PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus misused a key rigging component in a hair-hanging stunt, causing a fall that seriously injured eight acrobats, federal workplace safety regulators said Tuesday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for a serious safety violation and proposed the maximum fine, $7,000, for the circus’ parent company, Feld Entertainment. It concluded circus staff had improperly loaded a carabiner clip.

The company disputed the finding and was deciding whether to contest it, said Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.