Home / National News / OSHA Cites Circus for Hair-Hanging Stunt Gone Wrong


(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a report on Tuesday that showed that the hair-hanging stunt gone wrong in May was caused by overloading of the carabiner that was holding the performers up.

On May 4, a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show was held in Providence, and during the show, eight performers took part in a “Hair Hang Act” that ended when the eight performers fell more than 15 feet to the ground. A ninth employee of the circus was struck by falling performers while working on the ground.

According to OSHA, the company improperly loaded the carabiner — attaching two pear-shaped steel rings to the device, and running three wire cables to each steel ring from the corners of the apparatus that the performers were to hang from. The overloading of the carabiner caused it to fail and the rigging to fall to the ground.

As a result, OSHA cited the company running the circus, Feld Entertainment Inc., for one serious safety violation and proposed a penalty of $7,000 — the maximum fine allowed by law. A serious violation, by definition, occurs “when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.”

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels called the incident a “catastrophic failure by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.”

“While the $7,000 penalty is the maximum allowable by law, we can never put a price on the impact this event had on these workers and their families,” Michaels added.

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