The collapse of outdoor entertainment stages during the past 12 months, often with tragic results, has spurred companies to take a look at their safety-and-prevention strategies, according to one insurance specialist.
"After this latest collapse, all live event companies are going to take a hard look at what they are doing to prevent this type of thing from happening," said Scott Carroll, executive vice president and program director at Santa Ana, Calif.-based Take1 Insurance, an entertainment industry underwriting program offered by the managing general agency and wholesale broker U.S. Risk Insurance Group Inc., based in Dallas.
On June 16, a stage that was being prepared for a Radiohead concert in Toronto collapsed, killing a drum technician and injuring three others. An investigation by Canadian authorities found inconsistent labor-and-safety standards were partly to blame.
Last August, a 15-foot video screen toppled over the back of the stage at a Flaming Lips concert in Tulsa, Okla. No injuries were reported, but the incident happened in the middle of the show, prompting bassist Michael Ivins to leap out of the way. Event organizers blamed the incident on severe weather.
In Indianapolis last August, wind gusts toppled a stage at an Indiana fair, killing seven people and injuring dozens of others. The incident, recorded by a local television station, prompted state lawmakers to pass new rules governing stage rigging.
In an interview with Risk & InsuranceŽlast year following the Indianapolis incident, Chicago-based attorney Kevin Durkin said he would advise all contractors associated with outdoor concerts to carry "substantial general liability insurance with the state named as additional insured."
Take1 Insurance's Carroll also said the possible exit of underwriters from the marketplace would mean less competition and higher prices for new policies underwriting the risk of outdoor events.
Stephen Isenberg, president of Impact Audio Visual Inc., a Burbank, Calif.-based contractor of digital signage, said that, because outdoor concerts are erected and taken down frequently, they are more risky than indoor stages. Indoor concerts take place in buildings where engineers know rig points and the load-bearing characteristics of the stage, Isenberg said.
With outdoor stages made to feel more like indoor events, underwriters need to think about stricter risk mitigation requirements, Carroll said.
-By Cyril Tuohy
July 24, 2012
Copyright 2012© LRP Publications