Audrey Cooney

Failure to apply NFPA codes and standards referenced in OSHA regulations cited in tent collapse that killed two

Blog Post created by Audrey Cooney Employee on Mar 3, 2016

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OSHA recently released its finding on the fatal collapse of a circus tent in New Hampshire last summer, reinforcing the importance of proper maintenance and adherence to safety codes.

The tragic accident killed two people and injured 50, including several employees of the circus. OSHA found 14 serious violations in total and proposed that the circus operator, Walker International Events, be fined $33,800.

In a release issued this month, OSHA delineated the circus operator’s failings that led to the tragic deaths of a father and daughter, and injuries to many others. The report concluded that the tent was not erected properly, and the operator failed to use the required tent stakes, to properly anchor the stakes, and to replace stakes that had been damaged. In addition, the circus operator ignored multiple warnings from the National Weather Service about severe thunderstorms that were rolling into the area.

The violations acknowledged in the OSHA findings go against several safety codes that theNational Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has created that address safety, including:

These codes pertain to fire and life safety, electrical design, installation, and inspection and construction design.

Along with the tent missteps, OSHA’s investigation uncovered other hazards that placed employees of the circus at risk for electric shock, burns, lacerations and struck-by injuries. The report went on to detail incorrect use of electrical equipment, inadequate safety gear, unmarked exits, and a lack of fire extinguishers. These infractions point to systematic disregard for the safety of circus employees and attendees alike.

With spring and summer just around the corner there will be more and more events involving the sort of tent that was involved in the 2015 catastrophe in New Hampshire. Meticulously observing established safety codes will go a long way in protecting all those involved.

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