Krista Layfield, is a first-year MAAA student at Indiana University. She is from Carmel, Indiana and holds a B.A. in Arts Administration/ Communication/ Theater from IUPUI & Butler University. Outside of being a MAAA student, she manages the Lilly Theater at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis and serves as a board member for Summit Performance Indianapolis. Recently, she went conference in Hawaii to learn more about OSHA and its importance in the theater industry.
What makes us shudder in the entertainment industry more than hearing the words “OSHA?” There seems to be a common misconception that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) are the bad guys. I recently attended an OSHA and Master Class Rigging conference, taught by the IATSE Entertainment and Exhibition Industries Training Trust Fund — whose job is basically to dispel the belief that we as industry professionals, should not be afraid of the good work that OSHA actually does.
Over the 4 seven-hour sessions we learned that “OSHA standards are rules that describe the methods employers are legally required to follow to protect their workers from hazards.” This means that it is the employers’ responsibility to train their employees about best safety practices. These practices can actually help protect their workforce, as well as themselves and help everyone continue to produce high quality and safe shows. In this particular conference, OSHA was working in conjunction with IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees), to “…provide the best training possible to employees, and provide standardized safety practices and training throughout the industry.”
The OSHA 10 (General Industry) session, which covers film and television, and theater, was the one that I attended. I learned quite a bit of valuable lessons about Elevated Work Platforms/Aerial Lifts; such as scaffolding, ladders, scissor and Genie lifts. (You mean we’re not supposed to take the outriggers out to get close enough to that flat — to finish painting it 25’ in the air?) We also learned how to read and understand the information listed on a SDS form (Safety Data Sheet)— that’s what is really in that fog fluid?! We also learned about basic electrical safety, fall protection and prevention, hand and power tools safety and maintenance, ergonomics, exit routes, emergency action plans, and personal protection equipment.
My biggest takeaway was being made aware of basic safety practices. This experience was a reminder that employees, and myself as an arts administrator, must always be aware of our rights and responsibilities in regards to safety. (Are you sure you want to use that extension ladder on those stairs like that, to focus that instrument?!) Also, the conference was a good reminder, these rules and standards were made because unfortunately someone or something got injured or destroyed. As arts administrators we won’t be able to help ourselves shuddering when we hear the mention of “OSHA,” but we will be aware that they are good guys and their task is to share knowledge about its safety practices and training.
 2017, OSHA 10/General Entertainment Safety, pg 32