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Performance & Rehearsal Facilities Policies


Introduction

These Policies apply to all Emerson College owned or leased facilities, including, but not limited to, the broadcast journalism studio in the Walker Building, the Cabaret, the Cutler Majestic Theater, the Greene Theater, the television and design studios in the Tufte Performance and Production Center (“Tufte Center”), Theater One, the Zero Marlborough dance studio, and all other off-campus facilities such as the Arlington Street Church, the First and Second Church. (All of these facilities collectively are referred to as the “Facilities”.)

These Policies are divided into two sections: (1) a General Policies section that applies to all activities in the Facilities; and (2) a Specific Policies section that applies to activities requiring specific guidelines or special supervision.

Violations of these Policies shall be considered violations of the rules and regulations promulgated in the Emerson College Student Handbook and shall be subject to the disciplinary process and sanctions described therein.

Sources of Assistance

  1. Performing Arts Department – The Performing Arts Department (ext. 8780) is located at 10 Boylston Place on the 5th Floor. The Department shares in the responsibility for coordinating, approving, and reserving the use of specific Tufte Center facilities for rehearsal or performance. Questions should be directed to Bonnie J. Baggesen (ext. 8366).
  2. Television Radio & Film Production – Tufte Center Television Studios A & B, and Control Rooms A & B – Tom Guganig, Manager, Television Studios, William Travers, Assistant Manager, Television Studios, and support staff are located in room 814, 8th floor, PPC (ext. 8847 and ext. 8419). They provide technical 9.18.03 support for the equipment and facilities in the Tufte Center studios and serve as a general resource for information on facility policies and procedures. Staff hours are 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  3. Television Radio & Film Production - Journalism Television Facilities – Timothy MacArthur, Manager, Journalism Television Facilities, and the Assistant Manager, Journalism Television Facilities, and support staff are located in room 631, 6th floor, Walker Building (ext. 8433). They provide technical support for the equipment and facilities in the Journalism Television Facilities and serve as a general resource for  information on facility policies and procedures. TRF staff hours are 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  4. Office of Student Life – The Director of Student Activities is located at 96 Beacon Street (ext. 8680) and shares in the responsibility for coordinating, approving, and reserving use of the Cabaret.
  5. Property Management – The Property Management Department is located at 120 Boylston Street (ext. 7814). The Department shares in the responsibility for coordinating, approving, and reserving the use of all Facilities.
  6. Cutler Majestic Theatre – The Cutler Majestic Theatre is located at 219 Tremont Street (ext. 8185). The technical personnel of the Majestic provide support for the equipment in the Tufte Center, as the Majestic performance schedule allows. Such personnel also serve as a general resource for technical theater questions.
  7. Emerson Police – Emerson Police personnel are trained in first aid and can also arrange medical transport. However, in the case of any fire, police, or medical emergency, call 911 first, and then call Emerson Police at extension 8555.

Facility Condition Policies

  1. A “Normal” state will be defined for each space – house, stage, grid, trap, rehearsal, studio, etc. “Normal” is the required, agreed upon condition(s) for the space following use.
  2. Property Management must approve any changes to the house in advance. This includes any attachments to walls. Proposals for any changes must be submitted in writing and must state the reason why the change is needed, what damage may occur, and what action will be taken to return the house to its normal state.
  3. Nothing will be left on any rigging system unless it is a permanent part of the theater or facility set up.
  4. Attachments to stages should avoid the use of nails, screws, staples, etc. unless there is no other effective means of attaching, and the drilling or making of holes in the stage should likewise be avoided. All nails, screws, staples, etc. must be removed from after use. All holes must be plugged and painted. (Note: Tufte Center Theater One stage panels are vinyl-topped and cannot be painted.)
  5. The stage (as in Tufte Center Theater One) will be returned to “normal”. (“Normal” to be defined...either in the raised platform position, or the lowered floor level position.)
  6. Nothing will be left on the tension-wire grid in Theater One.
  7. All equipment, materials, and other items must be put into proper storage or removed from the facility.
  8. Lighting and Audio must be returned to its “normal” state.
  9. The “trap”, where applicable (e.g. Theater One) will be returned to “normal”.
  10. Nothing (e.g., equipment, materials, etc.) will be placed on the seating in the house.
  11. No food or beverages are allowed in the house seating in Theater One or the Greene Theater.
  12. No food or beverages are allowed on stage, unless required as a part of the performance. If food or beverage is allowed in such cases, the user is responsible for the complete cleanup of any spill.
  13. Any alteration to floor (i.e., masonite) must be returned to “normal”, including replacing, patching, and painting as necessary.
  14. Each space has its own inventory of equipment. No inventory items may be moved from one space to another unless written permission is obtained from the Performing Arts Production Manager. Inventory must be returned to its proper space as a condition of returning that space to normal.
  15. Theatrical equipment may not be used outside except with the joint permission of the Performing Arts Production Manager and Property Management. Proposals for use outside must be submitted in writing and must state the reason why the equipment is needed, what damage may occur, and what is planned for the safety of the public, production crews, and equipment.

General Policies

  1. All doors to the Facilities must be locked following use.
  2. Food and beverages are not permitted in the Facilities.
  3. All Facilities will close no later than 11:00 p.m. All users must exit the Facilities no later than 11:00 p.m., unless alternative arrangements have been made in advance with the Facility Manager of that space and committed to writing.
  4. Use of the following is prohibited in the Facilities unless prior written approval has been obtained from the Property Management Building Manager:
    • Live flames – both open and guarded – (including, but not limited to, matches, candles, sterno, oil lamps, butane or propane torches, cigarette lighters, and cigarettes);
    • Pyrotechnic effects (including, but not limited to, fireworks, starbursts, firecrackers, flash pots, smoke pots, smoke cookies, flash paper, and blank ammunition rounds);
    • Firearms (including, but not limited to, guns, starter pistols, pistols, and rifles), knives, swords, and other weapons;
    • Suspension and flying of personnel and performers;
    • Items suspended over the audience;
    • Oil and chemical foggers and dry ice foggers;
    • Welding;
    • Any unusual stage effect that may raise health or safety concerns.
  5. All parts of the means of exit must be available for immediate, emergency use.
    • Exits and aisles to exits may not be obstructed by anything at any time, including, but not limited to, scenery, lighting, properties, backpacks, sitting personnel, or overflow seating.
    • Aisles and corridors must be unobstructed and kept free of flammable or combustible materials.
    • Rehearsal or performance organizers must inspect the means of exit immediately prior to any event and remove any obstructions at that time.
    • Exit doors must not be locked, chained, or constrained in any way that impedes or prevents use from the inside.
    • Users must take care to ensure that the exit discharge is also unobstructed (e.g., not blocked by dumpsters or vehicles, no materials stored against the exit door, all snow removed). Should there be any blockage of the exit discharge, Emerson Police must be contacted immediately.
    • All exit signs must be clearly illuminated and unobstructed at all times; exit signs may not be covered or disconnected from the electrical supply.
    • The width of a means of exit cannot be blocked or reduced. All passageways leading to an exit must be at least the same width as the exit opening.
    • Draperies or similar decorative hangings cannot obstruct the view of, or the access to, an exit.
    • Mirrors cannot be placed near an exit in any manner that may confuse those trying to exit.
    • Exits cannot be used for any other purpose other than a means of exit. Spaces within a stairway enclosure are not to be used for storage of any materials.
  6. All hallways and doors leading to furnace, electrical, and machine rooms must be kept clear at all times. A three-foot clear area and a means of access must be maintained in front of circuit breaker panels and dimmers. No storage is allowed in furnace or machine rooms.
  7. Fire extinguishers must be kept in their designated locations and must not be blocked or obstructed by scenery or property storage. Crew members must be familiar with the location of extinguishers. Stage managers and house managers must ensure that extinguishers are present and charged prior to any public performance. Fire alarm pull stations, annunciators, smoke detectors, and emergency lighting stations must not be covered or obstructed in any way.
  8. To ensure that first aid kits are maintained, users of the Facilities must report any accident that requires the use of a first aid kit to the Facility Manager of that space or the Property Management Department so that first aid supplies may be replenished.
  9. Certain activities require the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member and may not be performed if such faculty or staff supervision is not present in the space where the activity is being performed. These activities include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Any kind of rigging;
  • Opening or closing of traps;
  • Use of lifts, ladders, chain hoists, or any overhead work area, including, but not limited to, the tension grid;
  • Set construction;
  • Painting of large areas;
  • Use of power tools, pneumatic tools, or hand tools that are dangerous to use or produce a safety related outcome, such as draw knives and swaging tools;
  • Sound installation, connection, and testing;
  • Lighting preparation, including tuning/lamping and wire practicals;
  • Hanging, installation, and focusing of lights;
  • Electrical repair work;
  • Initial testing of light and sound, and recircuiting of same, any significant change to light and sound levels and installation, and setting of maximum levels for light and sound;
  • Pre-rigging of scenery;
  • Loading of large scale materials, equipment, and scenery as determined by a designated faculty or staff member;
  • Scenery installation;
  • Dangerous and/or large scale scenery shifting;
  • Any set design that includes steps, ladders, traps, or other specialty devices;
  • Use of flammable and toxic chemicals;
  • Disposal of all chemicals;
  • Fly cues;
  • Testing flies;
  • Atmospheric effects;
  • “Special” effects;
  • Load-in; and
  • Strike


Before proceeding with any other activity, students must consult with the appropriate designated faculty or staff member to determine if the presence of a designated faculty or staff member is necessary in the space where the activity is being performed. A student shall not be required to perform any activity that makes him or her feel unsafe.


Specific Policies

A. Air Quality

Air quality in shop and stage areas can vary depending on several conditions. These conditions include, but are not limited to, dust from power tools, mists from water-based latex and acrylic paints, and chemical and CO2-based fogs from fog machines.

  1. When wood dust is present in the air, wear a particle mask and safety glasses. Use a portable dust collector with routers and other tools that create substantial amounts of dust.
  2. Latex and acrylic paints are water-based and are generally non-toxic. When these paints are sprayed a fine mist can occur. Wear a particle mask and safety glasses when you are spraying or are in an area where spraying is taking place.
  3. Chemical-based theatrical fogs are not harmful in normal concentrations. Do not exceed limits of concentration on the Material Safety Data Sheet (“M.S.D.S.”) or the limits set forth in the Actors’ Equity Association Guidelines, whichever is less. (Note that use of foggers in the Facilities is prohibited absent prior written approval of the Property Management Building Manager.
  4. CO2 fog does not contain enough oxygen to support respiration. CO2 fog lies on the ground and seeks low areas. Do not lie down in the fog. Avoid breathing the fog.

B. Audio/Visual Equipment

The use of audio/visual equipment includes the risks of electrical shock, burns and physical injury from coming in contact with hot metal, glass, electrical connectors and cables, both hanging and on the floor. Do not use or handle any audio/visual equipment without proper training and authorization. As noted in the General Policies section, sound installation, connection, testing, and other light and sound work may not be performed without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. The rigging of audio/visual equipment is to be done only under the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.
  2. Electrical repair work is only to be performed by trained and qualified personnel.
  3. All audio/visual cables in working and walking areas must be properly dressed and taped down.
  4. Replace unused equipment, cable, and accessories in proper storage areas when work is finished.
  5. Clearly tag or label any damaged equipment and report it to a designated faculty or staff member.
  6. Report any hazards to a designated faculty or staff member.
  7. Safety cables are required on all hanging audio/visual equipment.

C. Cast and Crew (Cosmetics, Fatigue, and Heat Stress)

Cosmetics. Products approved for makeup use have been tested extensively for toxic hazards. Only these products should be used. Old containers of makeup could contain bacteria and should be discarded. Always wash your face and hands before and after applying cosmetics. If you are using makeup from a “communal” makeup kit, use a clean brush to apply such makeup. Shared makeup should not be applied directly to your skin. Makeup artists should wash their hands, as well as any sponges, brushes, or other applicators, between actors. When removing spirit gum or latex, avoid prolonged skin contact with solvents. Moisturizers can be used to replace lost skin oils and to help guard against dermatitis. Guidelines for specific types of makeup appear below.

  1. Creme sticks should be sliced with spatulas onto individual papers. They should be labeled and removed individually for touch-ups.
  2. Lipsticks can be sliced and labeled as well, but for long running shows, individual lipsticks should be used.
  3. Powders may be preferable to pancakes because they create a less viable environment for bacteria. Powders should be used in the smallest containers available in order to individualize usage.
  4. Individual packages of mascara, eyeliner, and eye makeup should be used if possible.
  5. Disposable brushes and sponges should be used and can be distributed to individuals at the beginning of a run. If reusable sponges are used, they should be disinfected prior to use.
  6. Any type of facial hair, skullcaps, sequins, or other face product should be disinfected prior to use by a new performer. Use an approved bactericide for disinfecting. These types of products should be stored in labeled individual bags between performances.

Fatigue. Fatigue is a serious safety concern that should be considered during all stage productions. The following guidelines should be followed to avoid fatigue.

  1. Get appropriate rest. Most people require 8-9 hours of sleep per night.
  2. Take frequent breaks while working. Repetitive or long work sessions can reduce one’s ability to concentrate on the work at hand.
  3. Plan ahead. Having your building materials and equipment ahead of time can increase efficiency and reduce the work time required.
  4. Know when to stop working. Recognize signs of fatigue – loss of concentration, slow reaction times, memory loss – and cease work for the day.

Heat Stress. Stage lighting can produce significant amounts of heat. Make sure to drink plenty of liquids during work sessions, rehearsals, and performances to replace lost fluids. Water and/or sports drinks are recommended. Avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, or caffeinated soft drinks.

D. Chemicals, Chemical Hazards, and Chemical and Other Spills

Solvents and other chemicals are used in shop and stage areas. Many of these chemicals produce toxic fumes and gasses and are extremely flammable. The key to safe chemical usage is to be aware of information on the physical and health hazards of chemicals, safe handling precautions, and emergency and first aid procedures. As noted in the General Policies section, use of flammable and toxic chemicals and disposal of all chemicals require the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Know the products with which you are working. Read the labels on any chemical product before using it. Further information may be found in the Material Safety Data Sheet (“M.S.D.S.”). Contact the Facility Manager of the relevant space for location of M.S.D.S.
  2. Wear the proper protective clothing and equipment for the job.
  3. Each chemical container bears a manufacturer label with the chemical name(s), hazard warnings, and the manufacturer’s name and address. Labels must not be removed or defaced. If the product is transferred from one container to another, the new container must be labeled with the product name, the names of all hazardous chemicals and/or the five most predominant chemical constituents, theChemical Abstract Service (CAS) number for each chemical, and appropriate hazard warnings.
  4. Never purchase or bring any chemical product into the Facilities without also bringing a current M.S.D.S. (Each group must obtain and maintain a M.S.D.S. for each hazardous material used.) If an M.S.D.S. is not received with a product, the group must obtain the M.S.D.S. within a reasonable amount of time.
  5. Prevent ingestion of chemicals. Wash your hands often and especially before eating, drinking, or smoking. Do not eat, drink, or smoke around chemicals.
  6. Keep your work place clean.
  7. Solvents such as paint thinner, lacquer thinner, alcohol, and acetone may only be used in designated areas and in extremely limited quantities.
  8. Use nonflammable materials like water-based paint whenever possible. Water-based or latex paints are less hazardous and allow for easier clean-up and disposal than oil-based paints.
  9. Buy as you need it. Quantities should be limited to the amount necessary for the work in progress.
  10. Spray paints may only be used when there is an adequate supply of fresh air.
  11. Spray paint cans are under extreme pressure and could rupture when exposed to fire. Never puncture aerosol cans or expose them to high heat or other stresses. Read and follow the manufacturer’s label and precautions on aerosol cans.
  12. Empty solvent and spray paint containers require special disposal. See a designated faculty or staff member.
  13. A particle mask is required when spraying latex and acrylic paints.
  14. Protective gloves must be worn when handling chemicals.
  15. Eye protection must be worn when handling chemicals.
  16. Certain chemicals require the use of a protective apron, and one must be worn when appropriate.
  17. Smoking or open flame is not permitted when working with chemicals. Control all ignition sources in areas where flammable liquids are used.
  18. Planning for chemical spills is essential. Before beginning work with chemicals, be sure that the appropriate types and amounts of spill clean-up materials and personal protective equipment are immediately available.
  19. In case of a chemical spill, notify a designated faculty or staff member immediately. Contact Emerson Police if there is a fire or medical attention is needed or if there is a release to the environment (i.e., soil, waterways, sewer, etc.). As noted in the Introduction, in an emergency situation, contact 911 first and then contact Emerson Police.
  20. The following are general guidelines for cleaning up spills: Immediately alert others in the area, and evacuate the area if necessary; contaminated clothing must be removed immediately and the skin flushed with water from no less than fifteen minutes; clothing must be laundered before re-use; if a volatile, flammable material is spilled, immediately warn others in the area, control sources of ignition, and ventilate the area.
  21. Waste chemicals must be disposed of properly. For example, paints and thinners should not be mixed with general trash or poured down the drain. See a designated faculty or staff member before disposing of chemicals.
  22. Activities with chemicals that require a respirator may be performed only by designated faculty or staff members who have been trained, test-fitted, and certified to use a respirator.
  23. Vapors from flammable liquids ignite readily when mixed in certain proportions with air in the presence of an ignition source and could result in an explosion. Flammable and combustible liquids vaporize and form flammable mixtures with air when in open containers, when leaks occur, or when heated.

E. Electricity and Electrical Safety

Electricity is present everywhere in the shop, stage, and studio areas. The risk of electrical shock is present at all times due to constant changes in work areas, lighting positions, and heavy use of electrical equipment and accessories. As noted in the General Policies section, electrical repair work and other activities involving electricity may not be performed without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Electrical repair work may only be performed under the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.
  2. Electrical rigging is only to be performed by trained lighting crew members and under the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.
  3. Only properly grounded tools, cords, and equipment may be used.
  4. Never run extension cords through doorways, windows, or holes in walls.
  5. Check all equipment and cords for damage before use. Do not use a cord with a missing ground prong. Have the connector replaced before using.
  6. Remove damaged equipment from use, tag it, and notify a designated faculty or staff member.
  7. Be alert for extension cords on the floor and in work areas.
  8. Do not overload extension cords. Use one power tool per cord.
  9. Be aware of overhead and floor-mounted lighting fixtures and power cables in stage areas.
  10. Gloves should be worn when focusing lighting equipment or changing lamps.
  11. Safety lines should be attached to wrenches and tools when working overhead.
  12. Hard hats must be worn when people are working overhead.
  13. No electrical equipment that is not part of the regular inventory may be used without permission of a designated faculty or staff member.
  14. Know the capacity of circuits. Do not overload.
  15. Use the shortest extension cable possible.
  16. Never coil or wrap cable around pipes or raceways.
  17. Ensure that all electrical cabling is clear of stage rigging
  18. Notify a designated faculty or staff member of any hazardous electrical condition.

F. Floors

Floor hazards include but are not limited to: open traps in stage floor; wet floors due to painting and spills; obstructions including tools, power cords, air hoses, and materials; and scenery.

  1. Stay alert to changes in work conditions. Be particularly aware of any platforms designated as unsafe to walk on.
  2. Clean spills as they occur.
  3. Place all scrap and debris in proper waste receptacles. Do not allow staples, nails, or screws to protrude from any scrap. Remove them or bend them over.
  4. Do not leave open traps unattended. Install barrier railings.
  5. Clean up tools, materials, and obstructions when finished with a project or when leaving it for an extended period.
  6. Block off entrances to wet painted floor areas.
  7. Put away cords and hoses when the job is completed.
  8. Do not block aisles, hallways, fire exits, doorways, fire doors, fire equipment or electrical panels.
  9. Notify a designated faculty or staff member of any unsafe condition promptly.
  10. Open traps used in performance will be identified during technical rehearsals. Training on their use and safety must be covered in the pre-technical rehearsal safety session.

G. Hand Tools

Hand tools are often overlooked as safety hazards. Be careful. Many tools have sharp edges, blades, springs etc. that may cause severe injuries. As noted in the General Policies section, hand tools may not be used without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Use the proper tool for the job. Do not force the tool.
  2. Maintain tools in good condition. Report damaged tools to a designated faculty or staff member.
  3. Store and carry tools properly. Put them away when you are done.
  4. Be sure your hands are as free of dirt and grease as possible.
  5. When using or carrying a sharp-edged tool, point the sharp edge down and away from you. Do not carry sharp or pointed tools in your pockets.
  6. Wear proper safety equipment.

H. Housekeeping

Work areas should not become congested during rehearsals and set building. Clutter makes it difficult to move around and can be a fire hazard.

  1. To prevent accumulation of materials, trash should be removed daily.
  2. Place trash in proper receptacles, preferably in metal containers.
  3. Clean up after each work session, rehearsal, and performance.
  4. Avoid accumulating scrap lumber and materials.
  5. Purchase materials as needed to avoid the need for additional storage.
  6. Store tools in the proper areas when not in use.
  7. Clean spills as they occur.

I. Ladders

The use of ladders in shop and stage areas is common. Falls from ladders can cause severe injury. Objects falling from ladders can also cause severe injury. Safe ladder practices are essential at all times. As noted in the General Policies section, ladders may not be used without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Students are not required to climb ladders.
  2. Check ladders for broken or damaged parts before use. Never use a damaged ladder. Report any damaged ladder to a designated faculty or staff member and remove it from service.
  3. Only one person may use a ladder at a time.
  4. Do not place a ladder in front of a door that opens onto the ladder unless the door is blocked open, locked from access, or guarded.
  5. Do not place ladders on boxes to obtain extra height.
  6. Always face the ladder when ascending or descending.
  7. Do not stand on the top two treads of a ladder. (Most ladders include the warning statement, “This Is Not A Step.”)
  8. Never leave anything on top of a ladder or on the steps of a ladder unattended.
  9. Do not lean or overreach from a ladder.
  10. Do not straddle the space between a ladder and another object.
  11. Make sure the ladder is fully open and the spreader is locked.
  12. Never reposition a ladder while you are on it.
  13. Store ladders in their proper location after use.
  14. Do not use a ladder on an uneven surface.
  15. Do not use a ladder unless someone else is present in the area.
  16. If practical, tools used atop a ladder should be tethered. Advise others when loose tools or hardware are being used atop a ladder. Call “Heads” if you drop something.
  17. Hardhats are required for all personnel working in the vicinity of someone working on a ladder.

J. Lifting, Pushing, and Pulling

Many workplace injuries are the result of improper lifting, pushing, or pulling of heavy objects. As noted in the General Policies section, load-in, strike, scenery installation, dangerous or large scale scenery shifting, loading of large scale materials, equipment, and scenery may not be performed without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. When lifting objects, do not lift with your back. Squat down, use your leg muscles, and keep your back straight.
  2. If the object appears to be too heavy or awkward, ask for help.
  3. Never slide objects on shelving above your head unless you can see the surface of the shelf.
  4. When moving objects from one area to another, use a cart, hamper, or hand truck. Do not carry heavy objects any great distance in your arms.
  5. When pushing or pulling objects like rolling scenery units, always exert pressure gently. If the unit seems too heavy for you to move by yourself, ask for assistance.
  6. Do not slide objects across the floor by pushing with your foot – knee and ankle injuries may result if the object is too heavy or stops suddenly.
  7. When a number of people are lifting and moving a heavy object, someone should count the lift. Call “Stop” if you observe, or are having, a problem.
  8. To avoid hitting objects and persons when carrying long items, always be aware of the length of the item behind you and out of sight.

K. Lighting Equipment and Overhead Lighting

The use of stage lighting equipment involves the risk of electrical shock and burns from coming into contact with hot metal and glass. Do not use or handle any lighting equipment without proper training and authorization. As noted in the General Policies section, lighting preparation, including tuning/lamping and wire practicals, and the hanging, installation, focusing of lights, and other activities involving lights may not be performed without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. The rigging of lighting equipment is to be done only by trained lighting crew members under the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.
  2. Wear gloves when handling hot lighting equipment and changing lamps.
  3. All electrical, ladder, lift and rigging rules apply while you are working with lighting equipment.
  4. Replace unused gel, cable, lights, and accessories to proper storage areas when work is finished.
  5. Report any damaged equipment to a designated faculty or staff member. Attach a tag describing the damage/problem.
  6. Unplug lighting instruments before changing lamps.
  7. Safety cables are required on all stage lighting equipment and accessories, including top hats, barn doors, metal gel frames, scrollers, etc.
  8. Do not attempt to repair or modify any lighting equipment without proper supervision.
  9. Large rings, loose jewelry, etc. should not be worn when working with lighting equipment.
  10. All lighting equipment must have a safety cable. (As noted above, top hats and barn doors must be attached to the lighting equipment's safety cable.)
  11. Use cardboard gel frames whenever possible.
  12. Completely dry your hands before touching electrical switches, plugs, or receptacles.
  13. Allow at least six feet eight inches clearance to floor under any lighting instrument hung over audience seating or aisles. A designated faculty or staff member must approve the hanging of anything below eight feet, and warning signs must be placed at the entryways.
  14. Report any unsafe condition to a designated faculty or staff member.

L. Low Light Levels

Low light levels are present when lighting equipment is being focused, cues are being written, during rehearsals, as well as performances. EXTREME CAUTION should be used in these conditions. Blackouts may occur at any time. As noted in the General Policies section, lighting preparation, including tuning/lamping and wire practicals, the hanging, installation, focusing of lights, and other activities involving lights may not be performed without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Sound off when stage lights are going to black.
  2. Use a flashlight when necessary.
  3. Stop all hazardous activity during low light levels.
  4. If a blackout occurs and you cannot see anything, stop where you are.
  5. Provide running lights for major pathways whenever possible.

M. Noise Levels

Loud noise levels are present both in shops and on stage. These noises may come from machine tools as well as the theatre sound system and special effects. Prolonged exposure to loud sound levels can severely damage or impair one's hearing. Even short-term exposure to extremely loud sound levels can severely damage or impair one's hearing. As noted in the General Policies section, initial testing of light and sound, and recircuiting of same, any significant change to light and sound levels and installation, and setting of maximum levels for light and sound may be not performed without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Wear ear protection when operating, or in the vicinity of, loud machinery and tools.
  2. Wear ear protection when exposed to loud and prolonged sound from audio systems.
  3. If in doubt, use hearing protection.
  4. Do not expose actors or audience to sound levels in excess of 100 decibels (dBA) peak level. In addition, posted written notice must be provided to the audience if sound levels will exceed 90 dBA.

N. Overhead Work Areas

There are many overhead work areas in the Facilities. These include ladders, lifts, platforms, grids, catwalks, and galleries. As noted in the General Policies section, no overhead work area may be used without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member. There is always a chance that something or someone may fall from an overhead work area. Exercise caution when working overhead as well as below.

  1. Sound off that you are working overhead.
  2. Individuals working below must wear hardhats when overhead work is in process.
  3. If practical, secure all tools and equipment when working overhead.
  4. Stay inside catwalks and railings when working overhead.
  5. Call “heads” if you drop something.
  6. If you do not feel safe working at heights, stop, and inform a designated faculty or staff member.
  7. Do not drop objects from heights; lower them down with a rope.
  8. Empty unsecured objects from your pockets before working on the grid.
  9. Do not look up if someone calls “heads.” Your hard hat will not protect your face or teeth.
  10. Use harness and safety lines at all times when working in unprotected areas such as box brooms or loading bridge.
  11. When changing weight at a loading gallery above the stage floor, the floor must be cleared below before any weight is moved. Sound off when starting and when finished.
  12. Do not leave unsecured tools or materials unattended in overhead work areas.
  13. Observe all load limits for the tension wire grid. No more than four people are allowed per grid section at any time. No scenery or other items may be suspended from the tension cables themselves.
  14. No persons are allowed on the tension wire grid when an audience is present.
  15. Sound off before moving any counterweight line set to inform personnel working above and below.

O. Paint

Most paints used with scenery are low toxicity, acrylic or latex water-based paints. However, spray paints and enamels are sometimes used. These paints can create health as well as safety hazards. Caution should be used when spraying any type of paint. As noted above, use of flammable or toxic chemicals and disposal of all chemicals require the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Read the labels. M.S.D.S. are available. Contact the Facility Manager of the relevant space for location of M.S.D.S.
  2. All individuals present during the spraying of acrylic and latex paints must wear a particle mask and goggles.
  3. Spray paints (cans) may only be used under special circumstances and generally must be used outdoors.
  4. Goggles should be worn when painting overhead or using spray cans.
  5. Clean up paint spills immediately.
  6. Clean up buckets, brushes and rollers when finished painting.
  7. Block access to wet painted floor areas.
  8. Label all containers of site-mixed paint as to the types of paint present.
  9. No paints – even water-based paints – may be disposed down any drain.
  10. Special procedures apply when washing paintbrushes; consult a designated faculty or staff member.

P. Personal Protective Equipment (Safety Glasses, Goggles, Gloves, Work Shoes or Boots)

Personal protective equipment includes all types of equipment used to increase individual safety while performing potentially hazardous tasks. This equipment may include eye and face protection, head protection, foot protection, hand protection, respiratory protection, or any equipment used to protect against injury or illness. Designated faculty or staff members can help assess the need for personal protective equipment and can make selections of such equipment.

  1. Safety glasses look very much like normal glasses but are designed and manufactured to certain standards to protect against flying particles. Safety glasses have lenses that are impact resistant and frames that should be worn whenever there is the possibility of flying particles, dust, wood chips, or paint to enter the eye. Always wear safety glasses when using any power tool.
  2. Goggles are impact resistant and provide a secure shield around the entire eye area to protect against hazards coming from many directions. Safety goggles may have regular or indirect ventilation. Goggles with indirect ventilation may be required if you are exposed to splash hazards such as solvents, paints, or thinners.
  3. Gloves are used to prevent cuts, abrasions, burns, and skin contact with chemicals. It is important to select the most appropriate glove for a particular activity and to determine how long it can be worn, and whether it can be re-used. Nitrile gloves should be worn when handling large amounts of solvents or paint thinners. Leather work gloves may be used in material handling and when using power tools to avoid severe cuts, lacerations, and abrasions.
  4. Leather work shoes and boots with impact protection should be worn when there is the potential for foot injuries from falling or rolling objects. Leather work shoes or boots with puncture protection should be used when sharp objects such as nails, wire, tacks, screws, large staples, etc. could be stepped on causing foot injury. Open-toed shoes should never be worn during any phase of set construction.

Q. Personnel Lifts

Personnel lifts can be dangerous without proper training and techniques. As noted in the General Policies section, use of lifts, ladders, chain hoists, and any overhead work area, including, but not limited to, the tension grid, may not be performed without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Students are not required to use the personnel or other lifts.
  2. The unit must be used on a flat and level surface.
  3. Outriggers must be properly extended and locked before entering the basket.
  4. Do not exceed the maximum load rating. This includes the operator and all equipment in the basket.
  5. Only one person is allowed in the basket.
  6. Do not climb, stand or sit on the basket railings.
  7. Do not lean ladders against the lift. Never apply a side load force to the unit by pushing or pulling from the basket or by hanging heavy wires or cables over the side.
  8. Do not move the personnel lifts when the basket is raised, except under special circumstances and with the explicit approval and supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.
  9. Do not use a lift near overhead electrical lines or obstructions.
  10. Do not stand under the loaded basket.
  11. Hardhats are required for all personnel working below a raised lift.
  12. Never use the lift without someone else present in the area.
  13. If practical, tools used in the personnel lift must be tethered. Advise others when loose tools or hardware are being used. Call “Heads” if you drop something.
  14. After use, properly stow the power cable and return the lift to its storage area.

R. Pneumatic Tools

Pneumatic tools run from compressed air. As noted in the General Policies section, pneumatic tools may not be used without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Eye protection is required when using any pneumatic tool or nozzle.
  2. Eye protection is required when working near (typically within the same room) someone using any pneumatic tool or nozzle.
  3. Never point a pneumatic tool toward yourself or another person.
  4. Never carry a pneumatic tool by the hose.
  5. Never carry a pneumatic tool with your finger on the trigger.
  6. Disconnect the tool when not in use or while loading or unloading fasteners or paint.
  7. Inspect the tool and hose before use.
  8. Always double check that quick couplers are properly connected before releasing the hose.
  9. Report any damaged tool to your supervisor, tag it, and remove it from service.
  10. Do not disable the safety mechanism on any pneumatic staple gun.
  11. Limit air pressure to 100 psi for air guns.
  12. Compressed air shall not exceed 30 psi using a constricting nozzle, 10 psi for cleaning and blowing off clothing.
  13. Shut off any air compressor before leaving a workspace. Disconnect all hoses from the compressor when leaving the workspace.

S. Power Tools

Power tools include large machine tools as well as portable, hand-operated power tools. Extreme caution should be used when operating and making adjustments to these tools. You must have safety training for a power tool before using it. In addition, as noted in the General Policies section, power tools may not be used without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Students are not required to operate power tools.
  2. Never carry a portable power tool by the cord.
  3. Never yank the cord from an outlet. Disconnect it by pulling on the plug.
  4. Keep cords away from heat, oil, water, and sharp edges.
  5. Keep cords, hands and clothing away from moving parts of the tool (i.e., blades, bits, and cutters).
  6. Disconnect tools when not in use, before servicing, and before changing bits, blades and cutters.
  7. To avoid accidental starting, do not hold your finger on the switch while carrying a plugged in tool.
  8. Inspect tools and cords for damage and defects before each use.
  9. Do not use a damaged tool. Tag it and turn it in to a designated faculty or staff member.
  10. Do not remove, alter, or disable any guard or safety device on any power tool.
  11. Wear safety glasses or goggles when using any power tool.
  12. Wear ear protection when using loud power tools.
  13. All operators of power tools must be trained in proper use and safety of the tool prior to operating it.
  14. Allow the tool to reach full speed before use. Stay with it until it stops. Do not leave a running machine.
  15. Do not restart power tools until they have come to a complete stop.
  16. Inspect materials before use. Remove screws, nails, staples and the like before cutting into used woods.
  17. Make any necessary adjustments to power tools with the power turned off. Unplug portable tools before making adjustments.
  18. All special setups must be checked by a designated faculty or staff member before power is turned on.
  19. Stand to the side of the power tool when turning it on. Do not stand directly in line with the blade or other moving devices.
  20. Observe safety space. Only the operator is permitted within the working area around a machine.
  21. Keep the power tool and related work area clean.
  22. Repairs to shop power tools are only to be made by qualified shop staff.
  23. Do not wear large rings, jewelry, loose sleeves or anything that can become entangled in moving parts. Long hair must be tied back.

T. Props and Decoration

  1. The following materials are prohibited for use in the construction of scenery: rigid plastic foams (Styrofoam, foamcore board, polyurethane foam), flexible foams (flexible polyurethane, upholstery foams), cardboard, and any material that emits significant amounts of toxic vapors when heated.
  2. Stage properties are excepted from the above prohibition, provided that: (a) they are less than five feet tall; (b) they are used as properties during the performance; and (c) they are not present in significant quantities so as to present a hazard.
  3. Decorative materials (including, but not limited to, curtains, draperies, streamers, fabrics, cotton batting straw, hay, vines, leaves, stalks, tress, and moss) may be used only if they are noncombustible or flame resistant or have been rendered so with commercially available products.

U. Rigging

Rigging and running scenery for stage use can be a dangerous task. There are many hazards that can cause serious damage and/or injury. Weights are loaded above, scenery is constantly moving in or out, and obstructions are always present. All persons using or conducting other activities around or near any of the stage rigging systems must first be
trained in safe use and operation. In addition, as noted in the General Policies section, rigging may not be performed without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. Do not use the rigging system without proper training.
  2. Do not operate the rigging system unless you can see the moving objects or are in direct communication with a spotter who can see them.
  3. Be sure that loads are properly balanced. If loads are unbalanced, special procedures apply.
  4. Do not leave a line set while it is unlocked.
  5. Attachment of scenery to batten shall be done under the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member. Such attachments must be checked and double-checked.
  6. Loading weights shall be done under the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.
  7. When loading or unloading weights, the floor below must be clear of personnel before any weight is moved. A spotter is required at stage level to insure the floor remains clear while the operation is in progress. Sound off when starting, proceed only with the approval call from the flyperson or spotter, and sound off again when finished.
  8. When loading counterweights, place an anti-spreader plate at least every seventh weight. The minimum allowable spacing is two feet between spreader plates.
  9. When loading a batten, always load the batten first, the arbor second. The heavy side should be the low side.
  10. When unloading a batten, always unload the arbor first, the batten second.
  11. At all times other than performance conditions, sound off when moving a line set in or out.
  12. Do not move a line set without warning and receiving acknowledgement from persons working on the grid.
  13. If a line set runs away and is too heavy to safely stop, warn all present and take cover.
  14. The lock rail should be labeled with what is on each line set and what line set is not to move. Snub off any lineset that should not be moved.
  15. Test all running rigging before each performance or rehearsal.
  16. In a performance situation, only move lines on cue. Moving a line before a cue could cause severe injury or damage to persons and property on stage.
  17. Observe all spike marks.
  18. Remove any spike marks that are no longer in use.
  19. If you are unsure about any aspect of the rigging system, ask your a designated faculty or staff member.
  20. Properly dress and coil all lines at the pinrail.
  21. Always check for an unexpected load on purchase lines or “hemp” lines before unlocking/untying.

V. Storage of Materials

Consult with the Property Management Department or the Facility Manager of the space at issue for storage guidelines in specific Facilities.

W. Strike

As noted in the General Policies section, set deconstruction or strike may not be performed without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member. All items must be stored or disposed appropriately following the final performance, leaving the space at issue in pristine condition. In addition, set deconstruction or strike must be scheduled in advance by a designated faculty or staff member in consultation with Property Management Department.

X. Traps

Traps are sections of the stage floor that are removed to access the under stage area. An open trap is a hole in the floor and is dangerous to personnel and equipment. All personnel must use EXTREME CAUTION whenever a trap is open. Do not move quickly or carelessly on a stage with an open trap. As noted in the General Policies section, opening or closing of traps may not be performed without the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.

  1. A designated faculty or staff member must approve the use of a trap in advance.
  2. Traps shall be opened or closed only under the supervision of a designated faculty or staff member.
  3. The openings in the stage floor shall be promptly secured when not in use. These must be barricaded (fenced or roped off) or the cover put in place.
  4. Mark an open trap with large signs in addition to barricades.
  5. The barricades and warning signs may be removed during performances and rehearsals but must be replaced promptly upon completion of the performance or rehearsal, even if the theater is not in use.
  6. Before using any traps in rehearsal consult with a designated faculty or staff member about stability and other safety concerns.
  7. Have performers walk the set slowly to get acquainted with the space before the rehearsal begins.
  8. Mark the edges of the trap opening with glow tape to help prevent accidents during low light levels.
  9. Mount a red or blue light below the stage to define the opening. The light may be directed in such a manner that the audience does not see it, but those on stage will.


These Policies are drawn, in part, from publications of the Environmental Health and Safety Office of Princeton University, the Health and Safety Commission of USITT, and the Department of Theatre and Dance of the University of California, Davis.