Stagehands are often Jacks-of-all-trades. They may have to act as carpenters, electricians, riggers, and/or engineers. They run multiple systems during production or filming. Additionally, stagehands are usually responsible for equipment maintenance and repair. These savvy manual material handlers are the backbone of many productions including:
- Other events that needs stages or sets While there are several serious risks to anyone involved in a major production, like electrocution or being struck by a falling object, an ongoing health concern for stagehands are a variety of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Work-related MSDs most often show up in people whose jobs require manual material handling. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics identifies industries like nursing and manufacturing as being most at risk for these injuries. Looking at the responsibilities of stagehands, we can see that they easily do as much manual labor as manufacturers and nursing professionals.
Stagehands go by many names depending on their job duties. Some of the things they do include:
Build and move sets and stages: Even if a stagehand isn’t acting as a carpenter and actually building a structure, he may have to haul materials like lumber and tools to the set. Unless stages or sets are fixed, a stagehand will also have to move them in-between scenes, set lists, or shows. These can get quite heavy, so there is a lot of pushing and pulling as well as heavy lifting. A stagehand will also tear down a set when it is no longer needed.
Stagehands may also carry in and set up furniture, props, and background displays for sets.
Transport and set up lighting and sound systems: Building and set-up are two major responsibilities of stagehands, and that can include transporting large lights, lighting controllers, speakers, microphones, and sound systems. Again, this is very laborious work that involves repetitive lifting, carrying, reaching, bending, twisting, pushing and pulling. All of these movements are identified as those that cause chronic MSDs.
Load and unload trucks and trailers: If a show travels, like a concert, expo, boat show, and the like, stagehands often travel with the production. Then they are in charge not only of setting up and tearing down stages and sets; they also have to load and unload everything onto and off of a truck or trailer. Stagehands can have to lift tens of thousands pounds doing this. Again, this work is always repetitive which the secret ingredient in work-related MSDs.
A hefty portion of a stagehand’s responsibility includes heavy lifting as well as pushing and pulling. These are the kinds of jobs that cause damage to people’s backs, shoulders and wrists. A person’s level of physical fitness doesn’t prevent him from injuring himself; it is the work being done that causes the harm. Here are some common MSDs that manual material handlers report:
Back pain: This is definitely one of the most common umbrellas of MSDs, and absolutely caused by lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling. There are so many different types of back injuries that can occur. These are usually the most debilitating, and they can be the most costly to remedy.
Many people have a loss of freedom or quality of life because of back pain and injuries; back problems should be avoided at all costs.
Some common back MSDs include:
- Strains (to muscles)
- Sprains (to ligaments)
- Herniated discs
- Pinched nerves
- Disc degeneration
Rotator cuff injuries: Tears and strains happen to the muscles and tendons holding together the most moveable joint in the body. These injuries are not only painful, but they also weaken the shoulder. Again, this can debilitate anyone who does manual labor.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: This occurs when the median nerve that runs through the carpal tunnel of the wrist is compressed. It causes pain and numbness in the wrist, hand, and fingers. Carpal tunnel release is one of the most common surgical procedures in the US.
This is just a sample of a long list of MSDs that manual material handlers suffer every year. So what kind of solution will help the stagehand with his labor?
The biggest concerns are the heavy lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling. If you can eliminate a lot of that, the body won’t be as exposed to injury risks. One way to do that is with a power tug.
Power tugs (or tuggers) are battery-operated, walk-behind machines that hitch onto anything with wheels. Models vary to handle different load sizes generally ranging from 1,000 to 50,000 pounds. The handle on a tug like a Load Mover has speed control as well as a safety belly switch. Any adult stagehand can operate a Load Mover safely and easily. The machine provides all the muscle of pushing and pulling.
While the tug doesn’t lift objects, using a cart attached to a tug to transport heavy items will eliminate a lot of carrying. Lights, equipment, tools, and props can all be effortlessly transported throughout a stage. Tuggers can pull furniture, too, if it is on wheels or on a platform with wheels. Removing any laborious or repetitive activity will spare the body of a lot of physical strain. Stagehands can save a lot of energy using a power tug that they later need for heavy lifting. Once a stagehand sees how easy it is to move objects with a tug, he may come up with other ways to put it to use. This happens a lot when manufacturers add power tugs to their operations.
No matter what the solution, stagehands need ergonomic intervention just as much as any other manual material handler who ranks highly on injury statistics. To see whether a Load Mover is the right equipment for you, search this site or contact our friendly staff via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 952-767-1720.