May 8, 2015
Resolving a citation issued by OSHA in May 2014, Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus has recently come to a settlement agreement with OSHA. This agreement is intended to bolster the protections in place for circus employees who perform in aerial acts, and it will reportedly become a final order of OSHA on May 13, 2015.
Background on the Settlement Agreement
The citation in question was issued by OSHA last year after 9 circus employees were seriously injured when an aerial act ended in disaster during a Rhode Island performance. According to the OSHA investigation of this accident, the carabiner used to support eight suspended performers was not properly used (i.e., was not loaded according to the manufacturer’s instructions), causing the performers to fall 15 feet to the ground, where they landed on a ninth circus employee.
Following the OSHA investigation into the incident, Feld Entertainment, Inc. (the company that owns Ringling Bros. circus) was issued a citation for a “serious” OSHA violation and was slapped with a $7,000 fine (the maximum allowable fine by law).
Details of the OSHA Settlement Agreement
According to the terms of the OSHA settlement, Feld Entertainment has agreed to take the following actions moving forward:
- Have all current and new aerial acts be reviewed by a registered, professional engineer
- Develop a technical book for each performance act and distribute these books to each circus unit
- Put together a detailed written checklist for assembling and inspecting the hardware/other equipment used for each performance act
- Conduct annual safety reviews to address employee-related safety topics.
Commenting on this settlement agreement, OSHA Rhode Island Area Director Patrick Griffin explained:
This agreement goes beyond this one case. It commits Ringling Bros. to continual, effective and detailed corrective action that will address and enhance safety for all its aerial acts, so that catastrophic incidents, such as the Providence fall and the needless worker injuries that resulted, never happen again.
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