Prolyte Campus blog: Risk Assessment

In this blog I’ll touch on Risk Assessment. It’s nice pointing out the hazardous situations we see, and the small and larger accidents that unfortunately happen. But how can we prevent these to happen? Risk Assessment plays a major part in the prevention of incidents. It may not be the sexiest topic, but, in my opinion, of paramount importance.

Almost all Laws and Regulations require the manufacturer to do a risk assessment when designing and/or selling a (new) product. Any foreseeable hazard should be ‘designed away’ or reduced to acceptable levels of probability and consequences.

The same requirements apply to any user, when using products in any situation or configuration that is not described in the manufacturers product information or manual. It also applies to situations where a combination with other products is used, that might result in a possible new set of hazards.

As an example, you might want to look at heating hazards in combination with your rig. It is not just the pyro-boys that could burn or melt rigging components, high energy lighting fixtures can also be hazardous heat sources. Furthermore, the internet shows us an increase of sound cabinet fires as well. All these products or components can present a risk to your construction or rig.

For riggers this means that the classic truss suspension materials like webbing or round slings (commonly known as ‘spansets’) are better left in the warehouse. Various tests have shown that artificial fibre slings will not survive the onslaught of a ‘Sharpie’ or a ‘Pointe’, even from distances over 3 to 4 metres.

Not directly a riggers issue, but a front curtain and other softs on and over the stage, can become the full responsibility of the Lighting Designer. Lighting fixtures can burn and melt stage textiles or cause – worst case scenario – stage fires.

Back to the rigging responsibilities
There are some very good standard Risk Assessment methods available for our industry, one of them can be found as part of the EU-draft CWA 19502-1. This might be a bit broad, but we can summarize the essentials for any rigger in the following list of questions:

1.    What if? Identify the safety critical equipment and operations.

  • What if an operator error occurs?  Can that result in an overload on a truss or on a chain hoist?
  • What if a thunder- & rain-storm hits the stage? Can we evacuate in time?
  • What if one guy wire or ballast fails?
  • What if a spanset or ratchet strap burns or melts?

2.    What are the consequences of such an incident? Identify and manage the risks.

  • During the build – for the technical team. During the performance – for the performers and/or audience.
  • Can they lead to death, serious injuries or just property damage?

3.    What is the probability of such incident to occur?

  •  Are all loads known? Is a rigging plan available? Is all equipment tested and/or visually checked?

4.    Identify the risk reduction factors or alternative options. Are technical back-ups possible to provide in redundancy? Or is an increased ‘Coefficient of Use’ an adequate measure to reduce the risks.

These 4 components should be part of any risk assessment and/or Method Statement. Furthermore, for any responsible rigger, these questions should be top-of-mind in the design, preparation and execution of any project, installation or show. A non-stop safety awareness is part of any riggers job, so be prepared to have the answers.

Watch TrussBusters to see the impact of heat on a roundsling


Read the Prolyte BlackBook for more on risk assessment


Our experiences with this new ProLyft system are really positive. Rigging and outlining line-array systems is now very fast and accurate. Furthermore, the installing teams we’re a pleasure to work with.

Arnold van Duijn Chief Operational Services, Concertgebouw Amsterdam