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Are haunted houses dangerous ... for the performers?

When we think of the typical settings in which work injuries can occur, images of factories, manufacturing plants, construction sites and traditional offices more than likely spring to mind. However, it's important to keep in mind that workers employed in more unorthodox professions and/or seasonable jobs are equally - if not more susceptible - to serious work injuries.

Believe it or not, this is especially true for those who work in haunted houses, a particularly popular destination this time of the year.

Haunted house performers, meaning those paid to dress up and scare customers, are apt to suffer from a variety of frightening injuries, including "haunted house throat" (a condition brought about by excessive screaming/howling) and "cleaver elbow" (a medical condition akin to tennis elbow in which the performer raises their arm too many times in one evening).

Still, haunted house owners and performers have identified scared customers as perhaps posing the greatest risk to workplace safety.

In fact, haunted house performers have been known to suffer serious physical injuries - broken noses, bite marks and other bodily trauma - caused by panicked patrons.

"It's common, absolutely," said Allen Hopps, an instructor who trains haunted house performers in the fine art of fright. "The problem isn't the haunted houses or the actors, but the customers. They forget that people are actors and have a flight-or-fight reaction towards the person scaring them, not realizing one might be a 16-year-old girl."

In light of these risks and the fact that most haunted house employees are independent contractors - therefore responsible for their own work injuries - many choose to keep coming back year after year.

However, many have also learned that there is a fine art to scaring the customers.

"How you scare someone five feet away is different than 15 feet away," said Hopps. "You can go 'bigger' when you're further away. If someone looks mortified, back off, because they're not having any fun."

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


The Huffington Post, "Working in a haunted house can be hazardous to your health" Oct. 26, 2011

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