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Changes made to Town Hall balustrade

Dunedin (Wednesday, 13 June 2018) – The steel safety rail on the Dunedin Town Hall balustrade is now a temporary feature to be used only at events where an extra level of safety is required.

Dunedin City Council Acting General Manager Infrastructure and Networks Leanne Mash says the rail was installed last year in response to concerns about the potential for falls. Since then, concerns have been raised both about its industrial look and the way it obstructs people’s view when they are seated in the front row of the circle for events such as symphony orchestra concerts.

“The key challenge, right from the outset, was meeting health and safety needs while not detracting from the experience of Town Hall patrons. A glass safety barrier was considered as a replacement, but upon further investigation was not suitable from an engineering perspective.

“Having gone through a range of options, we have decided, in consultation with the venue managers, to take a risk-based approach and only have the rail in place for certain events, such as rock concerts. People are more likely to be on their feet dancing at a rock concert, raising the risk of someone falling from the dress circle, so the steel rail would be in place for those types of events.

“For events where people typically remain seated, there will be no rail.”

Each event will undergo a risk assessment to decide whether the rail needs to be put in place for that specific event. Installation takes about five hours.

In lieu of the rail, the DCC is putting other safety measures in place. An inverted U shape barrier is being fitted permanently just in front of the balustrade at the bottom of each set of stairs leading to the front row of the dress circle. This means if someone trips going down the stairs, they won’t fall over the balustrade. The barrier, which will be about 300mm higher than the top of the balustrade, will be powder-coated to match the original balustrade.

Ms Mash says, “We are also adding signs by the doors to the dress circle asking patrons to be careful when moving to their seats. Further signs, fitted to the balustrade, will ask people in the front row to remain seated and not to place items on the ledge of the balustrade. Town Hall staff will also be taking a more active role by asking patrons to stay seated during performances.”

In addition to the work being done on the circle, a permanent rail of 25mm steel tubing – powder-coated to match the facing of the balcony - is to be permanently installed in the gods, given the greater risk associated with this seating area. This area is generally only used for graduations and fully booked concerts.

“Our intent is that this approach will better manage the risks of various sorts of performances, while not detracting from the overall Town Hall experience.”


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