Rigging is a niche career path, for sure – but it is essential for a great variety of industries and disciplines. From construction sites to power plants, from manufacturing lines to theatre sets and studio lots, good riggers are nothing short of essential.
While a rigger’s main job description includes the skilled manoeuvre of heavy and awkward materials using a range of complex systems and equipment, their responsibilities certainly do not stop here. Rigging is a job that requires rigorous training, owing to the sheer risk associated with the task – not only to riggers but also to everyone else on site. As such, health and safety concerns should take centre stage in rigging practice. But what exactly are the tenets of rigging health and safety?
Induction is a key part of site safety, being the central method by which site attendees are made aware of the processes and protocols relevant to their safety. As a rigger contracted to a given site, you will receive an induction to said site from the manager or foreman responsible.
Uniquely, you may be placed to give your own induction to other site workers, regarding the specifics of your rigging work and the dangers they bring. Largely, though, induction is there to alert workers and visitors to safety provisions and wider site rules.
Personal protective equipment is a staple provision in any work site or location, owing to health and safety laws enshrining workers’ rights to accessing appropriate equipment at no personal cost. As a rigger, you need to be supplied with your own PPE to facilitate the safe undertaking of your work.
Such PPE takes the form of protective gloves that provide adequate grip for heavy lifting and protect against rope burn when tying off loads. Safety boots are also essential, to minimise crush risks where loads could fall and harm your feet.
Being a rigger requires keeping strong situational awareness, as well as understanding the physics of each lift or mount. Each site on which you work will have its own extant hazards, which will differ in type and presentation. For example, a location shoot for a film might see you rigging near a water source or on uneven ground, and with live electrical wires relatively exposed. On a construction site, risks of falling from height are increased, as are crush risks from other construction materials.
Of course, site risk assessments aim to identify, mitigate and otherwise signpost these hazards anyway. Sites of all kinds will utilise safety signage to highlight dangerous areas, from live electrics to trip hazards and areas in which moving equipment is in operation. As a rigger, you should be aware of your equipment and practice’s own impact on on-site safety in this way, and adequately signpost load, falling objects or lines-under-tension risks.
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