June 18, 2012 Liz Borkowski, MPH 1Comment

The day after the Tony Awards honored excellence in Broadway theater, the NIOSH Science Blog posted information about some of the theatrical hazards and precautions that may not be visible to audiences. Gregory A. Burr and Deborah Hornback write:

While the theater provides entertainment, the preparation and production of live performances can also pose hazards to those working in all aspects of the theater –from actors on stage to set designers behind the scenes and musicians in the orchestra pit.  Some of these hazards were well publicized in recent years as multiple actors and stunt doubles were injured during the production of Spiderman, Turn off the Dark.  These injuries included harness failure, injuries sustained during flying sequences and actors struck by equipment.

… Data from the Bureau of Labor statistics show that injuries involving days away from work among occupations related to the theater increased from a low of 870 in 2006 to a high of 1,570 in 2008.  In 2009, (the most current data available) injuries decreased to 1,190.  Among the injuries incurred from 2003-2009, 50% were strains and sprains; 41% were to the lower extremities; and the median number of days away from work was 39 days– notable as the national average is around 8 days.

Occupational illnesses are even less likely than injuries to show up in official tallies, and Burr and Hornback also address the chemical and noise exposures that can have long-term consequences for those working in the theater.

The 2012 statistics on deaths among workers in theaters will include one that occurred just days before the Tony Awards ceremony: 22-year-old stagehand Jose Lucero was killed by a 60-foot fall from scaffolding at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, where his crew was removing the MTV Movie Awards. At last report, Cal/OSHA was still investigating whether Lucero was wearing the required fall protection when he fell to his death.

In other news:

iWatch News: It takes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration an average of nearly eight years to issue new standards – and rules on beryllium and silica have been in the works for 12 and 15 years, respectively without being finalized.

New York Times: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has decided that 50 types of cancer should be added to the list of World Trade Center-related diseases for which workers, volunteers, and residents exposed at Ground Zero can be compensated and treated.

Huffington Post: A group of Mexican workers who came to work at CJ’s Seafood in Louisiana under the H-2B guest worker visa program has walked off the job and complained to the Department of Labor about being forced to work long shifts of up to 24 hours without overtime pay.

Shanghai Daily: Apple farmers in eastern Shandong Province have seen their business increase as they’ve switched their apple wrappers from paper bags to pesticide-coated plastic ones – but their exposure to pesticides has also gone up.

Associated Press: Despite India’s new law requiring education for children up to age 14, child labor is still common, with 50,000 children believed to be working in factories in New Delhi alone. Many of them work in hazardous jobs in brick kilns, chemical factories, and fields where pesticides are heavily used.

One thought on “Occupational Health News Roundup

  1. I am a safety consultant based out of Atlanta – the new Hollywood of the South. I have been trying my best to convince these production companies that they need to have safety but no one wants to listen to me until something goes wrong…but I’m going to keep on trying my best to change their mind!

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