wheeled base assembly. Follow these guidelines for wheeled base assemblies:
• use lockable casters
• make sure each caster is rated to support the design working load of the ladder
• attach casters to the base assembly using through-bolts, not screws
• position casters directly under the ladder feet and make sure they are able to rotate
freely without jamming
• make sure the base assembly extends far enough beyond each foot so the casters
can swing freely without jamming against adjacent objects
The safest way to work from a wheeled A-frame ladder is to sit on the top rung. Follow
these guidelines:
• have an assistant present while you get into position
• make sure the casters are locked and the ladder is stable before climbing it
• straddle the top rung of the vertical extension, placing one foot on either side
of the second or third rungs
• keep your centre of gravity close to the ladder’s centre line
• when moving into or out of position, keep both hands free and move carefully
until you are comfortable and stable
You can move a worker on a wheeled A-frame ladder only if you are making small
movements for tasks such as focusing adjacent light fixtures or tying soft goods along
a pipe and are operating on a level surface free of potential hazards. In addition,
you must follow these safety guidelines:
• do not move the worker to another work area or allow the worker to “monkey bar”
their way to a new work area
• use two safety monitors to hold and move the ladder at its base and lock the wheels
when the ladder is close to an edge
• set clear communication protocols between the worker on the ladder and workers
on the ground
• the worker at the top of the ladder should direct all ladder movement
Scaffolds and Temporary Work Platforms (Elevating Platforms/Aerial Devices)—
OHS Code, Part 23
Scaffolds and elevating platforms/aerial devices (bucket lifts, scissor lifts, etc.) are
frequently used in the theatre for a variety of tasks and purposes. Scaffolds are used by
scenic artists to work at heights, by technicians to support truss and lighting equipment in
both indoor and outdoor venues, and by designers as set pieces. Elevating platforms are
often used when hanging and focusing lighting equipment, hanging drapery, rigging, etc.,
and are ideal for many tasks because they have built-in guardrails and leave both hands
free to perform work.
safely roping materials up to
worker—worker is performing
“temporary, light work,” hence a fall
protection system is not required
(illustration courtesy of SHAPE)
Legislated Requirements for Elevating Platforms/Aerial Devices
• Personnel lifts must meet legislated CSA or ANSI standards.
• Only competent, trained workers may operate personnel lifts. Lifts must always be
operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and specifications.
• Workers must not travel in a basket, bucket, platform or other elevated device that is
moving on a worksite if worksite conditions create a danger to the worker.
Reference: OHS Code, Part 23
Best Practices for Elevating Platforms/Aerial Devices
Inspect lifts before each use:
• If you find any defects that may endanger workers, repair the lift immediately
or tag it and remove it from service.
• Keep inspection and maintenance records for all lifts. Some lifts must be certified
annually. Check the equipment decal to ensure the certification has not expired.
Lifts must not be moved while an operator is inside the bucket (e.g. during a focus
session) unless manufactured to do so.
All support braces/outriggers must be in place at all times. Ensure the lift base and
supporting ground are leveled and plumbed. On inclined surfaces, use wheel chocks
and blocking.
Set the braking system before elevating crew members.
Check the work area for potential hazards such as traffic, power sources, openings and
slopes before operating a lift.
Never exceed the manufacturer’s specified load limit.
Do not use ladders or other objects/devices on top of the platform to increase height.
personnel lift
Do not sit or climb on the railings of the basket or platform.
Set clear communication protocols to be used between workers on the platform and
those on the ground. Make sure all workers understand and use them.
Lock out unattended lifts.
Legislated Requirements for Scaffolds
• Scaffolds must meet the CSA standards and all design, load, inspection and tagging
requirements specified in the OHS Code.
• Scaffolds must be erected, used and dismantled by or under the supervision of competent,
trained workers and in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and specifications.
• All workers must be informed of the maximum load a scaffold is permitted to carry.
• Workers must not use scaffolding unless it has been tagged indicating it is safe for use.
• Scaffolds and other metal grids/pipes/structures used to support lighting or power
distribution must be effectively bonded to ground in accordance with the Canadian
Electrical Code.
Reference: OHS Code, Part 23
Best Practices for Scaffolds
Erect scaffolds only on solid footings. If necessary, use screw jacks to level scaffolds.
Secure and rigidly brace the uprights to prevent swaying and movement. If a scaffold is
higher than three times its minimum base dimension, secure the scaffold to the adjacent
structure or use guylines and/or outriggers.
Do not erect scaffolds near power lines or other energized high voltage electrical conductors.
Install required guardrails and toe boards on platforms that are 3 m (10 ft) or higher.
Do not mix and match components. Keep erection drawings on site.
Inspect scaffolds daily before using them and after any modification.
Use a ladder, stairway or other safe means to access the scaffold’s working landings. Do
not climb the outside of scaffold frames between landings.
Do not use ladders or other objects/devices on top of scaffolds to increase height.
Never overload a scaffold with materials or people. Do not exceed the manufacturer’s
load specifications.
Secure and belay equipment when hoisting it up and down. When lifting materials more
than three frames high from the ground, use a well wheel and davit. Secure equipment
on top to the main framework of the scaffold.
Do not remain on a rolling scaffold while others are moving it if the scaffold is higher
than twice its minimum base dimension.
Do not remain on a rolling scaffold if you are moving it and the platform is higher than
one and a half times the scaffold’s minimum base dimension.
Do not work on a draped scaffold in outdoor conditions unless a professional engineer
has determined that it is safe to do so in those conditions at that particular venue.
Objects mounted on scaffolds can disrupt the scaffold’s weight balance, making it
unstable. Use counterweights or bracing if necessary.
Scaffolds (or similar climbing structures) that are designed and constructed specifically
as scenic units that will be visible to the audience must be included in a fall protection
plan if they do not meet all legislated requirements. The scaffold must be marked “for
performance only” and all workers must be informed as such.
scaffold in performance
Rigging—OHS Code, Part 21
Rigging is a practice as old as theatre itself—borrowed from Greek sailors, it was first
used in the plays of Aeschylus, Euripides and Aristophanes. Rigging generally refers to
anything that is used for attaching, supporting or flying stage effects. Today, theatrical
rigging has grown to include complex and sophisticated flying systems with computer
controlled automation and performers that soar effortlessly through the air. Rigging
legislation applies to all types of rigging—it is not by any means theatre specific. Anyone
who is responsible for any type of theatrical rigging must understand the OHS Code
requirements before proceeding with any rigging work.
Rigging is one of the most dangerous fields in the entertainment industry. Flown scenery
and performers—whether hoisted using automatic machinery or manual rigging—present
hazards for:
• the rigger (musculoskeletal and other bodily injuries)
• the performer (fall injuries)
• any performers or crew onstage below (being crushed by falling scenery)
• the audience (being crushed by a performer, a set piece, etc.)
• other set pieces, furniture, stage floors and the rigging equipment itself
Best Practices
As far as it is reasonably practicable, suspended loads must not be passed over workers
(see section 69 of the OHS Code Part 6—loads over work areas—for more information).
Workers must be effectively warned of the dangers arising from loads, such as flown
scenery, suspended or moved above them. Riggers/operators must be aware if and when
workers are underneath loads.
Only properly trained and competent persons may be involved with the operation,
testing and routine maintenance of rigging equipment and systems. All riggers must be
deemed competent by their employer and to the satisfaction of the producing company
and the venue. Riggers must be knowledgeable in safe operation and maintenance of the
equipment and its safety devices, safe working loads, hazards during proper and improper
operation and emergency procedures.
The operation of all rigging equipment and systems, including chain hoists, trusses, etc.,
must meet with manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations.
Theatrical rigging systems should use “single-failure proof” designs—if one component of
the system fails, it will not result in failure of the system.
The safe working load (SWL) of a rigging system must never be exceeded.
A single line set should not exceed a balanced load by more than 40-50 lbs.
All rigging equipment and systems, including brakes and harnesses, must be inspected
according to the manufacturer’s specifications and removed from service based on the
manufacturer’s rejection criteria.
The system designer and user must be satisfied that all connectors are capable of
safely carrying the required loads and that any quick release system has a satisfactory,
positive safety lock.
The loading and unloading of counterweights should be done by two people.
Chains or ropes must never be shortened by knotting.
Packing must be used between slings and sharp edges.
Steel slings should be used as a secondary for fiber slings if there is a risk of fire.
Damaged or defective slings and ropes must be marked and removed from service.
Pulleys, blocks, sheaves and drums must be designed in such a fashion as to prevent the
rope from coming out of the groove and becoming jammed between the sheave/drum and
side plate of the pulley or block. Installation and use of these items must take into account
recommended fleet angles when the flying wires are subject to swing during operation.
After installation, it is recommended that the entire system be proof tested to 1.5 times
the designed SWL.
Riggers must maintain control and visual contact with a moving piece at all times.
Flown props and scenery that are used to fly a performer must be designed and
manufactured by a qualified person. Initial operation must include a training process
by the qualified person for both operators and performers.
Any rehearsals in which flown props and scenery—or performers—is attempted must
be clearly noted on the rehearsal schedule and callboard.
Consideration of lighting, set or sound changes should be communicated to both riggers
and aerial performers.
Best Practices for Flying Performers
The design and installation of rigging systems for flying performers is a highly
specialized area of rigging and should only be undertaken by experts in the field.
Chain motors should not be used outside of manufacturer’s specifications to fly performers.
When flying performers, the SWL represents an active, dynamic load—not a static load.
The operation of an unbalanced counterweight system may be required during the flying
of performers. The system must always be operated within the manufacturer’s guidelines
and within the operator’s ability to hold the out-of-balance load safely.
All components of rigging used to suspend performers must have a minimum designed
safety factor of 10:1.
If cable or wire rope tracks are used for the transverse movement of a flying performer,
they must be designed and rated specifically for the flying of performers and have
a minimum designed safety factor of 10:1. This includes all load trolleys.
Wire ropes to be used for flying wires should be sized depending on the weight to be
lifted, the flying choreography (pendulums, somersaults, etc.), the number of wire ropes
supporting the performer, the rigging method, the inspection schedule and other relevant
factors—including the termination of the wire rope. Wire ropes must be labeled with the SWL.
Where two or more flying wires are supporting the performer at all times, each wire rope
must have a minimum designed safety factor of 5:1.
Any performer being hoisted in the air must be wearing an appropriate harness according
to manufacturer’s specifications.
The harness is part of the rigging—not
not part of the costume. Any costume elements worn
over the harness must not impair the vision, mobility and/or safety of the performer.
body harness for fall protection
No part of the costume can be attached to the harness.
No part of the harness can be cleaned, dyed, painted or marked with a substance that may
degrade the strength and/or integrity of the harness materials.
Performers on flying props must be secured to the prop by cables and harnesses.
The use of crash mats and safety netting should also be considered depending on the
nature of the stunt/choreography.
All aerial choreography should be rehearsed with the equipment as many times as
necessary to render the flying effect reasonably safe.
Rescue plans and procedures, i.e. how to rescue a suspended performer, should be
developed specifically for the rigging system in use.
Tools, Equipment and Machinery—OHS Code, Part 25
Tools are used in all theatre departments, from industrial sergers and grommet machines
in the wardrobe department to lathes in the props shop to various hand and power tools in
the scene shop. Theatre technicians and craftspeople are notorious for their “creative” use
of tools—and while there’s always room for creativity, tools must be treated with respect.
Best Practices
Large pieces of Styrofoam needed
to be carved for a production,
and the scene shop was the only
available and large enough space.
A containment area was set up
using plastic sheeting wrapped and
stapled around jacks to keep the
majority of the styro beads and
dust contained in a single area,
away from spark creating tools
and welding equipment. Nightly
cleanup with spray bottles of water
with a small amount of liquid fabric
softener added helped to keep static
to a minimum.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and specifications, particularly regarding
personal protective equipment required and/or suggested to operate the tool/equipment.
Tools should not be used beyond their design capacity.
Always select the proper tool for the job. Cutting discs must not be used for grinding or
vice versa. Consider the use of alternative tools before committing to the use of explosive
or compressed air tools.
Maintain all tools in safe working order. Cutting tools should be maintained in a sharp
condition and protected when not in use.
Only trained and competent workers should operate tools (especially explosive
powered tools).
Always check for defects before using a tool. If a tool is defective in any way, do not use it.
The defective tool must be locked out/disabled and tagged for repair.
Ensure tools are clean. Greasy, wet, slippery or dirty tools must be cleaned before use.
Manufacturer’s specifications and instructions for all tools and equipment must be readily
available to workers and should be kept well organized. Require workers to refer to this
information before using the tool or equipment.
Do not wear loose clothing or cuffs when working with tools. Neck chains are hazardous
and should be worn under clothing. Rings are not recommended. Long hair should be tied
back or otherwise confined. Hands must be kept free of oil and grease.
Mark necessary safety zones around equipment and tools. Secure the work area with
barricades and signs if necessary.
Do not hold work pieces with your hands where there is a danger of the piece moving or
slipping. Secure the piece with clamps or similar devices.
All tools and equipment with moving parts must have proper guards with which they were
manufactured and guards must be functioning properly.
Explosive powered tools should be stored in locked boxes when not in use and
explosive charges should be stored separately.
At no time should discharge of compressed air come into contact with any part of the
human body. Workers should not use compressed air to clean dust off of their clothing
or bodies at the end of a shift.
work piece secured with clamp to table
Tools must be stored appropriately when not in use.
Do not distract people who are working with tools and machinery.
Turn off and lock out tools and equipment, even when not in use for only a few minutes.
Managing the Control of Hazardous Energy (Locking Out)—
OHS Code, Part 15
Managing the control of hazardous energy, or “locking out,” is a way of protecting
workers from injuries and/or electrocution. Locking out prevents an energy-isolating
device such as a valve or circuit breaker from being accidentally or inadvertently
operated while a worker is working on or inside machinery or equipment. In theatres,
workers follow lock out procedures when doing such things as installing dimmers or
making repairs to automated scenery.
Locking out is most commonly achieved by:
• securing a personal lock to an energy-isolating device, or
• rendering the machine or equipment inoperative by removing key parts (e.g.
mechanical linkages, fuses, etc.) or blocking parts from moving (e.g. physically
preventing the movement of rotating or moving parts)
lock out
Legislated Requirements
If equipment is to be serviced, repaired, tested, adjusted or inspected, an employer must
ensure that no worker performs work on the equipment until it has come to a complete
stop and:
• all hazardous energy is isolated by activation of a secured energy-isolating device, or
• the equipment is otherwise rendered inoperative in a manner that prevents its
accidental reactivation
A worker must not service, repair, test, adjust or inspect equipment until they have
tested the equipment to make sure that it is inoperative.
A person must not remove a lock or other securing device from a piece of equipment
unless they are the person who installed it. In emergency situations, an employer can
designate a worker to remove a lock or other securing device once it has been verified
that no worker will be in danger due to the removal.
Reference: OHS Code, Part 15
Best Practices
Ensure all connecting energy sources are shut off and all stored energy is released
before installing, maintaining or repairing machinery and equipment. Energy sources
can be mechanical, hydraulic (fluids), electrical, pneumatic (air), gravitational, stored
(spring) or radiant, and more than one energy source is often involved.
Lock out equipment that has been identified as unsafe for use until replacement or
repair is complete.
Powered Mobile Equipment (Vehicles)—OHS Code, Part 19
Theatre workers drive sets cross-country in large trucks, move heavy materials with
forklifts, pick up and return audio and lighting gear from suppliers and go on tour in rented
mini-vans to high schools and communities across the province.
Best Practices
Maintain all vehicles in safe working order according to manufacturer’s preventive
maintenance schedules.
Have regular vehicle inspections performed and documented by licensed automotive
dealerships or recognized service facilities.
Vehicles should be equipped with reflective warning triangles, first aid kit, cell phone,
report forms for accidents, local maps, flashlight, blanket, ABC fire extinguisher, trunk
tie down, windshield washer fluid and ice scraper/snow brush.
Obtain copies of valid drivers’ licenses and driving abstracts from all workers who are
required and insured to drive company vehicles or transport other workers.
Drivers for extended runs such as school tours should take a safe drivers’ refresher course.
Drivers should perform a visual pre-start inspection of the vehicle prior to each use.
Pre-start inspections should include the following checks:
• tire inflation, including spare
• wheel bolts
• fluids: oil, coolant, power steering, brake and wiper (check for levels and leaks)
• lights: headlights, brake lights, signals and four-way flashers
• brakes, including parking brake
• belts and hoses
• oil pressure
• doors, windows and mirrors
• gas cap secure
• wipers and sprayer
• horn
• seatbelts
• steering
• shocks
• engine
• idle speed
• license plates and insurance papers
Workers should immediately report and document any damage, problems or concerns
regarding a vehicle to their employer.
Drivers should be responsible for adhering to all traffic laws, including ensuring seatbelts
are worn by all passengers.
Vehicles should be shut off during loading and unloading. Properly restrain loads that
could shift during transport.
Follow regulations outlined in Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act if transporting
and/or shipping flammable, radioactive, chemically or biologically toxic materials.
Only competent and trained workers should operate forklifts. Employers should inspect
and evaluate workers’ performance in this regard.
Lifting and Handling Loads (Manual Materials Handling)—
OHS Code, Part 14
From road crates to pails of paint, lighting equipment to rigging counterweights, fiberglass
set pieces to drapery, heavy lifting is a necessary part of work in the theatre industry. For
craftspeople, crew and performers, back injuries can be career-ending afflictions, and
without proper care and knowledge, any lift could be your last.
The lifting and handling of loads, also known as manual handling or manual materials
handling, includes lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, holding, dragging and
supporting objects. The injuries caused by such work are referred to as musculoskeletal
injuries (MSI). These are injuries of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and
other soft tissues.
Best Practices
Reduce or eliminate heavy and repetitive lifting wherever possible.
Use lifting equipment such as carts, dollies, scissor lifts, pallet jacks, forklifts, etc.
Use mobile racks to avoid unnecessary loading and unloading.
Modify the work process and workstation to reduce bending, twisting, reaching, heavy
lifting, excessive forces and highly repetitive motions.
Pushing and pulling is preferable to lifting and lowering. Pushing is generally preferred
to pulling as the worker is able to use their body weight to apply force to the load.
Train workers in proper lifting techniques and general back care/health.
If materials must be manually handled, two person lifts are preferred.
Provide handholds, cutouts, or grips so the load can be held as close to the body
as possible. Change the shape of the object so that it can be held closer to the body.
tool cart
Avoid rotating or twisting movements when lifting or lowering a load.
Repetitive Strain Injuries
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI), injuries caused by overusing the musculoskeletal system
through repeated movements, are an increasing concern in many workplaces and industries.
RSIs can result from a number of different work conditions, including inadequate rest
breaks, lack of job variation, fatigue, psychological pressures, poor workstation design,
improper use of tools and equipment, returning too quickly to repetitive work after
extended holidays or illness and increases in workload and/or hours. In the theatre,
administrators, stage managers, designers and board operators who spend long hours at
computerized workstations are at risk, as well as craftspeople who stand, sew, paint, build,
etc. for extended periods of time.
Symptoms of an RSI include dull aches or numbness (which may worsen at night), tingling/
burning sensations, swelling (including cyst-like swellings), dry palms, clumsiness, muscle
weakness, muscle spasms, restricted joint movement or cracking. In the early stages of an
RSI, the worker may experience aches or fatigue when performing his/her work, but the injury
does not interfere with the worker’s ability to do the work, and symptoms disappear when the
work is finished. An RSI can heal completely if treated in its early or intermediate stages.
Best Practices
Employers should assess all tasks performed by workers for RSI hazards, and modify
work environments and conditions to eliminate and/or control identified hazards.
electric scissors designed to
reduce RSI hazard
Good job design—fitting tasks to the physical and mental needs of workers—can limit
worker exposure to RSI hazards. Elements of job design include:
• task variety
• work pace
• work breaks (time between tasks that allow for changes in position)
• rest breaks (time when workers stop working and leave their workstation)
• adjustment periods (returning to work after extended absence/illness)
• training and education of current and new workers
Workers should avoid remaining in one position for long periods of time. Alternate
between sitting, standing and walking if possible.
Workers should adjust chairs, computer equipment and work surfaces to ensure they are
working in an ergonomically correct position.
Accessories such as document holders, footrests, telephone headsets and anti-fatigue
floor mats/duck boards should be provided for and used by workers when necessary.
Noise in the Workplace—OHS Code, Part 16
Common sources of hazardous noise in the theatre industry include sound cues and special
effects, pyrotechnics, gunshots, live music, feedback, shop noise/tool noise, etc. Everyone in
the industry, from sound designers and audio technicians to performers/musicians, crew and
carpenters, needs to be aware of the dangers of excessive noise and know how to protect
themselves from hearing damage. Hearing damage is both cumulative and permanent, and
its effects often go unnoticed until loss of hearing occurs in the speech range.
hearing protection
Legislated Requirements
• Employers must ensure that workers are not exposed to noise levels that exceed
the occupational exposure limit (OEL) of 85 dBA Lex.
• If workers are exposed to noise environments that exceed the OEL, the employer must
develop and implement a noise management program that measures and monitors sound
levels in the workplace and educates workers.
• Use appropriate equipment for measuring sound levels as required by Part 16
of the OHS Code.
The Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) defines a worker’s maximum permitted daily exposure
to noise without hearing protection. The OEL takes into consideration the loudness of the noise—
measured in decibels (dBA)—and the duration of exposure to that noise—measured in hours
per day. Lex refers to the worker’s level of total exposure to noise in dBA, averaged over the
entire work day and adjusted to an equivalent 8-hour exposure.
Reference: OHS Code, Part 16
Schedule 3, Table 1 of the OHS Code: Occupational exposure limits for noise
Exposure level (dBA)
Exposure duration
16 hours
12 hours and 41 minutes
10 hours and 4 minutes
8 hours
4 hours
2 hours
1 hour
30 minutes
15 minutes
8 minutes
4 minutes
2 minutes
56 seconds
115 and greater
Note: Exposure levels and exposure durations to be prorated if not specified.
Reference: OHS Code, Schedule 3
Best Practices
Measure and monitor noise levels in all work areas and estimate duration
of worker exposure.
Noise assessments need to be done (or repeated) at the following times:
• when new noise-generating equipment or work processes are introduced
• if old equipment seems to get louder over time
• when work practices and/or work procedures change
• if workers complain of ringing in the ears, temporary changes in hearing or increased
levels of noise in their work area
• if two people have difficulty communicating or have to significantly raise their voices
when standing 2m apart in order to be heard over background noise
• as part of production planning and design, and during the production process,
especially if a special sound or pyrotechnic effect is added
• in workplaces where noise management programs are in place, the program should
be formally assessed annually
Whenever practicable, worker exposure to noise levels over 85 dBA should be eliminated.
Reduce noise by replacing or servicing noisy equipment, modifying work procedures,
establishing control zones, dampening and/or baffling.
Limit worker exposure to noise. Ensure workers exposed to noise have frequent,
quiet breaks.
Particularly loud sound cues and pyrotechnic effects should be carefully considered. If
such effects are approved, they should be integrated slowly into the rehearsal process
and performers and running crew at risk of exposure should be provided with proper
hearing protection.
Similar to the practice of calling “going to black” before a blackout, workers should
be audibly warned prior to impending noise.
Reduce surface/floor contact of speakers and monitors. This will decrease low-end
frequencies, so the overall sound level will not need to be as high.
Workers should not be exposed to the backs of open speaker enclosures.
Monitor background music—it should not impede communication or delay progress,
provide a distraction or combine with any other noise to create hazardous noise levels.
Conduct audiometric tests for workers—workers’ hearing needs to be tested to
determine the extent of any existing hearing loss and to monitor for ongoing changes
in hearing ability. A certified audiometric technician must perform the tests. Results
from all worker hearing tests should be documented and kept in a confidential file.
Be aware of ear fatigue. Concentrated listening can be as physically demanding as
manual labour, and after many hours, ears and mental capacity (concentration and
judgment) can become as tired and strained as any muscle. When/if ear fatigue sets
in, the best response is to stop or take a long break.
Educate and train workers regarding hearing damage and loss.
Firearms Business
and Acquisition
Licence (PAL) valid
for non-restricted
Firearms Business
PAL valid for
restricted firearms
Firearms Business
Licence allowing
possession of
prohibited firearms
for an approved
purpose (e.g. stage
or film production)
PAL valid for
restricted firearms
(workers would
not be eligible for a
PAL for prohibited
firearms, but would
be allowed to handle
prohibited firearms
for lawful employment
Weapons other
than Firearms
(e.g. some
martial arts
Same as above
No, but must be
eligible – i.e. no court
orders prohibiting
the worker from
possessing weapons;
no significant public
safety concerns, such
as recent criminal
offences or serious
mental health or
substance abuse
No, but the business
may be required
to keep records
as a condition of
their licence
Devices, such
as replicas
Same as above;
some exceptions
apply for replicas
under Special
Authority to Possess
Regulations if the
company only
borrows the replicas
Same as above if the
company owns the
Same as above
For more information, visit the Canada Firearms Centre at
Requirements Under the Firearms Act for Stage Productions
Chapter Three
In This Chapter
• Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)—OHS Code Part 29
• Open Flame
• Atmospherics (Smoke and Fog)
Appendix Items
• Drapery Test Form—
courtesy of the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts
Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)—
OHS Code, Part 29
The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is a comprehensive
national program that provides information on the safe use of hazardous materials
(“controlled products”) in Canadian workplaces. The information is provided by means of:
1. Product labels (supplier and/or workplace labels)
2. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)
3. Worker education programs
Controlled product is the name given to products, materials and substances that are
regulated by WHMIS legislation. The WHMIS classification system groups products with similar
properties or hazards. All controlled products fall into one or more of six WHMIS classes:
Compressed Gas
Flammable and Combustible Material
Oxidizing Material
Poisonous and Infectious Material
Corrosive Material
Dangerously Reactive Material
Controlled and/or hazardous products are commonly found and used in many areas of
theatre. Some examples include:
• maintenance – cleaners, asbestos
• props – paints, resins, adhesives, fiberglass, lubricants, barge, vacuform, two-part foams
• scenic art – paints, lacquers, stains, solvents
• scenic construction – adhesives, welding gases, dusts from lumber (can be carcinogenic
or contain arsenic, styrene or formaldehyde)
• stage crew – atmospherics (fog, smoke products), compressed air, solder
• wardrobe – dyes, shoe sprays and polish, adhesives, laundry products, dry cleaning
fluids, pigments, glues, bleach, aerosol hairsprays, self-tanners
Every product and material controlled by WHMIS must be accompanied by its own
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). MSDSs must not be more than three years old.
The MSDS must include:
• the potential health effects of exposure to the product
• how to work safely with the product
• hazard evaluations on the use, storage and handling of the product
• personal protective equipment needed
• emergency procedures related to the product
WHMIS symbols
Legislated Requirements
Suppliers (those who sell or import products) must:
• Label the product or container.
• Provide MSDS to customers.
Employers must:
• Establish education and training programs for workers exposed to hazardous
products in the workplace. WHMIS training is available through many different
organizations or training can be conducted at the workplace, either with a printed
package or using computer-based training programs.
• Ensure products are labeled.
• Ensure a current MSDS for each product is readily available to workers.
• Post WHMIS and MSDS information in a visible area at the worksite and make copies
available to any worker who requests them.
• Familiarize themselves with all known biological and chemical hazards associated
with a given product—including its potential reactive capabilities when combined with
or stored near other products—as well as that product’s individual ingredients.
Workers must:
product with WHMIS label
• Participate in training.
• Apply safety practices they have learned when working with hazardous materials.
• Inform employer of missing labels.
Reference: OHS Code, Part 29
The Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL) for hazardous substances are listed in the OHS Code
and are based on the duration of exposure as well as the concentration of the contaminant.
These OEL apply to both workers directly involved with tasks using hazardous substances
and workers who may be exposed to the substances indirectly from these operations. OEL
represent standards to protect the healthiest workers over an eight-hour workday, in a
40-hour week.
Best Practices for Purchasing Controlled Products
When purchasing products, consideration must first be given to less hazardous or nontoxic alternatives. Substitution is usually more cost effective than engineering controls.
Ensure all controlled products are labeled and accompanied by an MSDS at the time
of purchase.
All original MSDSs should be inventoried and kept in a central library, with notes
indicating which department will be using and storing the product. Production managers
are good candidates for this responsibility.
Copies of MSDSs should go with the product to the department or worker who will
be using and storing the product.
It is important to keep an up-to-date library and inventory of all controlled products.
Ensure that products are approved by municipal wastewater and other bylaws.
MSDS information for many products used in the wardrobe, scenic art and props
departments, as well as for products used to create smoke and fog effects, is protected
through trademarks or copyrights. Manufacturers only have to supply the names of
hazardous chemical ingredients as deemed by the government; they are not required
to declare the complete ingredients list. Whenever practicable, use products that are
accompanied by complete MSDS information.
Best Practices for Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) Libraries
WHMIS requires that all MSDSs be no more than three years old.
Expired MSDSs should be reported immediately to the person responsible for the library.
The master MSDS library should be kept in the office of the production manager or the
person who is responsible for ensuring that the library is kept up-to-date.
Complete MSDS libraries should be available in all locations where controlled product
is used and stored. Suggested locations include scenery shops, props shops, wardrobe
shops, technical directors’ offices, etc.
Best Practices for WHMIS Training
All workers, including volunteers, who work with or in proximity to hazardous materials
should receive WHMIS training. Depending on the size and structure of your theatre
company, you can set up WHMIS training onsite for workers or require workers to seek
training themselves and provide proof of completion.
Do not allow workers to use any hazardous materials unless WHMIS training has been
completed and the worker is fully knowledgeable about a product’s potential hazards,
safe handling requirements, first aid requirements, personal protective equipment
requirements, proper disposal and spill handling techniques as outlined in its MSDS.
Offer and review training annually. Keep written records of training on file.
Best Practices for Use and Storage of Controlled Product
Store all controlled product according to manufacturer’s specifications. Use fire cabinets
where appropriate and necessary.
Make sure that all product containers have either a supplier label or workplace label.
Always make sure to add a workplace label to a container:
• when transferring product from one container to another, if someone will be using
the product other than the person who transferred the product
• when adding controlled products to other products (e.g. when adding
colourants, metallic pigments, solvents or drywall fillers to latex paint)
Never smell a container to determine its contents.
Remove all potential sources of ignition before starting work with controlled substances
that pose a fire or explosion risk. This includes naked flame, cutting and welding torches,
gas fired heaters, portable lamps and any material that may give off sparks—whether
electrical, mechanical, friction or static. Post “No Smoking” and “No Welding” signs.
Make sure approved respirators, eye protection and any other protective equipment
required for the job are worn.
Use good hygiene practices:
• workers should not eat, drink or smoke where work is taking place
• workers should wash hands and face thoroughly before eating, drinking or smoking
• clean up spills promptly and properly
• clean clothing, brushes, etc. thoroughly
• ensure materials are disposed of properly
Ensure unprotected workers and visitors do not enter work areas where controlled
product is used.
Subcontract dyeing work if you do not have the appropriate facilities.
Rotate workers through jobs to decrease exposure to controlled products.
Give workers with high exposure times to controlled products extra breaks.
Best Practices for Painting
wear an approved respirator
when spray painting
(illustration courtesy of SHAPE)
Painters need to be particularly aware of the hazards of working with:
• silica—found in concrete and fillers/stuccos
• chromium—a metal found in pigments
• lead—a metal found in pigments and old paints
• propylene glycol—common solvent found in most paints, especially
water-based paints
• iron oxide—found in pigments/paints
• isocyanates—aerosols and vapours from polyurethane paints and varnishes;
two-part foams; found in some adhesives
• solvents—the most common hazardous product used in painting; found in paints,
inks, varnishes, shellacs, lacquers, waxes and fixatives and may be used to thin and
clean up materials; includes turpentine, paint thinner, mineral spirits, methyl alcohol,
ethyl alcohol, acetone, toluene, xylene, ethyl and other acetates and petroleum
\ distillates, as well as benzene and styrene
Ventilation systems should be implemented in any area where paints are used or stored.
Ventilation systems include both local exhaust ventilation (spray booths, fume hoods,
etc.) and dilution ventilation (fans).
Check ventilation systems to make sure they are on and working correctly before painting.
All spray operations must be done in an enclosure, spray booth or outdoors. Post
signage nearby to warn others.
For spray booths:
• ensure the amount of ventilation required is properly assessed
• ensure the ventilation systems installed are properly designed and maintained
• train workers to properly operate and maintain installed ventilation systems
• provide appropriate personal protective equipment, including respirators
Electrically ground all spraying equipment.
Do not use conventional sprayers for small jobs.
Roll paint when possible.
Use rollers with long handles to increase distance from products.
Use dilution ventilation (fans) for large sets that cannot be painted in spray booths.
For respirators:
• determine oxygen concentration in the air
• determine the physical form of the contaminant
• determine the Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) for the contaminant and its
concentration in the air
• consider the length of time the respirator will be needed
• know the toxic properties of the contaminant
• train workers in how to detect the contaminant
• address the need for emergency escape
• proper respiratory protection equipment fit testing is essential
A set design included several tall set
pieces and backdrops that needed to
be treated with paint.
The scenic carpenters and scenic
artists developed a plan together
before construction began that
allowed the set and backdrops
to be built in smaller pieces and
assembled after painting, so that
the painters did not have to work
from ladders, scaffolds, etc.
Open Flame
Best Practices
Always consider alternatives to open flame wherever possible.
In accordance with Section 2.4.3 (Open Flames) of the Alberta Fire Code, the fire authority
having jurisdiction (AHJ) must approve all use of open flame on stage. This includes the
use of candles and cigarette smoking. The AHJ can insist that an officer, such as a Fire
Marshall, be present during any use of open flame in rehearsal or performance.
If the use of open flame on stage is approved by the AHJ, designate a competent and
trained worker to watch the flame and ensure due diligence with respect to fire
extinguishers, workers with fire extinguisher training and emergency evacuation procedures.
Open flame must only be incorporated into a production under strictly controlled conditions.
If a production uses open flame, all costumes, wigs, props, set pieces and drapery near
the flame should be made of flame-resistant materials or treated with flame-retardant.
Section 2.3.2 (Flame Resistance) of the Alberta Fire Code requires that drapery, curtains and
other decorative materials used in theatres meet specific flame-resistant requirements.
Flammable and combustible materials must be properly stored and marked, and kept at
a safe distance from open flame.
See Part One: Health and Safety in the Theatre, Chapter Seven: Emergency Response
Planning for more information.
Atmospherics (Smoke and Fog)
Atmospherics refers to anything that falls or rises through the air—fog, haze, smoke,
bubbles, simulated snow, etc. Theatrical smoke is produced by burning or fuming a
material, and is composed of solid particles. Theatrical fog is produced by heating or
cooling a chemical, and is composed of liquid droplets. The use of theatrical fogs is
generally preferred to smokes. There are a wide variety of commercial (and homemade)
products and machines used to create these effects, with varying degrees of hazards.
peasouper—common fog
production equipment
Common Types of Theatrical Fog and Smoke Products
• dry ice—generally considered the safest method of producing theatrical fog
• glycol-based products—mixtures of water and polyfunctional alcohols; propylene glycol
and butylene glycol are the least hazardous of these products available
• oil- or petroleum-based products
• chlorides—ammonium chloride (Sal Ammoniac Powder) and zinc chloride (used in
smoke cookies, smoke pots, smoke candles, smoke bombs, etc.); only ammonium
chloride is recommended
• organic materials—frankincense, paper, rosin, charcoal, tobacco, rubber, etc. (these
smokes are irritating and generate carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other toxic
gases, vapours and/or fumes)
• A/B (Acid and Base) Smoke—highly irritating and toxic; potential fire hazard; use
is not recommended
Best Practices
Carefully research available/appropriate atmospheric products and production methods
in consideration of the effect you want to achieve. Consider factors such as number of
workers/patrons who will be exposed to the effect, length of exposure time, the venue
airflow patterns, available storage facilities, skill of technicians who will operate the
effect, etc. Select the least hazardous product with the simplest and most consistent
method of production.
Determine if the effect requires approval from the AHJ.
All fogs and smokes are easily inhaled and can cause irritation to people with
respiratory sensitivities. Additionally, some products/chemicals used to generate fogs
and smokes are toxic and should only be handled by competent, trained workers.
Only use fog and smoke products accompanied by MSDSs that meet all WHMIS
requirements. MSDSs should clearly identify the chemical ingredients present as well
as their potential hazards and necessary precautionary measures.
• Ensure inhalation hazards, not just ingestion hazards, are listed.
• Be aware of long-term exposure hazards to products/chemicals. Many products have
been tested for acute, short-term toxicity only.
All workers should be informed in advance of the intention to use fog or smoke materials
in a production and the type to be used. MSDSs must be made available and posted on
the callboard. Workers must be given instruction/training in the safe handling and use
of the products.
Only obtain and use commercially manufactured fog and smoke products and
equipment, and always use, store and maintain these items in strict accordance with
manufacturer’s specifications.
Do not alter fog and smoke products in any way, for example by adding dyes, fragrances
or additional chemicals. Coloured fog can be achieved using coloured light.
Care must be taken to avoid contamination of fog and smoke products, particularly from
improperly cleaned and/or maintained storage containers or production equipment.
Design an effect that would create a
puff of dust when a stick was banged
on the ground.
Many experiments were done
with various substances. While
fireplace ash was the director’s
favourite, research indicated that
ash is caustic, so a mixture of carob
and kelp (both food products) was
settled on.
Ensure a rigorous maintenance and cleaning schedule of fog and smoke production equipment.
Use the minimum concentration of product for the minimum period of time necessary
for the effect.
Know the occupational exposure limit (OEL) of the product being used.
Carefully monitor and control exposure levels. All efforts and controls used to ensure
a low exposure environment/atmosphere should be documented.
• Depending on the product and production method in use, appropriate means for
monitoring exposure levels may include: calculating time-weighted average exposure
levels; determining peak exposures by means of time/distance aerosol concentration
tables; a combination of peak and time-weighted average exposure levels; or
contracting a Certified Industrial Hygienist to conduct atmospheric sampling and testing.
When using a product that may cause an oxygen-enriched or -deficient atmosphere to
develop, measures must be in place to monitor the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere
and to take immediate corrective actions if necessary.
Fog and smoke machines/equipment should be placed where operators can access them
at all times, and where they will not create additional hazards, such as fire hazards.
Operators must be acutely aware of and carefully monitor airflow patterns in the venue
and minimize the movement of fog or smoke where it is not needed. Particular attention
should be paid to ensuring exits, warning signs and hazards are not obstructed by fog or
smoke, and that accidental activation of the venue’s fire alarm system does not occur.
Operators should ensure measures are in place for exhausting fog and smoke from the
stage, backstage and house after the effect. Always exhaust away from the audience and
the orchestra pit.
Respirators with appropriate filter cartridges should be available for any worker who
needs or requests one.
Special consideration should be given in situations where productions involve strenuous
physical activity and singing, as well as live musicians, as deep breathing increases
inhalation hazards. In addition, children, the elderly, people with respiratory problems
such as asthma, pregnant women and people with serious illnesses are at increased risk
of complications caused by atmospheric products.
Post warning signs at audience entry points to the theatre. The Entertainment Services
and Technology Association’s American National Standard E1.14—Entertainment
Technology Recommendations for Inclusions in Fog Equipment Manuals—recommends
the following: “This production includes an AEROSOL SIMULATED FOG EFFECT. This fog
is intended for public performance, but persons who are asthmatic or who suffer from
allergies should identify themselves to house personnel so that they may be seated
where there is the least possibility of discomfort.”
Individuals who experience adverse reactions to fog and smoke exposure should be
immediately removed to a well-ventilated area and the designated first aid provider
should be notified.
Many products condense and create slippery conditions on the stage floor and other
objects. Ensure performers and crew have appropriate footwear and use extreme
caution in these situations.
For additional information, consult:
• National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 160: Standard for the Use of Flame Effects
Before an Audience—2006 Edition
• American National Standard E1.5 – 2003: Entertainment Technology Theatrical Fog Made
With Aqueous Solutions of Di- and Trihydric Alcohols and
• American National Standard E1.14 – 2001: Entertainment Technology Recommendations
for Inclusions in Fog Equipment Manuals and
• American National Standard E1.23 – 2006: Entertainment Technology Design and
Execution of Theatrical Fog Effects and
• Introduction to Modern Atmospheric Effects, 4th Edition. Entertainment Services and
Technology Association. 2005.
• Atmospheric Effects in the Entertainment Industry: Constituents, Exposures and Health
Effects. UBC School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. March 2003.
This document is intended to provide proof that annual testing of stage drapery has been
completed as per of the Alberta Fire Code.
Fireproofing applied to stage drapery has a life span determined by many factors: initial
chemical and application process, cleanliness of the soft goods, humidity, storage, etc.
Some fireproofing is still viable after 25 years, most is not. To determine fireproofing
viability, some jurisdictions (mostly in the US) require an annual inspection by an outside
agent. Rather than utilizing an outside agent we will follow testing procedures and
guidelines set by the National Fire Protection Association to create a set of best practices
for demonstration to local authorities and to our insurers of our compliance.
The Procedure
Initially, to create a starting point for the log book, all of the drapes will be tested. In the
log book will be the date of purchase of the goods and the initial certificate of fireproofing.
This will be the start of the history for each piece. After initial testing, we will subsequently
do annual testing of two items as outlined below.
During the pre-season annual maintenance period, two pieces of fabric (one from a border
and one from a leg) will be tested as per the test procedure outlined below. If either test
fails then all of the soft goods in the theatre must be tested. Any drapes that have failed
will be removed from service until refireproofed and retested. If all tests pass, the individual
conducting the test will sign off on the testing form and forward a copy, along with the
samples tested, to the production manager.
The Test
The purpose of this recommended practice is to provide authorities having jurisdiction
with a field means of determining the tendency of textiles and films to sustain burning
subsequent to the application of a relatively small open flame.
The field test method can be useful to regulatory officials as an indicator of whether a
material being used or installed burns very easily or can be flame resistant as indicated
by the following:
(1) Cessation of burning when the igniting flame is removed
(2) Failure to burn at all
(3) Continuing to burn non-aggressively after igniting flame is removed
The field test method has utility only when the authority having jurisdiction has no reliable
data and, therefore, is forced to rely solely on the field test findings.
note: This information was taken from NFPA 701 and NFPA 705. These documents can
be purchased from the NFPA website at
Drapery Test Form
(Theatre Company)
Drapery Test Form
Specimens should be samples removed from the existing material. Specimens should be
dry and should be a minimum of 12.7 mm x 101.6 mm (1/2 in. x 4 in.).
Open Flame
The fire exposure should be from a common wood kitchen match or source with equivalent
flame properties. The flame should be applied for 12 seconds.
The test should be performed in a draft-free and safe location free of other combustibles.
The sample should be suspended (preferably by means of a spring clip, tongs, or similar
device) with the long axis vertical, the flame supplied to the center of the bottom edge, and
the bottom edge 12.7 mm (1/2 in.) above the bottom of the flame.
After 12 seconds of exposure, the match is to be removed gently away from the sample.
During the exposure, flaming should not spread over the complete length of the sample or,
in the case of larger samples, in excess of 101.6 mm (4 in.) from the bottom of the sample.
There should be not more than 2 seconds of after-flame.
Materials that break or drip flaming particles should be rejected if the materials continue
to burn after they reach the floor.
The deficiencies and limitations of the field test method can lead to misleading or erroneous
results, and the error can be in both directions. It is quite possible to have a too-small
sample show several seconds of after-flaming, causing the material to be rejected. It is
equally possible for improper or inadequate field procedures to incorrectly indicate
satisfactory flame resistance. This can result in dangerous errors.
Field procedures are useful, but they must be used with good judgment and their limitations
should be recognized. Field tests should not be relied on as the sole means for ensuring
adequate flame resistance of decorative materials. They are, however, useful in augmenting
a comprehensive regulatory program.
What needs to be treated?
The NFPA regulations apply to decorative material in all public buildings including theatres,
public halls, department stores, hotels, buildings used for public assembly or amusement,
and schools.
How often does this need to be done?
In NY and Seattle city law, affidavits of fireproofing are valid for one year, after which time
the material needs to be tested. If the fabric is still flame resistant, the affidavit can be
renewed for another year. In NYC after a total of three years, the fabric must be treated
again. In addition, excess movement and handling, washing, dry-cleaning or painting will
affect the flame retardancy of the material and may make additional treatments necessary.
Your municipal or provincial standards may be different.
What are the guidelines for treatment?
The NFPA has set guidelines for the fire protection of all fabrics. These guidelines are
known as NFPA 701 and are interpreted by each municipal fire department.
Can all materials be treated?
No. Certain synthetics will not hold the chemical. Also, there is a possibility the flameproofing
compound will affect the color or quality of some delicate fabrics.
What about inherently flame retardant materials?
If your curtains are made of a fabric that is certified as inherently flame retardant there
should not be a need to treat the curtains. However, you must have an original affidavit from
the curtain manufacturer on file that states the material is IFR. If this is not the case your
curtains may need to be tested in order to have a new affidavit issued.
Are the chemicals dangerous?
No. The chemicals can be non-toxic and odorless. The chemical may drip slightly when
drying. It is recommended that drapes dry for at least 12 hours after treatment. Vendors
need to supply Material Safety Data Sheets on all products used.
Can I treat applicable materials myself?
Yes and No. You can treat many items yourself. Several vendors can supply the chemicals
and sprayers for flameproofing, but by law, they cannot issue an affidavit or certificate of
fireproofing. If your fire department requested a legal affidavit of flameproofing you will
need to hire a professional flameproofing contractor to conduct the treatment.
Drapery Test Form
Drapery Test Form
On _______________________________ (date), I, ______________________________ (name),
tested the following samples:
Sample #1 taken from ___________________________________________________________.
Sample #2 taken from ___________________________________________________________.
Both of the pieces passed the outlined procedures and are attached to this document.
This inspection will need to be done again in one year!
Signature of Theatre Representative
Sample #1
Date of Report
Sample #2
Chapter Four
In This Chapter
• Communicable Diseases—OHS Code Part 35
• Mould
Appendix Items
• SHAPE Safety Bulletin #32B—Food Safety
Ministry of Health—Health File #59—Ten Easy Steps to Make Food Safe—
courtesy of Safety & Health in Arts, Production and Entertainment (SHAPE)
Biological hazards in the theatre industry exist largely, although not solely, in the wardrobe
and makeup departments. Sharps injuries from sewing needles, communicable and infectious
diseases and exposure to mould are the most common biological hazards in theatre.
Of biological hazards identified for theatre, only sharps have legislated requirements in the
OHS Code. Best practices for all biological hazards include limiting workers’ exposure to
the hazard, practicing proper hygiene to protect public health, and reporting infectious or
communicable diseases.
Communicable Diseases—OHS Code, Part 35
Communicable diseases include a broad spectrum of diseases, including airborne
diseases, blood-borne pathogens and vaccine-preventable diseases. The severity of
communicable diseases ranges from the common cold and gastrointestinal illness to
hepatitis and HIV viruses.
Legislated Requirements
• Employers must provide sturdy/puncture-resistant sharps containers with a clearly
defined fill line. Sharps containers must be located as close as reasonably practicable
to where sharps are used.
• Employers must establish policies and procedures for the storage, handling, use
and disposal of biohazardous materials and inform workers of the health hazards
of biohazardous material with which they may come into contact.
• Employers must establish policies and procedures for the post-exposure management of
workers exposed to biohazardous material.
Reference: OHS Code, Part 35
Best Practices
Costume departments should contain sharps containers for sewing needles.
Sharing of water bottles is not recommended. Theatres should provide and label
individual bottles or cups for performers.
Train workers in proper hand hygiene. Costumers and makeup artists should wash their
hands frequently and thoroughly when doing laundry and applying makeup. Nitrile
gloves should be worn if potential exposure to blood or other bodily fluids exists.
Proper labeling of costume articles, especially undergarments and hosiery, is important
to prevent cross-contamination between performers.
Frequent laundering of costumes (every two to three performances) minimizes hygiene
hazards for both performers and costumers doing laundry. Consider doubling costume
pieces that require frequent laundering.
Use “pit pads” for performers who sweat heavily—recycled shoulder pads sewn into the
armpits of undershirts, shirts, etc.
Cosmetics, including street makeup and other skin products, should only be used and
applied in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
Use disposable makeup applicators whenever possible. Non-disposable applicators
should not be shared between performers and must be effectively sterilized after each use.
Do not share containers of any form of cosmetic (skin, eye or mouth). Divide product
into personal/labeled containers or scoop a small amount of product onto a wooden
spatula before applying it to the subject’s skin. The wooden spatula and any surplus
makeup product on the spatula should be disposed of and not used again.
Avoid the sharing of towels. Use individual towels or disposable towels.
personal makeup applicators
If an individual with obvious skin, eye or mouth infection has to be made up, the
makeup artist must use only disposable applicators and wash his/her hands after
completing the makeup before moving on to another subject.
Hair combs/brushes and wigs should be sterilized between subjects.
Mould is naturally occurring and most workers stay healthy when exposed to background
levels of mould. However, abnormally high levels of mould can cause mould-related illness.
Best Practices
Costumes should be allowed to dry completely following performances and laundering.
Workers should report any mould-related work area concerns.
Chapter Five
In This Chapter
• Working Alone—OHS Code Part 28
• Violence—OHS Code Part 27
• Fatigue
Appendix Items
• Workplace Violence Policy
• Tips for Preventing and Managing Incidents of Violence or Harassment—
courtesy of Workplace Health and Safety Bulletin Preventing Violence and Harassment at the Workplace
Psychosocial hazards in the workplace are as real as physical, chemical and biological
hazards, although less tangible/more difficult to identify and control (and there’s no personal
protective equipment available!). Psychosocial hazards should be treated with the same care
and attention as all other identified hazards; employers and workers need to work together
to ensure the mental and emotional health and safety of everyone at the workplace.
Working Alone—OHS Code, Part 28
A worker is “working alone” if they are at a worksite and assistance is not readily available
in case of emergency, injury or illness. At a theatre, this could be a scenic artist who works
alone overnight to do touchups on a set, an assistant stage manager who comes in to
preset before anyone else is in the building, the lone props department worker who goes to
the storage facility on their own, etc.
Legislated Requirements
Employers must ensure that an effective communication system is in place between a
worker who works alone and persons who can provide assistance in case of an emergency,
illness or injury. This may include one or more of the following methods:
• radio, telephone or other electronic communication
• visiting or contacting the worker at intervals appropriate to the nature of hazards of
the work, if effective electronic communication is not practicable or readily available
Reference: OHS Code, Part 28
Best Practices
Employers should ensure that no worker undertakes dangerous work while alone. This
includes using power tools and equipment, working at heights, moving/lifting heavy
items, doing electrical work, etc.
Workers should always inform their employer where they will be working and to what
time they will be engaged.
Workers should arrange for assistance from another person who can provide help
immediately when working alone.
A formal check-in procedure should be established with the employer where applicable.
A family member (spouse, child, close friend, roommate, etc.) cannot substitute for
an employer.
Workers should know where first aid supplies, fire extinguishers, telephones and
emergency evacuation routes are before they find themselves working alone.
Employers should do everything practicable to ensure the security of their facility and
workers. Consider installing an emergency telephone and/or security system.
Encourage and/or require workers to lock doors when working alone in the box
office, lobby, etc.
Front of House workers must be able to reach stage management immediately during
pre-show, performance and intermission and vice versa. This can best be accomplished
via an intercom system between the lobby and the tech booth.
Have stage management and FOH team members leave the theatre together at the end
of the evening/performance.
Violence—OHS Code, Part 27
Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry formally recognizes violence in the
workplace as a hazard that must be assessed and controlled. The OHS Code defines
violence as “the threatened, attempted or actual conduct of a person that causes or is
likely to cause physical injury”—this includes both harassment and bullying. Workplace
violence can occur anywhere—it can be subtle or overt, deliberate or unintended,
occurring between workers or between workers and patrons/strangers.
Legislated Requirements
Sections 390, 391 and 392 of Part 27 of the OHS Code require employers to:
• recognize and assess workplace violence as a hazard
• develop a policy and procedures on potential workplace violence
• communicate the organization’s policy and procedures related to workplace violence
• instruct workers on recognizing workplace violence
• develop appropriate responses to workplace violence
• develop procedures for reporting, investigating and documenting incidents of
workplace violence
• investigate incidents of workplace violence, prepare a report of the incident that includes
corrective actions to prevent a recurrence and have the report readily available for
inspection by an occupational health and safety officer
Section 8 of Part 1 of the OHS Regulation requires that the policy, procedures and incident
reports be in writing and available to workers.
Reference: OHS Code, Part 27
Best Practices
Proactively build a respectful workplace. Respect includes all protected human rights
(gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, ancestry, colour, marital status,
socio-economic status, mental or physical disability, etc.), as well as respect for the
workplace environment, property, other people’s privacy, physical space and belongings,
different opinions and beliefs, and the safety of the workplace.
Avoid the phrase “zero tolerance” in your workplace violence policy—it can serve to
discourage workers from reporting incidents of workplace violence and cause workers
to lose confidence in the policy if they feel appropriate actions were not taken.
Post your workplace violence policy in public areas of your facility, in addition to
communicating the policy with workers. Consider including the information in letters
or emails to subscribers/patrons.
Consult the information and appendices in AEII’s Preventing Violence and Harassment
at the Workplace Bulletin to assist you in developing and implementing a workplace
violence policy and procedures.
Provide appropriate conflict management and resolution training to workers likely to
encounter or be the victim of workplace harassment or violence—in particular box office,
front of house, concession and stage door/facility workers. This should include Alberta
Gaming and Liquor Commission’s Alberta Server Intervention Program (ASIP) for all
workers who serve alcohol.* The WCB Alberta also offers a “Preventing Workplace
Violence” seminar.
note: as of January 1, 2007, organizations that have Class A, B, D, E, Duty Free and Commercial
Public Resale Special Event liquor licenses are required to have one worker per shift per
licensed room certified under ASIP. Most theatres have Class B liquor licenses. Stricter
requirements will come into force January 1, 2010. Visit for more information.
Ensure your building is secure. Hire security.
Ensure adequate personal and working space for all workers. Violence prone individuals
have a need for personal space four times larger than the average individual.
Develop corrective action plans and/or disciplinary consequences in reaction to
an incident.
Most employers and workers in the theatre industry will experience job-related fatigue at
some time in their careers. Industry demands and challenges such as hard deadlines, poor
scheduling and planning practices, “cowboy” culture and workers who work several jobs/
contracts simultaneously complicate this far-too-common problem. Fatigued workers tend
to react more slowly than usual, fail to respond to things going on around them or respond
incorrectly, show poor logic and judgment, are unable to concentrate, are less motivated
and more forgetful, and have a greater tendency for taking risks.
Best Practices
An industry, workplace or peer culture that supports and/or rewards workers willing
to work long hours and/or many consecutive days regardless of fatigue should not be
tolerated or fostered.
Employers must consider how work outside of the “normal” workday and extended work
hours could affect a worker’s health, safety and family and social life.
Proper production planning which includes time to deal with last-minute/unforeseen
work should be used to eliminate the need for overtime.
Exposure to physical and chemical hazards must be considered and minimized when
hours of work are extended.
The use of PPE that may test the limits of endurance of some workers (i.e. heavy and/or
restrictive equipment) must be considered and minimized when hours of work are extended.
Unnecessary distractions should be minimized. Consider setting policies for personal
cell phone and personal music device use. Ensure background music does not interfere
with workers’ ability to focus and concentrate.
According to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, the workday is limited to 12
consecutive working hours in any one day. Those working in community theatres and on
independent productions where workers will likely work at two jobs in one day should
try to schedule work with adequate periods of rest (including time for travel, eating,
etc.) between jobs and to avoid a significantly long work day for workers.
Mandatory off-duty hours increase the likelihood that a worker will rest or sleep. Rest
time can be enhanced with onsite, quiet accommodation and prepared/supplied meals.
Driving while fatigued is extremely dangerous. Studies have shown that after 20 hours of
sustained wakefulness, a person can be as functionally impaired as someone with a
blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent—a level of alcohol intoxication greater than
the level legally permitted in Alberta.
• Employers should make travel arrangements for workers who claim or seem
to be experiencing fatigue.
• Workers who drive as part of their duties should travel in pairs whenever possible.
Workers must be upfront and honest about their schedules and personal limits. Contract
workers and volunteers should understand that the inability to maintain sleep regularity
(changing, non-regular sleep periods) may cause fatigue.
If you feel fatigued, the best response is to stop work or take a long break. Continuing
to work after fatigue sets in increases the risk of incidents and injuries to you and your
coworkers and decreases productivity.
Definition of Violence
In this document “violence” is defined as the threatened, attempted or actual conduct of a
person that causes or is likely to cause physical injury. Because ______________________
___________________ is a public building, our employees face the possibility of threats or
occasions of violence from the general public, from facility renters, visiting artists, contract
workers, patrons and other employees.
Definition of Employee
In this document “employee” is defined as a person who is in the employ of ______________
____________________________in the position of a wage earner, contractor or volunteer.
Contractor includes all persons who have entered in a contract with ____________________
__________________ and includes, but is not limited to, artists, designers and rental clients.
Definition of Supervisor
In this document “supervisor” is defined as the manager of the employee. In cases where the
employee does not have a direct supervisor, any manager shall be deemed the supervisor
for dealing with acts of violence, until an appropriate supervisor is identified.
Statement of Belief
Acts of violence within ___________________________________ are unacceptable whether
committed by an employee against another employee or a member of the public, or by a
member of the public against any employee. _________________________________ believes
in the prevention of violence and promotes a violence-free workplace in which all people
respect one another and work together to achieve common goals. The management of
______________________________________ is committed to investigating reported incidents
of violence in an objective and timely manner, taking necessary action and providing appropriate
support for victims. No action shall be taken against an individual for making a complaint unless
the complaint is made maliciously or without reasonable and probable grounds.
Recognizing Workplace Violence
Generally, acts of violence take the form of unwarranted and/or unwelcome physical
contact. On the whole, acts of violence are those which destroy individual dignity, lower
morale, engender fear and break down work unit cohesiveness.
Workplace violence will be deemed to have occurred when the above acts are directed by
or towards staff, visitors and/or members of the public.
An act of violence may occur as a single event or may involve a continuing series
of incidents.
Violence will not measured by gender in that violence victimizes both men and women.
Workplace Violence Policy
(Theatre Company)
Workplace Violence Policy
Policy and procedures to minimize or eliminate workplace violence
Employees should avoid confrontation whenever possible.
ii. Anyone feeling threatened or endangered or suspecting that someone else is being
threatened or endangered shall immediately contact their supervisor.
iii. When working in a public space, anyone witnessing unusual behaviour or loitering
of undesirables in _____________________________________________, should contact
________________________________________ (name/position).
iv. Whenever management deems the possibility of violence is increased, additional
security staff shall be hired and/or requests made to the city for assistance.
Appropriate response to workplace violence and how to
obtain assistance
First, an employee sustaining an injury shall seek medical attention immediately.
ii. Second, the employee shall report the incident as indicated below.
iii. Should the employee require assistance from an outside party, he/she shall speak
to his/her supervisor, who will pursue assistance on the employee’s behalf.
iv. Any employee experiencing adverse aftereffects resulting from workplace violence
or from being exposed to workplace violence shall consult a health professional
of the employee’s choice.
Procedures for reporting, investigating and documenting incidents
of workplace violence
Any overt incident of violence, whether personal injury occurs or not, shall not be
deemed trivial. All overt incidents occurring in ___________________________________
must be reported to _______________________________(name/position) immediately
followed by the submission of an incident report.
ii. When an injury occurs as a result of the incident, an injury report must also be
completed and submitted to ____________________________________ (name/position).
iii. Any incident of suspected violence shall likewise be taken seriously and be reported
using the above procedure, so that the matter can be investigated and responded to
in an appropriate manner.
iv. If the investigation of either overt or suspected violence reveals evidence to support
the complaint of violence, management will undertake corrective actions in order
to prevent a recurrence. These actions will be outlined in a written report and the
offender will be disciplined appropriately.
v. Appropriate discipline may include either or both of the following: involvement of the
Police Department and/or suspension or dismissal. The incident will be documented
and placed in the offender’s file.
vi. This item primarily refers to, but is not limited to, employees who deal with the public.
It is recognized that due to ____________________________________ position as a public
building in ________________________________________ (city/location), employees may
have to use as much force as deemed necessary to protect themselves from violent
vii. Regardless of the outcome of a complaint of violence, as long as the complaint was
deemed to have been made in good faith and without malice, the employee lodging
the complaint, as well as anyone providing information, will be protected from any
form of retaliation by either co-workers or superiors. Types of retaliation may include,
but are not limited to, dismissal, demotion, unwanted transfer, denial of opportunities
within the company and/or harassment of an individual as a result of having made a
complaint or having provided evidence regarding the complaint.
viii. Incident and injury reports will be kept for a minimum of three years by _____________
__________________(name/position). Employees named in an incident report will have
access to the appropriate report upon written request as required by the Personal
Information Protection Act.
ix. Strict confidentiality will be maintained. No details of incidents shall be disclosed
to any third party without prior consultation with the victim.
x. Employees not satisfied by the internal procedure undertaken by the theatre may
pursue their concerns through alternate forums, such as a union or local law enforcement
agency, if appropriate.
The effectiveness of the above procedures will be monitored by ________________________
__________ (name/position). Any concerns or questions about the policies and procedures
indicated herein shall be addressed to _______________________________ (name/position).
Workplace Violence Policy
actions of intruders in the facility. If investigation proves this to be the case disciplinary
actions may not result.
1.0 Alberta Government Resources
Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry (AEII)
Receive information about Workplace Health and Safety, including legislative requirements,
how-to bulletins and other relevant publications, e-learning tools, educational and
promotional resources.
Workers’ Compensation Board–Alberta (WCB)
The Workers’ Compensation Board–Alberta is a not-for-profit mutual insurance corporation
funded entirely by employers.
2.0 Theatre Alberta Resources
Theatre Alberta has a fully circulating play script and theatre reference library housed at our
office in Edmonton (3rd Floor Percy Page Centre, 11759 Groat Road). The library has a growing
collection of technical theatre and health and safety resources.
Library materials are mailed free to Theatre Alberta members who reside outside of the
Edmonton area. The full library catalogue is available online at
Theatre Alberta welcomes and encourages acquisition/purchase suggestions from the
Alberta theatre community.
3.0 Theatre Specific Resources
Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety (ACTS)
ACTS is a not-for-profit corporation based in New York City that provides health, safety,
industrial hygiene, technical services, and safety publications to the arts, crafts, museums,
and theatre communities.
Of particular interest:
• The Health & Safety Guide for Film, TV & Theater by Monona Rossol (2000)
• The Artist’s Complete Health and Safety Guide by Monona Rossol (2001)
• Stage Fright: Health and Safety in the Theatre by Monona Rossol (1991)
• ACTS FACTS, a monthly newsletter
Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology/Institut canadien des
technologies scénographiques (CITT/ICTS)
CITT/ICTS is a national arts service organization with the mission of actively promoting the
professional development of its members and working for the betterment of the Canadian live
performance community.
Of particular interest:
• Theatre Safety Basics: A Guide to Creating a Safety Program for Your Company (1999)
Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA)
ESTA is a non-profit trade association based in New York City representing the entertainment
technology industry and dedicated to a core mission of Building the Business of Show
Business. ESTA promotes professionalism and growth in the industry and provides a forum
where interested parties can come together to exchange ideas and information, create
standards and recommended practices, and address issues of training and certification.
Of particular interest:
• Technical Standards Program—
• Entertainment Technician Certification Program—
Entertainment Technology of New Zealand
Of particular interest:
• A Guide for Safe Working Practices in the New Zealand Theatre & Entertainment
Industry, Draft 10 by Stephen Blackburn, Nick Kyle, Phil Conroy and Rob Peters (2004)
Ontario Ministry of Labour
The Ontario Ministry of Labour advances safe, fair and harmonious workplace practices that
are essential to the social and economic well being of the people of Ontario.
Of particular interest:
• Safety Guidelines for the Live Performance Industry in Ontario, 3rd Edition (2005)
Safety and Health in Arts, Production and Entertainment (SHAPE)
SHAPE is an industry association dedicated to promoting health and safety in film and
television production, theatre, music, and other performing arts industries in British
Columbia. SHAPE provides information, education, and other services that help make arts
production and entertainment workplaces healthier and safer. SHAPE is funded by the
Workers’ Compensation Board of B.C.
Of particular interest:
• Working at Heights in the Live Production Industry in B.C.: A Guide to WCB Requirements
and Safe Work Practices (2005)
• Focus on Safety: Safe Work Practices for Film and Television Production in B.C. (2003)
• Health and Safety Guide for Live Performance (Theatre)
• various publications and safety guidelines on just about any topic of interest
Theatre Ontario
Theatre Ontario provides theatre practitioners throughout Ontario with training and
information to enhance and support their art form.
Of particular interest:
• To Act In Safety (2001)
4.0 Other Resources
Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC)
AWCBC was established to facilitate the exchange of information between Workers’
Compensation Boards and Commissions.
Canada’s National Occupational Health and Safety Website (CanOSH)
A website to enable Canadians to easily and independently locate occupational health and
safety information provided by the federal, provincial and territorial governments of Canada
and by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
CCOHS is a Canadian federal government agency based in Hamilton, Ontario, which serves to
support the vision of eliminating all Canadian work-related illnesses and injuries.
Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC)
CHRC strives to be at the centre of vision and forward thinking in the area of cultural
human resources development. CHRC brings together representatives of arts disciplines and
cultural industries in the cultural sector to address the training and career development
needs of cultural workers—artists, creators, technical staff, managers and all others engaged
professionally in the sector, including the self-employed.
Health Canada
Health Canada is the Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and
improve their health, while respecting individual choices and circumstances.
Health Canada: Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is Canada’s national hazard
communication standard.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), Labour Program
The objective of the HRSDC’s Labour Program is to promote a fair, safe, healthy, stable,
cooperative and productive work environment, which contributes to the social and economic
well-being of all Canadians.
Job Safety Skills Society\
The JSSS is a partnership with educators, industry, government and the community created to
address the unacceptable number of workplace injuries and fatalities among young workers.
World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is the United Nations specialized agency for health. WHO’s objective is the attainment
by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF