20/12/2013 08:12 HRS

A ceiling has collapsed at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London. A large section of ornate plasterwork fell on the audience during a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. 76 people are reported to be injured, seven of them seriously.

The Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT)  draws attention to the publication Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment. With regard to Ceilings and Plasterwork particular attention is drawn to Recommendation M1.10: Any suspended ceilings and ornamental plasterwork should be regularly inspected both for water and also excessive noise and vibration damage.

The ABTT offers advice on the planning and construction of new theatres and the reconstruction of existing ones.  It also provides advice on the operation and management of premises used for entertainment.

The Technical Standards further recommend that it may be appropriate or required by law for certificates confirming inspection and or testing to be obtained and retained on the premises with regard to suspended ceilings and ornamental plasterwork.

The ABTT publishes the Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment together with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the District Surveyors Association and the Institute Of Licensing.

Of the 37 technical standards on which commentary and recommendations are provided there are two which are of particular relevance:

1. The premises should be designed and constructed, maintained and managed so as to ensure the health and safety and welfare of all the occupants.

37. Appropriate certificates should be obtained as confirmation and evidence that the premises may be safely opened to the public.

The Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment form part of the Code of Practice for the Theatre Industry which is being produced by the Association of British Theatre Technicians with the support of the Theatre Safety Committee.