Will Disney World’s Safety Be an Issue?

One of the biggest attractions in Orlando, Fla., is Walt Disney World, which is just a short drive away from the Orange County Convention Center, site of NSC’s 2009 Congress & Expo. While it’s not surprising NSC will feature tie-ins to the world-famous theme park, it will be interesting to see whether those tie-ins shed more light on the three worker fatalities and other injuries the park has experienced this year.

Greg Hale, Disney’s vice president of safety and chief safety officer, will be on hand Monday, Oct. 26, to moderate the opening day’s Executive Forum from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on “The Role of the EHS Executive in an Economic Downturn—How Do We Deal with the Conditions of the Economy Strategically?” The panel session is part of NSC’s new “Executive Edge Track,” which the council says is designed to address “timely and relevant concerns.”

Even if Hale addresses only fiscal concerns during the forum, NSC’s technical tour on Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Disney’s Hollywood Studios could remind attendees of one of the fatal incidents. Participants will venture behind the scenes at Disney’s “Lights, Motors, Action!™ Extreme Stunt Show” to learn about the safety features that go into producing such a show. Describing the afternoon planned at the venue, Disney says attendees “will explore traditional safety elements including fall protection, confined spaces, and fire protection. The highlight of this tour includes entertainment safety as it relates to precision driving, high stunt falls, weapons and explosives . . . and even setting someone on fire. Learn how we apply safety by design techniques to create this high-powered show.” The tour seems tailor-made for addressing the Aug. 17, 2009, incident where a 30-year-old Disney performer suffered a fatal head injury while performing a tumbling roll for the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, also located in the Hollywood Studios part of the park.

This was the third fatal incident at the park within two months. Earlier in August, a performer was injured in a pirate show and later died. And on July 5, a 21-year-old park employee was killed and passengers were injured when two monorails collided en route to Epcot Center.

The series of incidents drew worldwide attention. With safety’s biggest U.S. show taking place in the Magic Kingdom®’s neighborhood, it could be a prime venue for addressing their impact.

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