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June 26, 2012

Professional Engineers Ontario offers to help investigate Toronto Radiohead stage collapse

The recent stage collapse at Downsview Park highlights the lack of permitting systems for stages, say the Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO).

“[Large temporary tents] are required to have permits based on the size. Certain engineering components go into each of those ones and maybe a parallel structure is needed [for stages],” said Kim Allen, PEO chief executive officer and registrar.

“The stage has evolved from a little platform with a couple people to the massive structures that they have today,” he said.


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“With the sound equipment and the light equipment and the video boards and all those types of things they have on stage now —they’re much more substantial structures than they were 15 years ago.”

A drum technician was killed and three other were injured when a massive outdoor stage collapsed during setup for a Radiohead concert in Toronto on June 16.

PEO, the licensing and regulating body for professional engineers and professional engineering in the province, is looking into the collapse and has offered to assist the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) in its investigation.

As of June 22, the MOL had not taken PEO up on its offer.

The organization extends such an offer when there’s a broad public interest concern that may involve engineering.

“PEO would be pleased to assist the ministry’s investigation, if requested, to find out if engineering work was carried out by appropriately licensed people and companies, and establish if there were any issues related to the engineering performed,” said Linda Latham, PEO, deputy registrar, regulatory compliance.

Under the Professional Engineers Act, PEO is responsible for the licensing and discipline of professional engineers and holders of temporary, limited and provisional engineering licences and authorizes companies to provide engineering services under Certificates of Authorization.

PEO protects the public by ensuring all those who do or take responsibility for professional engineering have met the rigorous qualifications for licensing. It also sets standards of professional practice for professional engineering work.

This is the third Canadian stage collapse in recent years. Several people were hurt when the stage went down at Bluesfest in Ottawa last July and one person died in 2009 when a windstorm collapsed the stage at the Big Valley Jamboree in Alberta.

PEO has not made a formal submission for a stage permitting system, but “that’s kind of the broader direction that we’ve been heading in, to look at the broader issue of what do you do in the longer term to prevent a reoccurrence,” said Allen.

WITH FILES FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS

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