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- Posted on Nov 19th 2012 1:59PM by Jason MacNeil
Some 19 "failings" under the Occupational Health and Safety act were found after the stage collapsed in high winds, injuring three people.
According to the Ottawa Citizen -- who received the provincial ministry of labour report under a freedom of information request -- Groupe Berger failed to safely protect its stage hands. The report, which comes in two portions written by a Health and Safety Inspector (Jason Gordon) and an engineer (Robert Molina), added that no inspection was conducted by a licensed Ontario engineer during the stage's construction nor following the collapse of the stage.
Molina also noted that the destruction from the high winds could have been alleviated or avoided had the stage's side or rear wind walls been removed when the winds picked up speed, even up to gusts of 120 kilometers per hour.
"The wind loads exerted on the stage as a result of not moving the side and rear walls exceeded the design parameters," Molina said. "Had the side and rear walls been removed as required at 80 km/h the stage would have resisted a wind event of 117km/h."
Other irregularities included no operating manual for removing these wind walls as "it was never provided to the Ministry of Labour."
While not pointing fingers directly at festival organizers, the report added that high winds during a Black Keys performance earlier in the festival played a pivotal role in what would later transpire. At the time of the Black Keys gig, stage hands removed pressure on the stage by simply cutting zip-ties or Bungee strips.
"When the walls were secured after this event they were secured using a different method, including the use of cable ties. This caused a change in the procedure for release of the wind walls (no longer able to cut with knives)." Witnesses added that these cable ties were unable to be released as stage hands couldn't cut or sever them.
"Groupe Berger failed as an employer to take reasonable precaution of releasing the wind walls despite being aware of the forecast for damaging winds, therefore failing to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker," the report said.
Molina also noted several other irregularities from the use of incorrect bolts used in the stage construction to having fewer bolts required to secure columns, stating these weren't direct causes but "demonstrates poor workmanship in the assembly of the stage."
Neither the festival organizers nor Groupe Berger commented on the findings. In July 2012 it was announced that no charges would be laid regarding the stage collapse. Following the incident Cheap Trick refused to perform at any festival or concert where Groupe Berger were in charge of building the stage.
Cheap Trick, who are touring as a support act for Aerosmith, made no comment regarding the report's findings.
The Ottawa stage collapse in 2011 was tragically followed with another disaster in June 2012 at Toronto's Downsview Park when a drum technician for Radiohead, Scott Johnson, was killed when the stage collapsed. An investigation is still ongoing into what transpired there. Radiohead was forced to cancel several dates due to its stage equipment and gear getting destroyed in the incident which took place hours before the band was to perform.