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Risk Management On A Wire

 
The Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released the results of the investigation into the death of Cirque du Soleil performer Sarah Guillot-Guyard.  The accident occurred during the final scene of “Ka” at the MGM Grand in Vegas on June 29th, when the wire holding 31-year-old Guillot-Guyard was severed and she fell 94 feet.  She died en route to the hospital from ‘multiple blunt force trauma.’  
 
During the mock battle scene, performers are suspended in the air on lines controlled by wireless remote controls.  Guillot-Guyard’s line came out of its pulley and scraped against a ‘shear point,’ severing it.  OSHA cited the cause as her ‘rapid ascent,’ saying that Cirque du Soleil had not trained her properly, and had failed to adequately protect employees working on the show.  
 
There are six total citations against Cirque, with fines over $25,000.  The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino has also been cited, on three counts for penalties of $7,000 for exposing their employees to hazards caused by oversights by Cirque.  
 
Both companies will appeal.  A statement from Cirque du Soleil stated:  “We have redoubled our efforts to ensure the overall diligence and safety of our performers and crew.”  The production company is known for its high safety and training standards.  
 
Michel Rodrigue (in charge of risk management) of Cirque talked about this prior to the accident (Steve Yahn, Risk & Insurance.com):  
 
‘It (safety) is deeply rooted in our corporate culture, and to be honest the concern for the artists’ health and safety takes precedence over any artistic endeavor or business decision….Over the years we have established working methods that ensure the artists’ work is done in highly controlled environments, day in and day out, in order to effectively manage performance risk for our 1,300 artists.’  
In 30 years, through many different shows and performances around the world, this was the first fatal accident to occur during a Cirque performance.  According to the Los Angeles Times, a performer died in Montreal after sustaining head injuries from falling off a trampoline during training. 
 
Cirque du Soleil has dazzled us with amazing acrobatics and stunts that make you gasp out loud for the performers.  They make it look easy – but isn’t part of the allure realizing that something could go wrong?     
 
November 7, 2013 update on this story:  Cirque du Soleil racked up another blemish on its safety record, when a male performer in the Las Vegas show 'Zarkana' slipped off the 'Wheel of Death' last Friday, November 1.  The company's policy is not to release names of injured artists (unless they are pronounced dead) but the word got out via social media that the performer was Junior Delgado, who underwent surgery on his leg and was in stable condition by Saturday morning.  Delgado and the other artists who perform on the wheel have been doing it for generations.  The level of difficulty is so high that Cirque has put this part of the show on hold and replaced it with a different act until the original artists can return to the stage.
 
 

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