2 Sep 2015

Stage Roof Row: Certification Questioned

Taree (NSW) production supplier Hamish McDonald has confirmed his stage roof is not certified. Trading as Paradyme Production Studios, Hamish also works with fellow NSW north coast operator Jim Bird from Wingham. Together they are known as Aurora Show FX.

AURORA’S stage roof system is based on industry standard ProLyte components which were purchased second hand. They have supplied outdoor stages for festival and outdoor events around the North Coast for several years.

Their client documentation included several Policy and Procedure documents, but no bad weather or emergency procedures. There was an engineer signoff on a series of identical modules used as a portable theatre stage. But nothing about the roof system(s).


Hamish was not in the mood when CX called to talk about just how the stage roof is certified. “I don’t understand why I have a magazine from Sydney calling me about this. I’m trying to run a business here, I’ve had Workcover out three times, they are the authority on this. Why would you want to publish a story about me?”

He went on to allege that rival operators had been complaining. “I’m a very small company on the coast trying to do business. We’re just a couple of guys under 30.”

News 1 stage 2  News 1 stage 3

Some minutes after our call his father Malcolm McDonald, a Sydney lawyer, called to warn us off. Then Hamish supplied us a series of TUV Certificates written in German. These appear to relate to individual ProLyte components alone.


But Roderick Van Gelder from Sydney firm Stage Safety says any stage roof system must be certified as a system; with components clearly identifiable so that concerned parties (such as hirers) can see the certification paperwork is relevant to what is built. For example the Engineer’s Certificate will detail the measurements and types of beams and columns, with loadings and wind ratings.

“Council should know what it is that is being built”, he says. “Always we should err on the safe side and not jump to conclusions”. He says if clear system certification is not supplied, then an engineer must attend setup to sign off.

Workcover inspector Scott Allman did visit Jim Bird in Taree at least once, in April 2014 and directed that an engineer inspect the truss system. Yet CX was not supplied with any evidence of this by deadline.

CX asked Hamish (and lawyer Malcolm) whether any engineer had inspected the ProLyte components to ensure they were genuine and not knockoffs, and that they were still fit for purpose – having been bought second hand.

We requested Engineer Certification for the components as a stage roof system. At deadline a structural engineer from Taree, Chris Venn-Browne called to say he had been commissioned to produce Certification. “Based on what they sent me I’ll have to go and inspect the system. They will set it up for me”, he said. “Strictly speaking the concept and design needs to be Certified, and each installation Certified separately.”


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