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April 30, 2009

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Unsecured theatre lights fall on children

Two young children narrowly avoided serious injury after an unsecured lighting stand toppled over and struck a push-chair.

The incident took place on 24 June 2006 at Portobello Town Hall, which was hosting a show for a local music school. The venue had sub-contracted Blueparrot Production and Events Ltd to provide the lighting for the event.

Blueparrot erected two lighting stands either side of the stage and situated them in between a row of seats and the upstand of the balcony. The lights weighed approximately 80kg each and were not secured in place.

When the audience began to leave the auditorium after the show, one of the stands fell and struck a push-chair, which had a four-month old baby strapped inside. The light also hit the baby’s five-year-old brother who was standing next to the buggy. As a result of the accident the baby received a cut above her right eye but her brother avoided injury. Both were taken to hospital to be treated for shock.

Blueparrot appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 24 April 28 and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.10(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, for failure to take sufficient steps to prevent an injury caused by the falling of an object. It was fined £2000 but no costs were awarded.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and has subsequently carried out a risk assessment to ensure similar incidents are avoided. It has also appointed a health and safety consultancy to review is safety procedures.

HSE inspector, Peter Dodd, told SHP: “Thankfully the injuries to the children were minor however it was just sheer luck that no one was killed. The arrangement for the lighting at the children’s show in Portobello was makeshift and the problems should have been anticipated.

“The firm failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment and the accident could have easily been avoided if it had taken steps to secure the lighting columns to the balcony.”

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