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Theatre Safety Guidelines

Collin College Theatre desires to maintain a safe environment for its employees, students, academic appointees, and visitors. This guideline sets forth operating procedures and practices to help maintain theater and stage environments in a safe and compliant manner.

Collin Theatre shall provide all faculty, staff, student-employees, students, and volunteers training in safety and use of hand and power tools, equipment, and accessories for lighting, rigging, audio, painting and construction activities, or any other activities that might take place in the work environment. Collin Theatre will provide personal protective equipment (PPE).

Safety hazards can usually be prevented by staying alert, maintaining a clean environment and asking questions when the answer isn’t obvious. “Horse play” will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Use of Production Facilities

1. A member of the Theatre Staff or Instructor must be present when any counterweight system or rigging work is being done.

2. Theatre Staff or a qualified student worker must be present when scenery props or costumes are being built, moved, or struck.

3. The Technical Director or a qualified member of the Theatre Technical Staff or Theatre Instructor must be present for all technical rehearsals.

4. All staff and students operating power or hand tools must have completed a safety orientation administered by a Theatre Instructor or Staff Member. Records verifying completion of this training must be maintained by the Theatre Staff.

5. All staff and students participating in crew or a production must be given a theatre safety orientation prior to the start of technical rehearsals. The Theatre Staff coordinates all safety training and maintains all associated records.

6. Any injury requiring first aid or other medical treatment must be reported to the Theatre Staff immediately. See Collin College Accident Reporting and Investigation Guideline for procedures on how to handle and report accidents.,,   For any first aid administered in the theatre, first aid kits are provided. All company members are reminded that at no time should individuals come in contact with another person’s blood or other bodily fluids.

7. Smoking is prohibited in all buildings.

8. Food and drink other than water in a bottle with a cap, are prohibited in all theatres and control booths.

9. Participants are urged to think safety at all times. Failure to follow the safety rules could result in serious injury or death. Do not take chances. If in doubt, ask a Theatre Staff member. If a procedure or situation in the shop or theatre seems dangerous, ask a Theatre Staff before beginning any activities. Report all unsafe conditions to a Theatre Staff member and consult the Fine Arts Division Office if the situation is not addressed.

Air Quality and Safe Working Practices
Air quality in the shop and stage areas can vary depending on several conditions. These conditions include, but are not limited to: dust from power tools, mists from water based latex and acrylic pants, chemical and CO2 based fogs from fog machines.

1. When excessive wood dust is present in the air from operating machinery, always use a particle mask. The Theatre Staff is responsible for supplying masks.

2. Latex and acrylic paints are water based paint and are typically of low toxicity. Refer to the SDS (MSDS) for specific hazards and PPE required for the paint being used. When these paints are sprayed, a fine mist can occur. Wear a particle mask when spraying or when in an area where spraying is taking place. All areas where paints are being sprayed will require appropriate ventilation.

3. Chemical based theatrical fogs are not harmful in normal concentrations. Do not exceed limits of concentration on the SDS (MSDS). See "D. Chemicals, Hazards and Safe Working Practices" of this guideline for more information on the SDS.

Chemicals and Safe Working Practices
Chemicals are used in the scene shop and stage areas, consult the SDS (MSDS) for proper handling and hazards of each specific chemical.

1. Know what is being worked with. It is up to the user to read the SDS (MSDS) on each chemical before using it.

2. Wear the proper protective clothing and equipment for the job.

3. Prevent ingestion of chemicals. Wash hands frequently. Do not eat, drink, smoke, or apply lip balm around chemicals.

4. Keep workplace clean and free of debris.

5. Solvents such as paint thinner, lacquer thinner, alcohol, and acetone must be used in well ventilated areas and stored in flammable storage cabinets when not in use.

6. Spray paints must be used in well ventilated areas. See Theatre Staff for disposal of empty spray cans.

7. A particle mask rated for spraying latex and/or acrylic paint is required when spraying latex and acrylic paints.

8. Protective gloves must be worn when handling chemicals, including dry ice. If gloves or any other personal protective equipment does not fit properly, or becomes damaged, contact the Theatre Staff, immediately discard the damaged equipment and replace with new, clean equipment. Damaged PPE should never be reused for any reason.

9. Eye protection must be worn when handling chemicals, including dry ice.

10. Open flame is not permitted when working with chemicals.

11. In case of a chemical spill, notify the Theatre Staff.

12. Waste chemicals must be disposed of properly. See the shop Theatre Staff for questions on proper disposal.

13. SDS (MSDS) are to be maintained on file in the Scene Shop C146 or Costume Shop C142 or another public access area for all chemicals in use.

14. Flammable chemicals are to be stored in safety cans and in properly labeled flammable storage cabinets.

Electricity and Safe Working Practices
Only qualified and trained individuals will work with the electrical equipment utilized in the shop and stage areas.

1. Electrical rigging is to be performed only by trained lighting crew members and under Theatre Staff or Instructor supervision.

2. Only properly grounded tools, cords, and equipment may be used.

3. Never run extension cords across doorways, walkways, room divisions, through windows, or holes in walls or floors if not taped down or secured.

4. Check all equipment and cords for damage before use.

5. Remove damaged equipment from use and notify Theatre Staff.

6. Be alert for extension cords on the floor and in work areas.

7. Do not overload extension cords.

8. Be aware of overhead and floor mounted lighting fixtures and power cables in stage areas.

9. All shop, stage, ladder, lift, and rigging rules apply to electrical safety.

10.Heat resistant, gloves should be worn when focusing lighting equipment .

11. Safety lines should be attached to wrenches and tools when working overhead.

12. Hard hats shall be worn when persons are working overhead, when battens are being rigged at deck level or the hazard of a possible falling object or impact point(s) exist in the work area.

13. Rings, jewelry, watches, etc. should not be worn when working with lighting equipment. Cell phones or portable music players should also never be used during this process.

14. Do not overload theater circuits; ask Theatre Staff for questions on proper amperage levels.

15. If in doubt ask Theare Staff or Instructor first to ensure the proper wire and cable sizes and types are always used in lighting installations.

16. Use the shortest extension cable possible.

17. Never coil or wrap cable around pipes, raceways, or drop boxes.

18. Do not use fiberglass sheathed “two-fers” in floor positions.

19. Coil drop box multi-cables on the grid deck. Do not lay them on top of any of the counterweight system rigging hardware (i.e. loft blocks or steel aircraft cable).

20. All lighting equipment must have a safety cable. Attach first, disconnect last.

21. Top hats and barn doors must be attached to the lighting equipment’s safety cable.

22.Completely dry your hands before touching electrical switches, plugs, or receptacles.

23. Notify Theatre Staff of any hazardous electrical condition immediately and secure the area so that no one has access.

Floors and Safe Working Practices
Floors in the shop and stage areas are often covered with many items and obstructions due to limited work areas in the building. Some of the items associated with the floor include, but are not limited to: lower stage floor in designated area, wet floors due to painting and spills, obstructions including tools, power cords, air hoses, materials, and scenery.

1. Stay alert to changes in work conditions.

2. Clean up spills as they occur.

3. When the front stage area is lowered in the John Anthony Theatre make sure the that everyone working in the area is aware of the circumstances and caution rope and signs are up when the Theatre is vacant.

4. Clean up tools, materials, and obstructions when finished with a project or when leaving it for an extended period of time.

5. Mark and block off entrances to wet painted floor areas.

6. Put away cords and hoses and ensure area is cleaned and orderly when the job is completed.

7. Do not block aisles, hallways, fire exits, doorways, fire doors, fire equipment, first aid kits, or electrical panels.

8. Notify Theatre Staff of any unsafe condition immediately. 

Hand Tools and Safe Working Practices
Many tools have sharp edges, blades, springs, etc. that can cause injuries.

1. Use the proper tool for the job.

2. Maintain tools in good condition. Reports damaged tools to the Theatre Staff and remove them from service until they are repaired or replaced.

3. Store and carry tools properly. Put them away when work is complete.

4. Be sure hands are as free of dirt and grease when using hand tools.

5. When using or carrying a sharp edged tool, point the sharp edge away from the worker. Do not carry sharp edged tools in pockets.

6. Wear proper safety equipment at all times.

7. All tools must be secured to the worker with a lanyard when entering fly rail areas.

8. All the contents of pockets must be removed when entering fly rail areas.

Ladders and Safe Working Practices
The use of ladders in the shop and stage areas is a common occurrence. Falls from ladders can cause severe injury to one’s self just as falling objects from a ladder can cause injury to others. Safe ladder practices are essential at all times.

1. Check ladders for broken or damaged parts before each use. Never use a damaged ladder. Report any damaged ladder to the Theatre Staff, label it, and remove it from service.

2. Only one person on a ladder at a time.

3. Do not place a ladder in front of a door that opens onto the ladder unless the door is blocked open, locked from access, and/or guarded.

4. Do not place ladders on boxes or any other object to obtain extra height.

5. Always face the ladder when ascending or descending.

6. Do not stand or work on the top two steps of a ladder.

7. Never leave anything unattended on top of a ladder or on the steps of a ladder.

8. Do not lean or overreach from a ladder.

9. Do not straddle the space between a ladder and another object.

10. Make sure the ladder is fully open and the spreaders are locked.

11. Never reposition a ladder while on it.

12. Store ladders in their proper location after use.

13. Do not use a ladder on an uneven surface.

14. Do not use a ladder without someone else present in the area.

Working on the Fly-Rail

1. Before entering the fly-rail area, all contents from pockets must be removed. This will eliminate the possibility of dropping things on persons below.

2. All tools must be secured to the individual by a tie line or lanyard.

3. The stage entrance nearest to the fly-rail must be closed off before any weight is loaded or unloaded.

4. Loading and un-loading weight on loading rails must be done in the company of Theatre Staff. The stage under the rail must be secured before any work can be done.

5. Report any frays in the rope or difficulty in operating the pulley system to the Theatre Staff immediately.

Lifts and Safe Working Practices

1. All users must first be trained by the Theatre Instructor or Staff. These individuals are also responsible for maintaining record of this training.

2. Pre-operation inspection shall be completed and documented before use.

3. The unit must be used on a flat and level surface.

4. All stabilizers (outriggers) must be properly extended and locked before entering the basket.

5. Do not exceed the maximum load rating. This includes the operator and all equipment in the basket.

6. Do not operate the lift on an elevated platform, scaffold, truck bed, or extended platform.

7. Only one person is allowed in the basket.

8. Do not climb, stand, or sit on the basket railings.

9. Do not lean ladders against the lift. Never apply a side load force to the unit by pushing or pulling from the basket or by hanging heavy wires or cables over the side.

10. Do not move the lift when the basket is raised.

11. Do not operate near overhead electrical lines or obstructions.

12. Do not stand under or near the loaded basket.

13. Never attempt to use the lift without someone else present in the area.

14. After use, coil the power cable and put it in the basket. Return the lift to its storage area.

15. The lift will be cleared of all equipment, supplies and debris after each use.

Lighting Equipment and Safe Working Practices
The use of stage lighting equipment in the theatre poses the risk of electrical shock and burns from coming into contact with hot metal and glass. Do not use or handle any lighting equipment without proper training and authorization.

1. The rigging of lighting equipment is only to be done under staff supervision.

2. Wear proper PPE when handling hot lighting equipment and changing lamps.

3. All electrical, ladder, lift, and rigging rules apply while you are working with lighting equipment.

4. Return unused gel, cable, lights, and accessories to proper storage areas when work is complete.

5. Clean up electrical equipment and accessories from stage and light room.

6. Store equipment on proper carts and pipes and in storage room.

7. Report any damaged equipment to Theatre Staff, tag it, and remove it from service.

8. Unplug lighting instruments before changing lamps.

9. Safety cables are required on all stage lighting equipment and accessories.

Low Light Levels and Safe Working Practices
Low light levels are present when lighting equipment is being focused during rehearsals, as well as performances. Extreme caution should be used in these conditions as vision is greatly impaired.

1. Use caution in low light level situations.

2. Sound off when stage lights are going to black.

3. Know where flashlights are kept and use them when necessary.

4. Stop all hazardous activity during low light levels.

5. If a blackout occurs and nothing is visible, stop immediately. Sound off and wait in place for assistance.

6. Provide running lights for major pathways whenever possible, being careful not to run cords across any walkways.

Noise Levels and Safe Working Practices
Noise levels will vary both in the shop and on stage. These noises come from machine tools as well as theatre sound systems. Wear ear protection when operating or in the vicinity of loud machinery and tools for prolonged periods, and when exposed to loud and prolonged sound from theatre audio systems. Ear muffs and plugs will be made available by the Theatre Instructors and Staff.

Obstructions and Safe Working Practices
Many obstructions are present in the shop and theatre work areas. These hazards include, but are not limited to, overhead wires, cables and scenery, flexible work areas, temporary storage of scenery, materials and settings, and various floor obstructions as stated above. Extreme caution should be used in all work areas.

1. Be aware of changes in working areas.

2. Use caution when moving objects in, around, and out of the stage and shop areas.

3. Clean up and properly store all tools, materials, and scenery when finished with a project.

4. Mark off and alert others of temporary obstructions.

5. Do not block aisles, hallways, fire exits, doorways, fire doors, fire equipment, or electrical panels.

6. Notify shop Theatre Staff of any unsafe conditions immediately.

Audio Equipment and Safe Working Practices
The use of audio equipment in the theatre is accompanied by the risk of electric shock, burns, and physical injury from contact with the hot metal, glass, electrical connectors and cables, both hanging and on the floor. Do not use or handle any audio equipment without proper training and authorization.

1. The rigging of audio equipment is to be done only under Theatre Staff supervision.

2. All electrical, floor, hand tool, ladder, lift, lighting, low light level, noise level, obstruction, orchestra pit, overhead work area, and rigging rules apply while working with audio equipment.

3. All electrical repair work is only to be performed by trained and qualified employees.

4. All audio cables in working and walking areas are to be properly dressed and taped down.

5. Return unused equipment, cable, and accessories to proper storage areas when work is complete.

6. Clean up electrical equipment and accessories from stage and storage rooms after use.

7. Store equipment in appropriate cabinets and rooms designated for audio equipment.

8. Report any damaged equipment to Theatre Staff; tag and remove all damaged equipment from service.

9. Report any hazards to a Theatre Staff immediately.

10. Safety cables are required on all hanging audio equipment.

Overhead Work Areas and Safe Working Practices
There are many overhead work areas in the theater environment including areas in and around the shop, on stage, and in the auditorium. These areas include: ladders, lifts, platforms, grids, and catwalks. Be cautious when working overhead as well as below.

1. Sound off when working overhead.

2. Hard hats are required below when overhead work is in progress.

3. Secure all tools and equipment when working overhead.

4. Stay inside catwalks and railings when working overhead.

5. Sound off if something is dropped when working overhead.

6. If one does not feel safe working at heights, the Theatre Staff should be informed.

7. Do not drop objects from any height over four feet; lower them down with a rope.

8. Empty unsecured objects from pockets before working overhead.

9. Do not look up if someone sounds off. A hard hat will not protect one’s face or teeth.

10. When changing weight at a loading gallery above the stage floor, the floor must be cleared to the proscenium arch and center line before any weight is moved. A floor monitor must be present at all times to ensure the area below remains clear. Sound off when starting and when finished.

11. Do not leave unsecured tools or materials unattended in overhead work areas.

Painting and Safe Working Practices
Most paints in the scene shop are non toxic acrylic, or latex water-based paints. However, spray paints and enamels are sometimes used. These paints can create health, as well as safety hazards. Caution should be used when spraying any type of paint. Refer to SDS (MSDS) for more information.

1. A particle mask rated for spraying latex and/or acrylic paint and goggles are required for all present when spraying acrylic and latex paints.

2. All spray paint (cans) should be used in well ventilated areas.

3. Eye protection and a particle mask rated for spraying paint should be worn when painting overhead or using spray cans.

4. Clean up paint spills immediately.

5. Clean up buckets, brushes, and rollers when finished painting.

6. Mark and block access to wet painted floor areas.

Pneumatic Tools and Safe Working Practices
Pneumatic tools run from compressed air. Safe use and thorough knowledge of these tools is required before use. Training should be conducted by the Theatre Instructor or Staff along with maintaining all necessary training documents. Our pneumatic tools consist of nail guns, staple guns, air nozzles, and sprayers.

1. Eye protection is required when using any pneumatic tool or nozzle.

2. Never point a pneumatic tool toward oneself or another person. Failure to abide by this will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

3. Never carry a pneumatic tool by the hose.

4. Disconnect the tool when not in use or while loading or unloading staples or paint.

5. Inspect the tool and hose before use.

6. Report any damaged tool to Theatre Staff, label the tool, and remove it from service.

7. Do not disable the safety mechanism on any pneumatic tool.

8. Compressed air PSI will not exceed manufacturer’s instruction and regulatory guidelines.

Power Tools and Safe Working Practices
Power tools include large permanent machine tools as well as portable power tools. These tools can be dangerous as they have electrically operated blades and cutters. Extreme caution should be used when operating and making adjustments to these tools. Safety training for a power tool must be completed through the Theatre Instructor of Staff or another approved competent person before use. Records of these training sessions will be maintained for all individuals being trained. 

1. Students are not required to operate power tools.

2. Never carry a portable power tool by the cord.

3. Never yank the cord from an outlet. Disconnect it by pulling on the plug.

4. Keep cords away from heat, oil, water, and sharp edges.

5. Never handle or operate tools with wet or oily hands.

6. Keep cords, hands, and clothing away from moving parts of the tool (i.e., blades, bits, and cutters).

7. Disconnect tools when not in use, before servicing, and before changing bits, blades, and cutters.

8. To avoid accidental starting, do not hold finger on the switch while carrying a plugged in tool.

9. Inspect tools and cords for damage and defects before each use.

10. Do not use a damaged tool or cord. Label it and remove it from service by turning it in to the Theatre Staff. Do not attempt to repair it.

11. Do not remove, alter, or disable any guard or safety device on any power tool.

12. Wear safety glasses when using any power tool.

13. Wear appropriate ear protection when using power tools for prolonged periods.

14. All operators of power tools must be trained in proper use and safety of the tool prior to operating it.

15. Allow the tool to reach full speed before use. Stay with it until it stops. Do not leave a running machine unattended.

16. Do not restart power tools until they have come to a complete stop.

17. Inspect materials before use. Remove screws, nails, staples, or other material before cutting into used woods.

18. Make any necessary adjustments to power tools with the power turned off.

19. All special setups must be checked by Theatre Staff or Instructor before power is turned on.

20. Stand to the side of the power tool when turning it on. Do not stand directly in line with the saw blade or other moving devices.

21. Observe safety space. Only the operator is permitted within the working area around a machine.

22. Keep the power tool and related work area clean and free of debris.

23. Repairs to shop power tools are only to be made by qualified shop staff.

Counterweight, Rigging and Safe Working Practices
Use of the Counterweight system,Rigging and running scenery for stage use can be a dangerous task if not trained in the safe operation of the rigging system. All persons using or conducting other activities around or near any of the stage rigging systems must first be trained in safe use and operation. Weights are loaded above, scenery is constantly moving in or out, and obstructions and weight limits are always present. There is a Counterweight System operations manual located in the box on the upstage wall next to the fly rail.

1. Do not use the rigging system without proper training from the Theatre Instructor or Staff.

2. Do not operate the rigging system without a spotter present.

3. Be sure that load is properly balanced.

4. Do not leave a line set while it is unlocked.

5. The attachment of scenery to batten shall be done under the supervision of an authorized member of the Theatre Staff.

6. Changing weights shall be done under the supervision of an authorized member of the shop staff.

7. When changing weight at a loading gallery above the stage floor, the floor must be cleared to the proscenium arch and center line before any weight is moved. A floor monitor must be present at all times to ensure the area below remains clear. Sound off when starting and when finished.

8. When loading a batten, always load the batten first, the arbor second.

9. When unloading a batten, always unload the arbor first, the batten second.

10. Sound off when moving a line set in or out.

11. Do not move a line set without warning persons working on the grid.

12. If a line set runs away and is too heavy to safely stop, warn all present and take cover.

13. The locking rail should be labeled with what is on each line set and what line set is not to move.

14. Test all running lines before each show.

15. In a performance situation, only move lines on cue. Moving a line set before a cue could cause severe injury or damage to persons and property on stage.

16. Observe all spike marks.

17. Remove all spike marks from line set ropes at strike.

18. If you are unsure about any aspect of the rigging system, ask Theatre Staff.

This list of safe working practices is by no means the limit to which one should be careful. Think safety at all times. If ever in doubt of something, ASK. Report any concerns to supervisor. Safety is a critical emphasis in providing a safe and productive theater environment. 

House Manager Duties

Pre-Show Check

Review Emergency Information Sheet

Obtain programs, usher and house manager name tags from box office counter

Locate the first aid kit

Check in with box office person on duty, stage manager, and/or technical director

Check lobby for cleanliness

Check with box office and technical director for locations of special seating, i.e. handicapped or reserved.

Conduct Usher Orientation

-        Issue Name Tags

-        No Food or Drink in any theatres

-        Ticket Scanners, Ticket Collectors, or Patron Counters (Depending on performance)

-        No recording devices or cellular phones

-        Review late seating with stage manager

30 Minutes Prior to Performance

Check with Stage Manager on Opening Doors

Once all patrons are seated and doors are closed, make stage manager aware


Open Doors as directed by the stage manager or technical director

Monitor and Direct Patrons as needed

Make announcement at 5 minutes prior to the next Act

Once all patrons are seated and doors are closed, make stage manager aware

After Performance

Assist patrons exiting the theatre.

Encourage patrons to move to the lobby to wait for cast and crew members.

Recycle programs that can be reused.

Inform the Stage Manager when the house is cleared.

Main College Information Line: 972.881.5790
Campus Police; Emergency: 972.578.5555 from any off-campus telephone
Non-emergency Police: 972.881.5795 or 972.881.5696
Facilities: (For Restroom or other Cleaning): 972-881-5690