Imagine sitting in the bleachers at your local high school gym watching your child participate in a sporting event, hearing a loud crash and looking up to see a ceiling suspended backstop that has fallen and injured people sitting in the bleachers across the court. Sounds pretty farfetched and unlikely, but the above situation occurred earlier this month during a wrestling tournament in Weeping Water, NE. The falling backstop injured and sent four people to the hospital, two of them serious enough to be transported by helicopter. Our thoughts and wishes for a fast and full recovery go out to those injured. You can see more on the accident from KETV Omaha channel 7 and see a photo of the immediate aftermath at:
It is unfortunate that this accident occurred, but even more so because it may have been preventable. All ceiling suspended and wall mounted gymnasium equipment should be routinely inspected and maintained by qualified individuals. We do not know the exact conditions that led to this incident or maintenance history at this particular school, but we do know that many schools have their telescopic bleachers inspected and serviced on a routine basis, but simply ignore the heavy gymnasium equipment mounted right above. Every gymnasium equipment manufacturer, including Draper, strongly suggests this type of equipment be inspected at least once per year to insure it is functioning correctly and is safe for continued operation. A qualified inspector needs to check height adjusters, backboards, goals and winches for proper installation and function, examine cables, pulleys and pivot points for wear or compromise and review every piece of hardware, weld and connection for integrity.
This incident also reinforces the need for safety straps that I discussed in a previous post. https://blog.draperinc.com/2011/11/why-dont-all-folding-backstops-include-safety-straps/ Every new folding backstop should be specified with safety straps. Normally safety straps can also be added to existing backstops without a lot of special work or additional parts. Safety straps need to be installed correctly to insure they function as intended and should also be inspected annually just like any other gymnasium equipment product. A properly installed and functioning safety strap is an inexpensive insurance policy against horrible events like Weeping Waters.
Contact Draper or your local Draper Gymnasium Equipment Dealer to arrange inspection of your gymnasium equipment or to explore adding safety straps to your backstops.