The Indiana State Fair disaster that left seven people dead and 58 seriously injured drew national headlines. The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited three groups in connection with the fatal accident. The Mid-America Sound Corp. of Greenfield, Indiana, the Indiana State Fair Commission and the International Alliance of Theatrical and State Employees Local 30 all received hefty fines for actions related to the stage collapse. The findings point to violations of workplace safety. It is not clear what impact the findings will have on the individuals who were harmed and the loved ones of those who lost their lives in the disaster.
In terms of workplace safety, the most serious violations were attributed to the sound company. That company was in charge of the stage rigging and of selecting workers to assemble it. The company was cited for three "knowing" violations of state safety regulations. Along with the union, which failed to follow proper procedure in securing guide wires, the sound company completed construction which the report determined was not competent according to industry standards. The State Fair Commission was cited for failure to protect its employees from those hazards, as well as for not having appropriate emergency plans in place.
Confusion reigned before and after the accident as conditions worsened and the possibility of injury grew. The report helps to clarify what safety rules were violated and which groups had the authority and responsibility to take action. This investigation tells one small part of the story in what went wrong on that terrible day in August. Other investigations are still pending which will hopefully shed greater light on this tragic situation.
Many lawsuits have been filed in connection with this incident. The injuries and deaths caused by the stage collapse could have been prevented. It is imperative that we understand what went wrong and take steps to hold the responsible parties accountable for the damage they did. By holding negligent people responsible, injured people can help eliminate future accidents and make our communities safer for everyone.
Source: USA Today, "3 groups cited in Ind. State Fair stage collapse," by John Tuohy, 8 February 2012