When Minnesota residents watch the wonders of a circus performance and marvel at the athleticism of acrobats, they may not stop to consider these performers as workers on the job. However, entertaining thousands is the daily job of these acrobats and dancers. This profession is especially known for its high-risk environment. Nevertheless, it is still the duty of circus employers to provide workers with a safe working environment where they are not exposed to hazards, which could be avoided given the proper safety precautions.
During a recent performance out-of-state, eight Ringling Bros. circus acrobats were injured on the job during a fall. At the time of the accident, the eight acrobats were suspended over 20 feet in the air, on a metal-framed apparatus forming a human chandelier.
According to a news article, the investigators believe this workplace accident is attributable to a defective clamp that was improperly installed; however, it is too early in the investigation for any final conclusions to be drawn.
In addition to local authorities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will lead the investigation. Additionally, the circus company will conduct their own investigation to find out what happened as well.
When the performers fell, the metal frame supporting them crashed down on top of them. During the fall, several audience members were also injured. There were over 3,000 people in the audience during the circus performance. Currently, reports have stated that two performers are in critical condition at a nearby hospital while three more were reported in serious condition. Fortunately, the rest of the performers were reported in good condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
As at any job, it is an employer’s obligation to their workers to ensure a safe and healthful environment for their workers, free from harm. Those who are injured on the job may benefit from legal counsel.
Source: The Detroit News, "Authorities: Clamp snapped in Ringling Bros. circus accident," Michelle R. Smith, May 5, 2014