The Toland Theatre scene shop is run by Department of Theatre
Arts, at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. The labor (you)
is provided by a mix of students fulfilling requirements for course
study in the Theater department and student employees of University
Productions. We usually provide support for four productions a year,
generally for the Theater Department.
During your time in the shop we hope to introduce you to the
tools, procedures and techniques used in scenic construction. Our
shop is set up very closely to that of a basic repertory theater
which you may encounter in the world outside academia. Therefore
your experience will be very similar to being employed in a regional
shop and should be of some educational value to you as a student
of the theater arts.
In this reading you will find some of the important safety guidelines
to be followed that help ensure a continued safe working environment
for all. Theater work, by nature, is physical, and the use
of power equipment is more dangerous than general classroom work.
However, if you use common sense and follow these safety procedures,
working in the shop and on stage will be fun and safe for you and
your classmates/fellow workers.
Please feel free to ask questions at any time. We are here to
teach you as well as support UW La Crosse productions. Again,
welcome. We hope you enjoy your experience in the shop.
The most obvious safety rule is to be careful. Pay attention
to what you are doing and do not rush. Repetitious jobs are more
likely to cause inattention. Try to avoid monotony and boredom.
Being careful means being careful all the time. You can be careful
for years and then get hurt in two seconds of inattention. This
is entirely under your own control. Being careful is your best defense
Avoid danger by using common sense. Some people accept a greater
risk of danger in order to work faster, more conveniently, etc.
Do not hurry and cut corners on safety. Some people take greater
risks because they have a strange notion of invulnerability, or
as a show of bravado. This will gain no respect for you in our shop.
Each power tool has its own set of safety rules. They are safe
when properly used, but they can cause serious accidents when misused.
You will be trained on each power tool before you use it. In general,
power tools have rotating parts that can wind you in like a fishing
reel if they catch on clothes, hair, or jewelry. Power tools can
throw debris at you, so eye or face protection is necessary. Ear
protection from loud noise is also often necessary. Make sure the
work surface and floors are clear, and get EVERYTHING ready before
you hit the ON switch.
Students may NEVER operate unguarded power tools.
Sometimes there is a strong temptation to remove safety guards when
they seem to complicate the work. If you think you need to do something
without the standard blade guard, stop and ask the staff. In cases
where a guard must be removed, a jig will be put in its place to
allow for safe operation of the saw and still provide adequate protection
to the user.
Pneumatic tools are power tools also. You must learn each one
before use. They also have safety guards, with the exception of
the smaller stapler. Do not ever defeat the safety or use the tools
in a manner they were not made for. (i.e., It is not a target gun!)
Hands are most susceptible to injury. Watch the cutting edge
of any tool, especially the power tools, and be aware of where your
hands are in relation to it. Pay attention and do not get distracted.
There is a dangerous temptation to hold parts together with one
hand while shooting pneumatic tools with the other. Sometimes staples
and nails turn inside the wood and poke out where you do not expect
them. This would seem elementary, but the number of bad cuts from
matte knives is incredible. Chisels fall into this category also.
The simple rule is to keep both hands behind the direction in which
the sharp edge is going and never pull a blade towards your body.
The shop will provide you with safety equipment. If you have
any questions or doubts, ask the Technical Director or Shop Staff.
Your safety is our concern. We will never knowingly put you in a
position to be over exposed to hazardous materials. We welcome questions
if you have any. We will attempt to explain things to you. Feel
free to request safety equipment. We are human; we might forget
and it is always better to be safe than sorry. Our goal is to make
you safe and comfortable when performing duties in the shop.
Ventilation is poor in the shop. We are continuously striving
to make improvements with our equipment (within our budgets) and
creating procedures for safe and alternate methods. Because this
is mainly a wood working shop, the use of dust masks may help prevent
some dust particles from getting in the nose. Note: These
are not for lung protection from vapors and fumes.
Paint solvents, adhesives, and welding produce toxic fumes. Do
not spray paint in the shop. Go outside (and use brown paper to
prevent over spray). For contact adhesive, turn on fans for better
ventilation. Spray adhesive and spray shoe dye are especially bad.
Welding is done with only the necessary people in the shop. Doors
must be opened and the large exhaust fan on. Then a box fan is used
near the work to pull the fumes from the work area. If possible,
a welding fume respirator should be used. The bright blue glare
from arc-welding is an eye hazard. A brief glance will not hurt,
but do not stare at it.
Working on ladders and scaffolds presents a potential for a
fall. If you must use a ladder, always have someone there to
foot and hold the bottom for you. Do not stand on the top or any
steps the safety labels indicate. Before you get on a ladder,
make sure that all four legs are firmly on the floor. Remember
not to leave tools and hardware or anything heavy on top of a
ladder. This will lead to the next person who moves the ladder
getting hit in the head by a falling object. When you are
working above on a ladder you must take extra precautions. You
need to be aware of overhead scenery and lighting instruments
and the electrical cable. Do not have loose items in pockets
that may fall and whenever possible, tools should be attached to
you. If you can't attach tools, extra precautions must be made
to keep people below aware of you and your work.
When you are the person responsible for raising and lowering scenery
or equipment it is your responsibility to make sure that people
are out of the way, that all hazards are cleared and that everyone
on stage knows that you are about to move something in or out (down
or up) on stage. This should be a loud verbal warning so all can
hear you over all other work going on at the time. "Line set
# 4 Coming in." This goes for lifting a bucket up to a scaffold
to moving a one ton wall on a counterweight batten. Yes, you must
watch the rope you are pulling and the object that it is moving
at the same time.
Natural fiber ropes age and wear, so do not trust them completely.
Do not use any rope or hardware or cable that is worn or in questionable
condition to fly anything that is heavy or could lead to a hazardous
situation. We do not want to endanger the lives of anyone. If you
have a question always ask someone who knows.
Whenever you are to work on the grid loading deck or any other
overhead platform, all tools must be secured so they can't fall.
Loose change and items in your pockets can cause serious injury
if dropped from thirty feet. They should be removed before you ascend.
You are responsible to make sure the people working beneath you
know you are above them, and whenever possible they should be cleared
from the area. If by chance an accident occurs and you do drop something,
you should yell "HEADS!"
Do this clear and loud so people know where the warning is coming
from and can scatter out of the way of danger. If you are below
and hear "heads" yelled, get out of the freaking way. Do not let
curiosity get the best of you and look up to see what is falling.
This may lead to your face getting up close and personal with a
stage weight and could cause serious injury or death.
If you need to work above in an area that does not provide railings
and there is a possibility of a fall that could cause injury, you
must wear proper fall protection equipment. You should also be trained
in the correct use of this equipment.
Stage lift (elevators) is found in the forestage of Toland Theatre.
This is a large and dangerous piece of equipment. It has the capability
of snapping a large piece of a set in half and could easily shear
off a foot or crush someone to death. This lift should only be operated
by trained individuals. You should obey all written and verbal instructions
This is where a lot of dangerous work goes on in a short amount
of time. Make sure you are aware of all the things going on around
you. The fast work pace and the extra enthusiasm you will find does
not change the need to pay attention and follow all the rules for
working in the theater and with power tools. Pay extra attention
to nails in wood and debris on the floor.
Report all accidents to the faculty/staff person in charge.
911 Life Threatening
9-9999 Other Emergencies
5-8000 Assistance & Information
There is a phone in the Technical Director’s office. There is a
phone in the control booth.
Things you can do to be of help if an accident or emergency occurs.
Theatre office: 608.785.6701
Box office: 608.785.8522
154 Center for the Arts
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University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
1725 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601, USA
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