Lighting & Sound

Electrical Hazards

Many students have never worked with electricity directly before working on stage.

  • Repairs: Students should not attempt electrical repairs without proper training.  Equipment that malfunctions or causes shocks should be removed from service and repaired by a qualified individual.
  • Extension cords: Extension cords are only designed for temporary use.  Use of thin, light duty extension cords can increase the risk of fire and shock.  Make sure extension cords have adequate current capacity for the equipment being used.  Do not pull an electrical cord out of a socket by the cord.  This breaks interior wires and can cause a short and, possibly, a fire.  Inspect for frayed or split cords or plugs before use.
  • Electrical Cords: Electrical cords can also be a tripping hazard.  It is a good practice to route cords away from traffic areas to prevent trips and falls. Avoid stretching or pinching cords between objects.  This can break interior wires, causing overheating which can result in a fire. Do not cover electrical cords with rugs; this can also result in a fire.
  • Circuit Protection Devices: Circuit protection devices are designed to automatically limit or shut off the flow of electricity in the event of a ground-fault, overload, or short circuit in the wiring system.  A ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, should be used in high-risk areas such as wet locations or outdoor sites.  Portable GFCIs are available from any hardware store or safety supply catalog.
  • Training: Training is essential in working with lighting circuitry, dimmers and instruments.  Students should be trained before being authorized to work the control areas.  Keep food and beverages out of the light control areas to prevent possible shocks and damage to the circuitry.

Overhead Lighting

Lighting dimmers have limits to the lamp loads they can handle.  Overloading dimmers can cause a fire hazard.  There are standard size 1.2 kilowatt (1200W maximum) and 2.4 kilowatt (2400W maximum) dimmers used in the student-run theater spaces. NOTE: The wattage of the bulbs MAY NOT exceed that of the dimmers they are plugged into. 

Ladders & Catwalks

Lighting work sometimes requires working from ladders or elevated surfaces such as catwalks. For information on working from ladders, see Ladder Safety.

Catwalks are designed with fall protection in the form of guardrails. Guardrails may not be removed, climbed or defeated in any way without additional fall protection practices in place.


Kelly States
Assistant Director