Rigging systems are perhaps the most deceptively complex elements in event production. What may appear to a layperson as a haphazard pile of cables, shackles, and truss work is in all likelihood an intricately-designed and well-engineered structure, capable of supporting equipment many times its own weight. Similarly, there’s more to the practice of rigging than simply bolting things together and letting it fly. It’s a highly-skilled discipline that is equal parts fabrication, engineering, and art. This difference between perception and reality can lead many to underestimate the safety risks that rigging presents, both as an object and an activity.

The importance of safe rigging cannot be overstated. Due to its aerial placement and the physical demands placed upon it, accidents resulting from structural failure or improper installation of rigging systems can have disastrous consequences. The lives of your performers, audience, and employees may literally hang on the meticulousness of your rigging procedures.

It is this seriousness that guided the creation of the new rigging chapter included in the latest version of the Event Safety Guide. Following the intent of the Guide, this new chapter is not a “how to” manual, but a collection of best practices to be considered when planning or using a rigging system at your event. It covers topics such as the recommended training, competencies, and responsibilities of employees involved in rigging operations; planning, installation, and monitoring of systems and equipment; and emergency and rescue operations. The draft version of the chapter was developed by a committee of the industry’s foremost rigging experts, with many members of PLASA’s Rigging Work Group contributing to its construction and review.

Whether you’re a professional rigger, production manager, or simply work around such systems, you’ll likely find the contents of this chapter useful in improving the safety of your rigging operations. Like the rest of the guide, this chapter is intended to be a living document. We encourage you to download the guide, review the chapter, and submit your comments on how we might improve it for future versions.