Ringling Bros. Agrees to New Safety Protocols

OSHA announced the settlement agreement on Thursday

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has agreed to some new safety protocols aimed at preventing an incident like the one that injured eight acrobats last year in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the settlement agreement on Thursday. The Providence Journal reports that the circus is scheduled to return to Providence next week for the first time since last year's accident.

"This agreement goes beyond this one case. It commits Ringling Bros. to continual, effective and detailed corrective action that will address and enhance safety for all its aerial acts, so that catastrophic incidents, such as the Providence fall and the needless worker injuries that resulted, never happen again," said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's area director in Rhode Island.

Under the settlement, the circus agreed to take the following actions on an ongoing basis:

  • All new and existing aerial acts will be reviewed by a registered professional engineer.
  • For each act, assemble and provide to each circus unit a technical book.
  • Develop a written checklist for equipment and hardware inspections for each act.
  • Each circus unit will conduct an annual safety day that will address employee safety topics.
  • The circus will also pay the full OSHA fine and submit documentation that the hazard has been corrected and preventive measures put in place.

The circus was fined $7,000 by OSHA back in November for the hair-hanging stunt. It was the maximum fine allowed by law.

The acrobats were injured on May 4, 2014, when investigators say a carabiner clip snapped, sending them plummeting 15 feet to the floor. A ninth worker, who was on the ground, was also hurt.

OSHA said the carabiner was improperly overloaded in violation of industry practice and manufacturer instructions.

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