December 2014

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December 2014


S&H Commission to Launch Mentoring Project at 2015 Conference

David Glowacki Safety & Health Commissioner

After testing the waters with a pilot program in Fort Worth, Texas last March, the Safety & Health Commission will officially launch its Safety Mentoring Project at the Cincinnati 2014 Conference & Stage Expo.

As has happened in the rest of the world, the world of live entertainment has changed dramatically (pardon the pun) over the last several decades. Venues have changed, casts and crews have changed, and audiences have changed. The world is more 24/7; the hustle and bustle never seems to take an intermission, which means those in entertainment technology can't either.

Neither can safety. There have been some well documented safety issues in full view of audiences, the public as a whole, and in some cases, government agencies. Safety has become more than a buzzword in the industry and the old adage "this is how we've always done it" doesn't cut it any more.

  • "What do you mean we can't block a fire extinguisher, and there's an annual inspection?"
  • "You can't stand on the top two rungs of a ladder? Since when?"
  • "What do we do in the event of an evacuation?"
  • "What the #$%^ is an IIPP?"
  • "PPE is what now?"

According to press reports, more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer some form of mentoring to their employees. That's a lot of knowledge sharing going on! At the 2014 Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Fort Worth, the Safety & Health Commission initiated a pilot version of the Safety Mentoring Project. Hoping to attract four or five mentees, the Commission found itself with 10 folks interested in learning more about safety and health in live entertainment and was happy to include them all. They were entry level professionals, students, and mid-level professionals looking for more guidance. They were from college backgrounds, public theatres, and private production organizations. They all had one important thing in common: recognition that they needed more safety and health knowledge to effectively do their jobs and advance their careers.

Three mentors, safety professionals with varying backgrounds and experience, came together to share from their wealth of knowledge and lead the project. All three had one thing in common; their primary job responsibility centered on safety and health within the world of live entertainment.

It was a safe space where no question was off limits. It was an opportunity for seasoned safety professionals to share some ups and downs, the paths they took to get to where they are now, and general safety knowledge.

One mentee, Josh Scherr (Dallas) said "As an experienced production manager, safety and health has always been a part of my portfolio, but as we produce at a more complex level, more focus on the wellbeing of our colleagues is required. Better solutions are needed. I have always made an effort to share my knowledge selflessly, for the next set of theatre practitioners. To now have seasoned safety and health professionals sharing information with me in the same way has proved to be invaluable.

"The real world expertise and ongoing guidance that has been provided via the Safety & Health Mentoring Project has allowed me to increase the level of safety and wellbeing for all of my venues and productions. Regulations and procedures can be excruciatingly complex, and our unique environments can be challenging. To have an advisor and sounding board that has waded through the complexities and come out the other end with creative solutions is a necessity in this industry, and is welcome in the world of professional theater."

As it gears up for Cincinnati, the Safety & Health Commission is looking for safety professionals interested in volunteering their time and expertise to serve as mentors, and for people seeking more safety and health knowledge who would appreciate being mentored. Anyone interested in either opportunity can send an e-mail to

In the spirit of sharing knowledge- for those that don't already know- an IIPP is an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (or I2P2 as OSHA has been referring to it). It is already a requirement in some states (California among them) and several national companies/businesses have already adapted the program to suit their needs. The OSHA Fact Sheet can be found here.