Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been fined $7,000 by regulators at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for its role in causing a serious circus accident that ended up injuring nine circus employees.
According to the official OSHA citation, which was issued on November 4th, the circus accident occurred back in May when the circus was putting on a show in Providence, Rhode Island.
During an act known as the “human chandelier” or the “hair hang” act, eight performers were suspended from a carabiner that ended up braking because it had not been properly assembled. While the carabiner malfunction caused the eight performers to fall at least 15 feet to the ground, a ninth circus employee who was standing on the ground ended up being hurt also when the falling performers fell on him.
OSHA Citation Points Out Negligence in Circus Accident
Following this circus accident, OSHA officials launched their own investigation and, ultimately, found that the carabiner failure had occurred because circus staff had loaded weight on the carabiner at three points, instead of two. Loading such carabiners only at two points is not only the industry standard, but it is also specifically indicated in the manufacturer’s directions for use of this device.
Given this finding of negligence on behalf of the circus, which is owned by Feld Entertainment, Inc., OSHA cited Feld with a “serious” violation and imposed the maximum allowable fine permitted by federal law, which is currently $7,000.
It will now be up to Feld Entertainment to pay the fine by November 25th or to dispute it by requesting a hearing with OSHA.
The acting deputy regional administrator of OSHA’s New England office, Jeffrey Erskine, has summed up the importance of OSHA’s regulatory role in such workplace accidents by stating:
Equipment failures can lead to tragic results… to prevent these types of incidents, employers need to not only ensure that the right equipment is being used, but also that it is being used properly. The safety and well-being of employees depend on it.”
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