Archive for Safety
DRUMROLL……..Answer: Rigging (duh)
Do not go on a professional gig without some basics. Do not rely on other people to know what they are doing. This is the single most important part of being an aerialist. Now, of course, it is all fine and good for me to sit here and wag a finger, but how do you know what you don’t know?
First, take a class if at all possible. It is worth going to another city to do so. Also join the aerial riggers yahoo group and listen to the conversation. Knowledge is power as they say. Find a rigger that is highly recommended and use that person whenever possible. The problems come when a job already has a technical person on it, but you have no idea what their experience actually is and you don’t get to meet them until the actual job. Whatever you do, unless you know for certain that good riggers know this person and recommend them, don’t just trust what they tell you. Double check everything.
What are the actual problems that you run into?
On several occasions, we thought we had made ourselves ultra clear about what we needed only to find something was missing or misunderstood.
We have been told a rigger has circus experience only to realize they still didn’t know what they are doing. It really helps to have someone you can call if you aren’t sure. Better safe than maimed. A scenario recently that we ran into… We arrived at a gig, were told that the rigger had circus experience and from far away it looked like a straightforward square box truss. Upon closer examination, it appeared what was holding the top section of truss on each leg was some wrapped chain (not secured) and a two by four. First, we made them remove the chain and use truck straps and secured them ourselves with moused shackles. Then for extra security, we had them remove the two by four and put in steel pipes that were thick and had some lip on either end. All this I ran past our amazing rigger friend who okayed it.
The client doesn’t often know about these things so they may not know who to hire to do it or there may only be one person available locally who does everything. So again it is super important to ask what each part of your rig is rated for separately. Do not be afraid to rock the boat. It is hard to do, but you will feel better and ultimately it serves everyone when you stay safe.
When you ask us, “Are you insured?” we suspect that what you really want to know is, “Are you insured? And is this safe? Is it scary? Have you ever fallen? How do I know you won’t land on my Aunt Daffodil?” Fear not, mah peeps! We’re going to break it down for you.
Is this safe?
Well, it is circus after all, but you have to figure that if we were constantly getting injured, no one would do it! We have spent the past decade training hard (getting up half an hour before we went to bed, eight days a week, through the snow, uphill both ways, etc.), and take what we do very seriously. We don’t work with amateurs or “green” performers for precisely this reason.
“But None Of The Other Companies Had A Problem With That!”
Dear Friend, we cringe when we hear those words. Usually, it’s when we are asked to do something we know compromises the safety of performers or audience, like perform directly over people’s heads without a safety wire, over tables, shark tanks, etc. Allow me to be candid – those other companies are cuckoo! Believe me, we want to perform over your shark tank (really!), but these things have to be done in a safe way, cause you know if we land on Aunt Daffodil, you’ll never hear the end of it.
Do You Use A Net?
Nope! For what we do, a net would actually be more dangerous than a fall! We use safety wires when appropriate or required by law (swinging trapeze, for example), but more often than not, these things actually get in the way and can do more harm than good.
Our Crackerjack Rigging Dudes
How do you know it won’t be raining aerialists at your event? The Fly Guys, that’s how! We’ve assembled a dream team of riggers and specialists whose very existence revolves around keeping us safely in the air and your venue intact. In all seriousness, they’re phenomenal at what they do, and they smell really good (BONUS). Shout out to Bill Auld (the only rigger I’ve ever managed to get in a head lock – it’s a long story), Tony Bonilla from B&W Rigging, our NYC go-to man with the great hat, and the rest of The Fly Guys – we couldn’t do it without you.
Well, I hope that answers a few of your questions! As always, feel free to zap us an email or give us a ring – we’ll have coffee and talk.