Stage Collapse at Fair Could Lead to New Laws

Following the devastating Indiana State Fair stage collapse that resulted in five deaths and dozens of injuries, new regulation by the state is being considered.

 

The collapse happened Saturday, August 13, at about 9:50 p.m., shortly before the headlining band Sugarland was scheduled to take stage. In light of a serious series of thunderstorms that had suddenly appeared, evacuation was being considered, and the announcement had been made to the crowd. Unfortunately, before definitive action could take place, wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour sent the stage, including scaffolding and speakers, crashing down into the crowd.

 

Currently, no regulatory process is in place to check the safety or maintenance for any kind of outdoor stage or scaffolding. According to a spokesman from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, constructing scaffolding has no permitting process, inspection requirements or even need for safety records. Upon hearing of the lack of regulation and oversight, Governor Mitch Daniels expressed his surprise and concern and encouraged lawmakers to support and pass legislation.

 

While Daniels commented that over-regulation could lead to inspectors being required for every small scaffolding project, he also considered this to be a learning process and said that it was reasonable for a large-scale construction, like an amphitheater stage, to require inspections and, perhaps, certification.

 

Although the legislative committee that is responsible for oversight of the fair was scheduled to meet this week, the meeting was postponed due to the tragedy. Investigators are currently working to determine the full cause of the collapse and what factors led to the horrific accident, and members of the committee will determine what action should be taken once the investigators have reached their conclusion.

 

When asked about the current climate of the state legislature, State Sen. Jim Merritt of Indianapolis commented that despite having a decided anti-regulation bent, the legislature remains pro-safety and pro-security. He also promised that this issue would be receiving a great deal of scrutiny in the upcoming session.

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