Putting a Face on Theatre
Riddle me this, Batman: What is roughly 6’ x 3’ and will reach safely to a work platform height of 20’? If you said: “Ladder”, you would most likely be wrong:
The warehousing industry works on how much product that can be kept in terms of cubic capacity. Tall buildings, narrow aisles, poor lighting, and workers that must move about efficiently between stock locations to retrieve products. Some of these warehouses cover acres of ground. There is no time to be hauling ladders around, and that wouldn’t really help the worker that has to handle boxes AND climb a ladder anyway. Sound like a familiar scenario?
A stage or shop cluttered with set pieces? Lighting and scenery battens 20’ or more above the stage? Poor lighting (hey, just because it’s a theatre doesn’t mean the work light can’t suck . . .)? Need to transport tools and goods up and down (that’s an invitation to an accident on a ladder)?
OK, man-lifts (aerial work platforms, or AWP’s) aren’t anything new to the theatre biz, we’ve been using Genie Lifts and assorted cousins for 30-some years now. However, the safety track record hasn’t been that great. Missing or broken outriggers, bypassed safety interlocks, lack of maintenance - the list gets pretty ugly. And with the outriggers in-place, it can be pretty difficult to plant the worker’s bucket right where you need it. It’s just too tempting to say “Oh, I’ll just be up there for a minute to replace that gel, I don’t need the outriggers . . .” The injury toll can climb pretty high.
This is where the warehousing industry has driven the product development to our benefit: Imagine a man-lift that doesn’t need outrigger, meets current OSHA requirements and ANSI safety Standards, and fits in tight places. What to get? A ‘Stock Picker’.
No, it’s not some guy on Wall Street bettin’ the farm on the price of Pork Bellies – it’s a purpose-built man-lift that does what we need to do in the theatre – get in tight places, go up, come down, and move on. All without breaking a sweat.
There are several companies that have produced products that serve the warehousing industry. The lift height is the one variable that you should choose based upon you venue’s needs – a small Stage, Black Box theatre with a low pipe-grid, or maybe a Video Studio might suffice with a 15’ lift travel, whereas a larger stage or experimental theatre might benefit from a 20’ lift range.
The way the wheels are mounted on them can affect the turning radius, and how much lift capacity they have is important, too. And check this out – some of them can be driven (albeit slowly) while the work platform is elevated – nice!
Products to choose from (there may be more – let us know what you may have found):
JLG Lifts: 3 models 15SP, 15MSP, & 20 MSP – www.jlg.com/en-US/Products.html
Cotterman: Maxi Lift Platform MLN176BH – www.cotterman.com/main/ns/34/doc/43
Genie: QuickStock QS-15 & QS-20 – www.genielift.com/en/products/new-equipment/vertical-mast-lifts/qui...
BilJax: ESP-19 – www.biljax.com/products/esp-19/
Ballymore: PS-15 – www.ballymore.com/products/lifts/power-stocker-lift
And a few safety notes: