A recent aerial circus accident involving a potential equipment failure brings to mind a fatal equipment-related circus accident that took place in Minnesota 10 years ago.
In this more recent workplace accident, three performers remain in a hospital in critical condition, suffering from their workplace injuries. The accident has triggered an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration involving the question of whether unsafe workplace safety standards played a part in this accident.
Although we ordinarily associate the circus with entertainment and not work, many circus companies are employers like any other, and as such they are subject to laws and regulations governing workplace safety.
Given the suspenseful and spectacular nature of some circus entertainment acts, which can place circus employees in inherently dangerous situations--high off of the ground or near exotic animals--the need for proper safety policies, procedures and equipment is especially apparent.
In the case at hand, the parent company of the circus company has--aside from the earlier accident that happened in Minnesota--already been flagged by OSHA for two other workplace safety related incidents, although both were apparently minor. One netted the company a small fine and the other did not result in a monetary penalty.
After any workplace accident, it is important to determine the cause. However, injured workers are likely to be entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits regardless of the cause of a workplace injury. If the accident was caused by the negligence of a third-party, and this may be the case when defective safety equipment is involved, a civil lawsuit may also be in order. These are complicated issues and as such injured workers and their loved ones often benefit from legal guidance.
Source: KSDK, “Failed clamp blamed in circus disaster,” John Bacon and Marisol Bello, May 5, 2014