OSHA has approved a settlement between the U.S. Labor Department and an event company whose circus tent collapsed in New Hampshire last year, killing a young child and her father and injuring dozens of people.
The agency cited Florida-based Walker International Events for 14 serious violations of workplace safety standards in connection with the incident, which occurred in Lancashire New Hampshire on August 3, 2015 during a severe thunderstorm.
Ignored weather warnings
OSHA found that - despite repeated National Weather Service and other warnings of severe storms - Walker elected to proceed with a scheduled outdoor circus performance. The company also failed to install the outdoor circus tent safely as directed by its own engineering plan, or in keeping with industry standards. For these reasons, OSHA cited the company for violation of section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, that requires employers to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The agency also cited Walker for violations of electrical standards.
Walker contested its citations to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, but under the settlement the company has agreed to, it accepts the citations, verifies that the violations have been abated and will pay a $24,000 fine.
Out of business unless...
In addition, Walker, which is currently out of business, will not resume operations unless it first implements a comprehensive safety and health management plan that includes procedures for the safe installation of outdoor tents with provisions for inspections of each tent installation.
"While nothing can undo the tragedy in Lancaster, this settlement does seek to prevent future such occurrences. If and when Walker International Events resumes operations, it must first put into place a comprehensive safety and health plan to ensure the proper erection and maintenance of tents and its adherence to OSHA standards," said Michael Felsen, the New England regional solicitor of labor.