OSHA Issues Fines for Death of Cirque du Soleil Performer

by Jacob Coakley

Nevada OSHA has finished its investigation into the death of Sarah Guillot-Guyard, the Cirque du Soleil performer who fell 94 feet during the climactic scene of Ka on June 29 and later died. OSHA determined that accident happened when the wire rope she was suspended from broke. According to the report, the wire rope “was severed due to the rapid ascent of the performer, ultimately causing the rope to be freed from the sheave/pulley and scraping against a shear point.” OSHA officials cited Cirque du Soleil with six proposed citations and more than $25,000 in fines and MGM Grand with three citations and a $7,000 fine. Cirque du Soleil and MGM are appealing the fines.

One of the citations for Cirque du Soleil includes a failure to “protect or prevent ‘Ka’ employees from striking an overhead grid during the ‘Ka’ show at the ‘Ka’ Theater.” Reporting for the Las Vegas Sun, John Katsilometes wrote that “This matches reports from those familiar with the ‘Ka’ staging and fatal incident that Guillot-Guyard did hit the metal grid over the stage as she ascended high above the Final Battle scene, which jarred the rope connecting her to her harness.” Katsilometes also reported that Cirque du Soleil will be appealing the fine:

In a statement that also referenced Cirque’s internal review of the incident, [Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman Rene-Claude Menard] said: “Cirque du Soleil completed an exhaustive review of its safety policies and procedures in the wake of the tragic accident involving Sarah. We have redoubled our efforts to ensure the overall diligence and safety of our performers and crew. We have received and reviewed the OSHA citations. We have initiated the appeal process as part of OSHA’s administrative protocol. Safety always has been the top priority for Cirque du Soleil, its performers and crew members.”

On the KTNV website, Krista Hostetler listed the citations OSHA has proposed. They are:

Summary of Cited Violations

Cirque du Soleil:

- NRS 618.375 (1): A General Duty Citation was issued because the employer did not protect or prevent KA employees from striking an overhead grid during the KA show at the KA Theater. $7,000 proposed penalty.

- The first part of the General Duty Citation was issued because the employer did not provide proper training for the KA Battle Spearman Warrior employee involved in the accident in the use of equipment and tasks used in the Ka show, battle scene at the KA Theater.

- The second part was issued because the employer had a Fall Protection Program with construction requirements that do not apply to theater settings because the KA Theater is regulated by Nevada OSHA general industry standards. $7,000 proposed penalty.

- 29 CFR 1910.132: This citation was issued because the employer did not properly assess the workplace for hazards that required personal protective equipment at the KA Theater, including opensided floors, bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials, pyrotechnic dust cleanup, and not finalizing a hazard assessment for the performers. $7,000 proposed penalty.

- 29 CFR 1910.132: This citation was issued because the employer did not certify that a workplace hazard assessment had been performed and did not include the date the hazard assessments were conducted. $0 proposed penalty, grouped with the proposed citation above.

29 CFR 1904.32: This citation was issued because the employer did not include on the OSHA Form 300 Log of Injury and Illnesses, the object or substance that directly injured or made a person ill, which prevented a trend analysis and kept the employer from recognizing and conducting employee training involving recurring injuries in accordance with Nevada Revised Statute. $3,300 proposed penalty.

Nevada Revised Statute 618.379: This citation was issued because the employer removed equipment from a fatality site on June 29 before Nevada OSHA authorized the dismantling and removal of the equipment (38 feet of wire rope that was attached to the victim at the time of the accident). $935 proposed penalty.

MGM Grand Hotel & Casino:

- NRS 618.375: This General Duty Citation was issued because MGM Grand employees were exposed to hazards due to deficiencies in the Cirque du Soleil Fall Protection Program with construction requirements that do not apply to theater settings because the KA Theater is regulated by Nevada OSHA general industry standards.

- 29 CFR 1910.132: This citation was issued because MGM Grand employees were exposed to hazards due to the deficiencies in Cirque du Soleil hazard assessments for the KA Theater that included opensided floors, bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials and pyrotechnic dust cleanup. $7,000 proposed penalty.

- 29 CFR 1910.132: This citation was issued because MGM Grand employees were exposed to hazards due to deficiencies in the Cirque du Soleil hazard assessments because Cirque du Soleil did not certify that a workplace hazard assessment had been performed and did not include the date the hazard assessments were conducted. $0 proposed penalty, grouped with the proposed citation above.

Newsroom