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Published: Friday, 4/28/2006

Sports Arena cited for 7 violations, fined $75,000

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

As managers of the Toledo Sports Arena were preparing for the third day of Disney on Ice performances in late January, they got a visit from federal safety inspectors.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that arena employees who did pre-show setup work high above the ice surface were not adequately protected from falling.

That infraction, along with others identified during follow-up visits - including one on the day of a February concert by the rock act Nine Inch Nails - led the agency to issue $75,000 in fines against Sports Arena Inc.

The arena disputes the allegations, and managers have asked the agency to reduce or drop citations and fines.

The citations could be changed and the agency could lower fines.

"We don't believe the citations are warranted by the facts or the law," said Gregory Lodge, an attorney representing the East Toledo venue.

Inspectors from OSHA's Toledo office first visited the arena, which has never before been cited, on Jan. 27, agency documents show. That was during a five-day run of the Disney show "3 Jungle Adventures."

The agency was responding to a complaint, according to Dick Tracy, the agency's assistant area director. The agency doesn't identify the source of complaints.

The citations, involving one incident classified as willful and six as serious, were issued March 29. But the U.S. agency provided copies to The Blade this week only after the newspaper filed a request under federal open-records laws.

Mr. Lodge, the arena's attorney, said that the alleged incidents occurred as shows were being set up and that audience members and performers were not endangered. He declined further comment, saying:

"The Sports Arena is engaging in discussions with OSHA and it would be inappropriate to comment on specifics of the citations."

Written citations state that workers erecting rigging near the ceiling, 48 feet above the arena floor, did not use required fall-protection on the opening days of the ice show and rock concert. That alone accounted for $63,000 of the fine.

Other citations included failing to provide proper gates and railings for catwalks, failing to provide a proper ladder for workers erecting stage scaffolding for the Nine Inch Nails concert, and failing to take required measures to ensure that electricity was not inadvertently turned on while employees were replacing light fixtures.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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