Indiana stage collapse: Company, fair commission, union are fined
After an investigation of last summer’s deadly stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair, Indiana workplace officials have cited the company that built the stage, the state commission that runs the fair, and the union that worked at the site for a variety of shortcomings.
The report was prepared by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the Indiana Department of Labor, which released the report Wednesday.
The agency levied fines against all three entities for their roles in the Aug. 13 collapse of the outdoor stage during a powerful storm. The country duo Sugarland was performing when the stage went down, killing seven people and injuring 58.
The largest fine was levied against the company in charge of building the stage. Mid-America Sound Corp. was given three violations for acting with “indifference” by failing to provide appropriate supervision and by failing to develop a risk assessment plan. The total fine was $63,000.
“The evidence demonstrated that the Mid-America Sound Corp. was aware of the appropriate requirements and demonstrated a plain indifference to complying with those requirements,” Labor Commissioner Lori Torres told reporters during a telephone news conference.
Mid-America did not immediately respond to a telephone call for comment.
The State Fair Commission, the state body that runs the fair, was fined $6,300.
“The State Fair Commission failed to have conducted an adequate life safety evaluation and plan prior to the event,” Torres said. “The commission simply did not establish and maintain conditions of work for its employees that were reasonably safe and free from recognized hazards.”
Also cited was Local 30 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Theatrical Payroll Services Inc., which was fined $11,500. Torres said the union “clearly acted as an employer” at the site -- a contention with which the union disagreed and said it would appeal.
“We aren’t the employer,” John F. Baldwin, the business representative of Local 30, said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “We were acting under their supervision,” he said of the state agency. “They supervise us through one of their sub-contractors.”
Baldwin said nine of his members were among the injured and two remain in serious condition and unable to return to work. Stagehand Nathan Byrd was among those killed during the accident.
The state OSHA cited the union for failing to consider soil conditions when placing cable anchor points for the grandstand stage. The OSHA report investigated workplace violations but was not aimed at determining what caused the collapse.
State officials have hired two out-of-state companies to review the accident and the state's emergency response. Those reports are pending.
Torres said among the problems was that fair officials didn't have an adequate plan for evacuating the area as the severe storm approached.
“Plan or no plan, the wind blew over the stage structure,” she said. “It was their duty to evacuate in a timely” manner.
-- Michael Muskal
Video: Sugarland pays tribute to stage collapse victims.