Radiohead Calls for Safety Measures as Inquest Into Stage Death Concludes
A Toronto jury on Thursday concluded a coroner’s inquest into the death of a drum technician who died after the roof of a stage collapsed on him before a Radiohead concert in 2012.
The technician, Scott Johnson, had been hired for the band’s tour for its album “The King of Limbs.” An hour before a sold-out show in Toronto in June 2012, a rooflike structure came crashing down on crew members, killing Johnson and injuring three other workers who were setting up equipment.
The jury proposed 28 nonbinding recommendations to help prevent similar incidents, including the creation of a permanent working group that would establish and update standards and best practices for the live-performance industry. Several other recommendations highlighted the need to improve oversight of safety rules for the construction of temporary stages in Ontario.
Radiohead responded to the jury’s conclusion with a statement, saying that the inquest’s verdict of accidental death “feels frustratingly insufficient given that the stage collapse was shown to be preventable.” The group added: “The jury have made sound and practical recommendations to prevent such an accident happening again and to ensure the future safety of show crews and audiences. It’s up to all of us now to make sure that these recommendations are implemented.”
In 2013, provincial officials brought charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act against Live Nation Canada, the concert organizer, and Live Nation Ontario Concerts GP. Other charges were brought against the Toronto-based Optex Staging and Services and a single engineer. The defendants had pleaded not guilty.
After several delays, a judge stayed the charges in September 2017 because the case had taken too long. (A 2016 Supreme Court of Canada ruling said cases in provincial court should go to trial within 18 months of charges being brought.)
The Ontario coroner’s office began a new public inquest into Johnson’s death on March 25. For more than two weeks, a five-person jury heard testimony from engineers, provincial officials and workers who were present when the stage was being built. Radiohead’s drummer, Philip Selway, and Johnson’s father, Ken, also gave statements.