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Author Topic: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues  (Read 7172 times)

Jonathan Johnson

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Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« on: December 02, 2013, 06:06:38 pm »

Throughout this forum, any time there is a discussion of something that involves safety issues, whether it is rigging, electrical, or something else, there are two or three schools of thought:
  • If you're not trained, licensed, bonded, and insured to do that kind of work, hire someone who is.
  • If you're smart, you can probably do it yourself.
  • And a combination of the above: You should probably hire someone who is properly trained, but if that's not an option here's how to do it yourself.
As for myself, I am not licensed, bonded, or insured to do electrical work. But I have been in the construction industry, exposed to proper electrical installations, it's something I'm deeply interested in, I've learned all I can on my own and when I have a question I seek the answer from reputable sources. I've seen a lot of hack jobs; I've looked back at stuff I've done years ago and shuddered. My primary reason for doing it myself is economics. I have the skills to do it properly; my AHJ allows me to do it myself (limited to my own property); and I enjoy it.

However, I will not do it for hire, and I won't do it on property not owned by me or an immediate family member. I draw the line there for my own liability.

Nevertheless, I know that there are people out there who, for the same reasons I cite for myself, want to do things for themselves. As a community, I believe we have a responsibility to help those people understand what is and is not safe work and installation practices. The information we provide helps them understand:
  • Whether they have the capability and confidence to do it themselves or to hire a professional;
  • Whether something they have done by a professional is done correctly or not; and
  • How to do it correctly if they ultimately do decided to do it themselves.
I think that cautioning people to hire a professional for any work that involves life/safety is wise. However, since this is an international audience, we should recognize that much of the developing world does not have access to true professionals in every field, and in many countries there are no standards, codes, or inspections, and the knowledge to do things correctly is nearly impossible to gain without the Internet.

Therefore, I think we should be willing to give advice on correctly installing and working in fields involving life/safety issues -- with the caution that we are not professionals (unless we are) and that we recommend it be done by trained professionals. If all we say is "hire a professional" they may leave in a huff and do it themselves and we've gained nothing. If we give good advice with appropriate reasons and cautions, we've helped make the world a safer place. If nothing else, it gives people an understanding of what they're asking for when they do engage with a professional.

Of course, we can only cite general principles, accepted norms, and codes; a forum such as this is no place to engage in engineering.
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Stop confusing the issue with facts and logic!

Cailen Waddell

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Re: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2013, 06:19:39 pm »

If I reccomend how to rig something, someone does it, and it fails because I didn't know something key about the space I can be sued. I may be personally liable. This is the reason many people say hire a professional with life safety issues.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2013, 06:47:16 pm »

The problem is that in many cases, the necessary knowledge is far greater than can be communicated in a forum post or two. People want a procedure when what is required is understanding. Couple that with the attitude of at least one poster in this section who advertises his willingness to perform shortcuts in the name of "the show must go on", and hopefully you see the reason for the reluctance to give a 3-step plan.

I disagree that it is better to give a little advice such that a person can marginally but incompletely improve a situation. In many cases, they're just exchanging one problem for another, and no one wins.

Some folks need to realize that bringing 30,000 watts of amplifiers to a 50-cap bar is ridiculous.  For the folks who really care, having an electrician install a range plug in venues for a few hundred dollars makes the world safer for everybody. There are lots of ways to amortize this cost if necessary.
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Steve M Smith

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Re: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2013, 07:06:10 pm »

Qualified does not always mean competent.


Steve.
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Lyle Williams

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Re: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2013, 07:15:18 am »

We should not encourage unsafe/illegal behaviour.

I 100% agree with the procedure vs understanding comment.  A little information allows people to stick their necks out further.

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Cailen Waddell

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Re: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2013, 07:42:49 am »

Perhaps the middle ground, which I think already happens for the most part, with, for example rigging, is to not just say hire a professional, but say

1. Have your system designer designate a place for the speakers

2. Have your structural engineer determine if and how structure can support that load, if it can't go back to step 1. If it can have structural engineer design a support assembly that meets the needs of the system designer

3.  Have your rigger hang speakers in designated location using assembly specified by structural engineer.

4.  Point out that hiring a qualified system integrator would be best because they generally come with access to or recommendations for all these resources.

People in countries without these resources?  What can I say about general practice that isn't already written in any number of books?  Reading the books promotes understanding of the concepts and not just a procedure which is the end goal I would hope anyway.  The above explains the steps to take but doesn't say what to do specifically.

I think the truth of the matter (at least for the rural south of the US - and I grew up here so I feel I can say this) is some Bubba's daddy hung their speakers with some chain laying around the farm by their handles, and it ain't falled yet, so it must be ok. It's a deep ignorance.  Or the stage that blew over outside of Charlotte earlier this year - none of those people think they did anything wrong.  The AHJ, doesn't, the promoter didn't. Their thought is: well that dang weather just came up outa nowhere, y'all just can't plan for weather. Sometimes things just fall.   But perhaps I digress. 

When people come seeking help, then they know enough to know they don't know, which is a great first step. We should tell them the right way to do things (even if the answer is to hire a qualified professional). To do any less would disrespect them for asking in the first place. If we all have to do some explaining and cajoling to get them to understand, then, that's the price of educating someone and making the world a better place.
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Frank DeWitt

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Re: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2013, 07:20:47 pm »

There is another reason to get good advice.  If you become knowledgeable about a subject then you can tell if you are hiring a trained professional who knows what they are doing.   Many Many Many people have hired trained professionals to specify and install sound systems who did not know what they were doing.   

Found this week on another forum with regard to a discussion about hum and ground loops. 

"I've done dozens, maybe 100s, of sound installs for churches and clubs.

 First thing I do is put every piece of grounded equipment on a two to three wire ground adapter (ground lift)

 Does that eliminate the hum? If so, I put each piece of equipment back grounded, one at a time, until the hum comes back.Realistically only ONE component needs to be grounded, the ground will transfer to every other piece through shielded cables."

Note, he has done this before, he is a professional.
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John Moore

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Re: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2013, 10:39:14 pm »

that is most likely how people get electrocuted and severely shocked...total FAIL
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Lyle Williams

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Re: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2013, 01:58:53 am »

Ever wonder how regulated trades come about?

Zap enough people and only electricians will be allowed to wire up PAs.  The audio side too.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2013, 09:18:12 am »

Ever wonder how regulated trades come about?

Zap enough people and only electricians will be allowed to wire up PAs.  The audio side too.

Do a gig in Chicago's McCormick Place.  The Teamsters will unload your truck.  The IATSE stagehands will move and set your gear, but the IBEW electricians run and hook up all wires.  ALL wires.



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Re: Two (or three) schools of thought: life/safety issues
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2013, 09:18:12 am »


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