2012- IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE OLYMPICS
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2012 – IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE OLYMPICS
Of all the opinions voiced about 2012, most have been about how the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee will put an extra strain on resources. Here, Heath Freeman, managing director of national crewing company, Pinnacle Crew, explains why he believes the effect of this on other events has been underplayed; and how the Olympics will be more than just a blip.

May to September have for a number of years been extremely busy months for the live events industry in the UK. This year with the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee occurring at the same time the industry really is going to be under pressure. But let’s not get too over-focused on these individual one-off events. The industry’s resources would, as ever, be strained without them.
I am sure we have all realised, however, that the Olympics and the Jubilee will not be just a blip in the live events calendar, but will leave a legacy that will continue into 2013 and beyond. The huge exposure being given to Great Britain and the enormous numbers of overseas visitors we are going to attract this year, provides event organisers with a fabulous opportunity, and we have seen events actually being created to take advantage of these factors. Most importantly, these new events will not just be one-offs.
This is an opportunity, the like of which, the events industry has not seen before and requires a careful balancing act.
In addition, our experience is that that very few existing events are being moved to avoid clashing with the Olympics and the Jubilee. Quite the contrary in fact – many of our client companies are still going ahead with their annual or bi-annual events, for example, the Farnborough Air Show.
Moreover, the Olympics, the Jubilee and the Paralympics are not going to affect just June to September. The build-up to them has already started, and the wind down from them will not end until late October.
All of this means that the normal natural lulls in live events activity are going to be missing this year. We and our workforce are not going to have time to sit back, take stock and recharge our batteries.
The industry and its suppliers must therefore ensure that this year’s events, high profile ones notwithstanding, continue to run smoothly and that client needs are met.
So what can we do to make sure that client companies remain happy in 2012 and continue to use our services in 2013 and beyond?
In my view, the most important action we, as a crewing company, can take is to communicate with client companies. We need to forewarn them of the busiest times, support them and encourage them to provide briefs well in advance. We need to be realistic, and give them the opportunity to be realistic too in their expectations of what can be done in what timeframe.
The appointment of a crewing company cannot be left to chance and we know, for example, that demand for event “savvy” crew will increase by 60 to 70 per cent as this year progresses.
The eyes of the world will be on Britain this year and scrutinising what we do. We all have a huge challenge ahead of us, but there is also a huge opportunity. I firmly believe that in 2012, the industry will see 10 years’ growth in one year; and that – provided we maintain good communication with our clients – the number of regular events spawned from 2012 will ensure the profitability of the industry for years to come.

A version of this article also appeared on eventindustrynews.co.uk on March 29, 2012

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Reducing the burden of health and safety rules
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REDUCING THE BURDEN OF HEALTH & SAFETY RULES

Earlier this year the Government launched its plans for reform of the health and safety system in Britain, and an independent review of legislation is currently under way.  Here, Heath Freeman, managing director of nationwide crewing company, Pinnacle Crew, looks at what this will mean to the live events industry.

 

“The burden of health and safety red tape has become too great, with too many inspections of relatively low risk and good performing workplaces, frequently poor health and safety advice to business from badly qualified consultants, and a complex structure for regulation.  The time has come for all this to change.”

So said the Government in its March paper “Good Health and Safety, Good for everyone – the next steps in the Government’s plans for reform of the health and safety system in Britain”.  And which of us in the live events industry would not agree with that?

Key to the proposed changes is to shift the whole focus of Britain’s health and safety regime to a “lighter touch” approach, concentrating efforts on higher risk industries and on tackling serious breaches of the rules.  Those organisations that pose a lesser threat and that do the right thing for their employees will be left free of unwarranted scrutiny.

By and large, the live events industry is well self-regulated, and we should welcome this less intrusive approach.  However, there have in recent times been instances of serious injury occurring, so less regulatory intervention does not mean less vigilance on our part.

The Health and Safety Executive will continue to play a central role in the modernisation of regulation and, with local authorities, is charged with ensuring that the regulatory system is focused on better health and safety outcomes and not purely technical breaches of the law,  that enforcement is proportionate to risk, that no unnecessary burden is placed on business that manages health and safety effectively, and that a strong deterrent is maintained against those who fail to meet their health and safety obligations.

In terms of the HSE’s own categorisation of industries, the Government’s document suggests that the live events sector falls within “non-major hazard industries” –  we cannot possibly be alongside the chemical and offshore sectors that are seen as major hazard industries.  The problem is, however, that the live events industry is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the documents the Government has published.

Non-major hazard industries are further sub-categorised into three sectors: those that present comparatively high risk where proactive inspection remains necessary; those where there remains comparatively high risk but proactive inspection is not considered as useful component of future interventions; and, those areas where proactive inspection is not justified in terms of outcomes.

The examples given for the first category are construction, waste and recycling, molten and base metal manufacture.  The second category includes agriculture, quarries, and health and social care; and lower risk areas include textile, clothing, footwear manufacturing; light engineering; transport sector; postal and courier services.

It seems logical to me that live events will probably fall into the first of these sub-categories as many of our health and safety issues and operator licences are similar to those in the construction industry; and I believe that venues and events are therefore likely to be subjected to continued proactive inspection.

A welcome fact is that the HSE wants to build and expand its joint working initiatives with industry to promote better health and safety and pass on good practice.  However, despite this, its work as the regulator in partnership with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and the Olympic Delivery Authority to facilitate a safe and successful London 2012 Games, has resulted in the most vague and unstructured health and safety requirements that many of us have ever seen.

More positively, the Government is committed to clamping down on rogue health and safety advisers.  To achieve this it has launched an official register of Occupational Health and Safety Consultants for those practitioners who are properly accredited to a professional body.  This move will make it easier for us all to access reliable, reputable advice.

Finally, as I write, an independent review of health and safety legislation commissioned by Chris Grayling, the minister for employment, is considering the scope for combining, simplifying or reducing the – approximately 200 – statutes owned by the HSE.  This is due to report by the end of October, and we can only hope that this rationalisation of health and safety legislation makes it as straightforward as possible for the live events industry to deliver a healthy and safe working environment.

A version of this article appeared in eventindustrynews: www.eventindustrynews.co.uk

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GOING FOR GOLD – MAKING THE MOST OF OLYMPIC OPPORTUNITIES
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GOING FOR GOLD – MAKING THE MOST OF OLYMPIC OPPORTUNITIES

Wherever your turn in the live events industry at the moment, everyone is talking about and has an opinion on London 2012.  But very few people seem to have a clear idea of the business opportunities available from the Olympic Games, much less how the tendering process works.  Here Heath Freeman, managing director of leading nationwide crewing company, Pinnacle Crew, cuts through the plethora of information and red tape to give a clear picture of how all suppliers should be approaching the Games.

 

Most contracts for services to deliver and stage the Olympic Games are being let by The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG).

LOCOG says that it “welcomes formal proposals from a wide selection of bidders”, and there seems to be three clear means of discovering what opportunities are available. The first is by registering with CompeteFor, an internet site that can be accessed via The London 2012 Business Network at www.london2012.com/business.  This acts as a brokerage service between potential suppliers and buyers throughout the London 2012 supply chain, and bidders who are successful in winning work with LOCOG will be encouraged to use CompeteFor to advertise any related business opportunities.

According to LOCOG “by using CompeteFor, buying organisations gain access to many thousands of potential suppliers who have registered on the site.”

Expanding on CompeteFor there is also a download that may be accessed from http://www.london2012.com/documents/business/future-competefor-opportunities-feb-aug-2011.pdf.  This provides a schedule of CompeteFor opportunities.

Further information may be obtained by registering for London 2012 business e-alerts at

https://www.london2012.com/settings/login.php?reason=businessProfile

The “formal proposals” are expected to be submitted for evaluation in response to an invitation to tender from LOCOG.  The results of the ITT process will lead to selected bidders either being invited to present their proposals for further scrutiny, or directly enter discussion and negotiation talks with LOCOG.  The award of contracts will be made based on what “is deemed the most appropriate match to LOCOG’s needs.”

Chief amongst these needs is value for money; although it is true to say that LOCOG’s view of value for money is different from that of some other organisations.  To support its vision for London 2012, it will be considering a broad range of criteria when assessing tenders.

LOCOG expects pricing to be competitive, make best use of discounts, value-in-kind agreements and other “innovative arrangements”.

Quality, delivery and disposal is at the heart of its Sustainability Sourcing Code (a document far too detailed to go into in-depth here), along with criteria on the environmental, social and ethical issues in connection with procurement.

Goods and services must be inclusive and support LOCOG’s aim of delivering an Olympic and Paralympic Games for everyone.  Successful bidders will have to demonstrate their commitment to being a diverse and inclusive organisation.

As with any other tendering process, suppliers must conform to LOCOG’s terms and conditions, and must be financially sound to assure supply.

Naturally, health and safety is also a key consideration.  Suppliers and licensees must comply with health and safety legislation and industry standards. LOCOG’s stated belief is that high H&S standards can be further achieved by visible leadership and personal commitment at all levels, combined with effective management in consultation with a trained and competent workforce. 

Bidders will probably be asked to tender via LOCOG’s eTendering system, but before being invited to view the ITT document will be requested to sign and return a confidentiality agreement.

During the tendering process, it is also likely that potential suppliers will be required to prepare a management plan, using a template provided.  This will need to be updated on a regular basis or whenever there is a change to the products or services being supplied.

Finding the way through all this bureaucracy is not going to be easy for any of us.  But London 2012 is not only going to be a prime business opportunity for everyone in the live events industry, it is also going to be an opportunity to showcase our abilities to the rest of the world.

A version of this article may be found in the May edition of Access All Areas: www.access-aa.co.uk

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OLYMPIC EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS NEED CLARITY
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OLYMPIC EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS NEED CLARITY

It seems that most of the live events industry agrees that the list of requirements for suppliers laid down by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is confusing and difficult to understand.  Here, Heath Freeman, managing director of leading nationwide crewing company Pinnacle Crew, tries to unravel the facts and make sense of the requirements on employment.

 

Most people I have talked to in the live events industry recently are saying that there are a great number of hoops to jump through to fulfill LOCOG’s requirements for suppliers at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.  And the standards set for the supply of staff and labour in LOCOG’s Sustainable Sourcing Guide adds yet one more confusion.

The Guide asks that “where suppliers and licensees intend to use temporary/agency staff they should seek to ensure that any labour providers supplying such staff are members of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and, if relevant, are licensed by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA)”.

On its website the GLA states that it is a government agency established to regulate those organisations that supply labour or use workers to provide services in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, shellfish gathering and food processing and packaging.

So as far as crewing and other staff supply companies in the live events industry are concerned, I think this can be safely ignored.

The REC, the representative body for the UK’s private recruitment and staffing industry, may be far more relevant to us.  But, there are certain areas that still need to be made clear.  For example, do organisations in the live events industry – such as crewing companies, providers of stand staff, production companies who employ freelancers – fall into the category of the “recruitment and staffing industry”?

If we look at the government’s The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003, the Employment Agencies Act 1972 and the Employment Relations Act 199, we will find definitions of employment agencies or employment businesses.

Broadly speaking an employment agency introduces work-seekers to client employers for direct, permanent employment by those employers.  Of more importance to the live events industry is the definition of an “employment business”.  To quote directly from the regulations:

“An employment business engages work-seekers under either contracts for services or contracts of employment and supplies those work-seekers to client hirers for temporary assignments or contracts where they will be under the hirers’ supervision or control”.

This is where we get into a grey area for crewing companies, suppliers of stand staff and the like, who in the main employ their staff on a job-by-job contract basis.  It is a highly moot point as to whether, once your team is on-site, whether they remain under your supervision and control or that of your client’s.

Even legal advice that we have taken does not make it any clearer.  We were told that in the end it comes down to who has the degree of control, who creates the schedule of work, and even if there is a team leader on site supervising crew, who supervises the team leader?

If we feel that it is our clients who have the ultimate control, then I believe each and every company that provides staff to the events industry needs to consider joining the REC as we could all be thought of as an employment business – not just by the law and regulations, but by LOCOG too.  And, since crewing and other staffing is often the last element of the supply chain to be put in place, we need to be prepared now rather than later when at the last minute – we may discover we cannot even be considered as an Olympics supplier.

Ideally, LOCOG itself needs to clear this up.  London 2012 is too important to all of us to miss opportunities because of a technicality.

A version of this article can be found in eventindustrynews: http://www.eventindustrynews.co.uk/2011/05/olympic-employment-regulations-need-clarity.html

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SUSTAINING LONDON 2012
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SUSTAINING LONDON 2012

 

Sustainability is going to be central to The London 2012 Organising Committee’s (LOCOG) procurement process.  So, with all eyes in the live events industry looking for tendering opportunities, just how does a potential supplier make sure they meet LOCOG’s requirements?  Heath Freeman, managing director of Pinnacle Crew, takes a look at LOCOG’s Sustainable Sourcing Code.

 

The most important requirement that LOCOG has when it comes to sustainable procurement is buried some way down in its 31-page Sustainable Sourcing Code. It expects all suppliers and licences that provide products and service to the events industry to be taking steps to implement BS 8901:2009 ‘Specification for a sustainability management system for events’.  How many of us are doing that, I wonder?  And how many of us knew that was in fact a requirement for gaining work at the Olympics?

Just as interestingly, while LOCOG is a company registered in England and Wales, it is not subject to EU procurement regulations.  However, it claims it “will adopt fair and sustainable procurement principles and processes…” and that “contracts will be awarded to businesses that reflect London 2012’s procurement policies and values”.

In particular, prospective suppliers and licensees need to ensure that their businesses and supply chains comply with LOCOG’s Sustainable Sourcing Code – a 31-page document that goes into great depth on the Committee’s approach to sustainable sourcing.

Put simply, LOCOG will look at where goods come from, who made them, what they are wrapped in and what will happen to them after the games.  In addition, when it comes to sourcing labour it intends to use the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code as the required standard that suppliers should achieve.  The ETI Base Code is founded on the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and is an internationally recognised code of labour practice.

Where suppliers and licensees intend to use temporary or agency staff they must ensure that labour providers are members of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and, if relevant, are licensed by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.

Overall, the Sustainable Sourcing Code requires suppliers and licensees to manage the environmental and social impacts of their business practices.  This means that suppliers have to meet certain core principles: responsible sourcing that ensures products and services are sourced and produced under internationally acceptable environmental, social and ethical guidelines and standards; maximising the use of materials with reused and recycled content, minimising packaging and designing products that can either be reused or recycled; maximising resource and energy efficiency and ensuring that appropriate substances and materials are used in order to protect human health and the environment.  In fact, LOCOG expects suppliers where appropriate to amend their business practices to ensure that they meet with the requirements of its Sustainable Sourcing Code.

For example, sustainability related certified products will need to carry a certification mark, such as those from the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, the Soil Association and the Rainforest Alliance.

Naturally, health and safety forms part of the Code; but the actual wording is rather non-specific.  It says:

“LOCOG is committed to creating and maintaining a positive health and safety culture which secures the commitment and participation of all its employees, volunteers, contractors, partners, suppliers and licensees.

“Suppliers and licensees must comply with health and safety legislation, industry standards, and LOCOG policies”.

It goes on to add:

“All suppliers of services will be required to be actively involved in working safely to mitigate health and safety risks and will report accidents and hazards to LOCOG…a suitable audit procedure will also be required for all suppliers of services.”

There will, of course, be particular sustainability objectives for particular tendering processes.  These will be outlined to all prospective bidders; and the evaluation criteria used by LOCOG at the Invitation to Tender (ITT) stage will include a range of criteria relating to value for money, including sustainability.

Suppliers and licensees will generally be asked to complete either a management plan or LOCOG’s Supplier and Licensee Sourcing Document.  This will help prove that the supplier is integrating the Code into the management process.

Even this simple outline shows how the Olympics tendering process could be long and complicated, so with some contracts already out there for bidding, it’s time all of us in the industry get on our bikes and make our pitches.  Let’s prove that the British events industry is the best in the world.

 

A version of this article can be found at www.eventindustrynews.co.uk

 

 

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VENUE INDUCTION COURSES – A WELCOME ADDITION?
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VENUE INDUCTION COURSES – A WELCOME ADDITION?

Induction courses run by venues are becoming more popular.  But do they really contribute to better H&S knowledge?  Here, Heath Freeman, managing director of Pinnacle Crew, looks at the pros and cons.

 __________________________________________________________________________________________________

Every company operating in whatever element of the live event industry has a responsibility to ensure good health and safety practice and training, and most will have in-house training associated with a regulated accredited body. 

But the importance of a co-ordinated effort in maintaining health and safety standards cannot be over-emphasised.  It is up to all of us in the industry – venues, production companies, organisers, contractors – to work together ensure that there is comprehensive knowledge of the health and safety implications at each and every event.

So it is good to see that more and more venues are taking the issue seriously by running health and safety induction courses before events.  Anything that contributes to good health and safety practice is to be welcomed.

We have always said that even a five-minute walk-round the venue adds to health and safety awareness, so with some of these induction courses being quite long and very comprehensive there is bound to be a benefit to be had.

However, having had experience of a variety of these induction courses, I do question whether “health and safety induction course” is something of a misnomer.   It often seems that they offer guidance on house rules such as “do not drag materials on this expensive marble floor”, rather than precise health and safety guidance that should have been “this is how you carry materials across this floor to prevent injury or accident”.

In a way, this is understandable and inevitable.  The courses are bound to be venue-focused when run by the venues.  They do, after all, have a vested interest in maintaining the standards of their buildings.  But this means that the courses are not necessarily aimed at the people with responsibility for health and safety, and that the basic rule of health and safety – “look after your own safety first, and then look after the safety of those around you” – is ignored.   

This is a missed opportunity and as a result, it is often left to the production or event organisation companies, very few of which run health and safety induction courses, to make sure that health and safety hazards are explained to everyone in the team.

Given all this, one cannot help but wonder whether venues are being forced into running health and safety induction courses by their insurance companies. 

Such courses may be a welcome addition to the health and safety mix, but with the way many are presented at present they would be better termed “venue induction courses” rather than “health and safety inductions”.  In this case, venues should also take on the responsibility of pointing out the specific hazards that the venue poses to the individual rather than exclusively the other way around.

 A version of this article may be seen in the October issue of The Main Event. www.themaineventmagazine.co.uk

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PROFESSIONAL CREW EQUALS SAFE CREW
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PROFESSIONAL CREW EQUALS SAFE CREW

Clients’ expectations within the industry of suppliers and their health and safety standards are steadily rising.  Here Heath Freeman, managing director of leading crewing company Pinnacle Crew, outlines how he believes crews can operate more professionally and safely to go that extra mile and really make a difference to a client.

 

There are a number of client expectations that any professional crewing company should meet.  These range from providing prompt quotes, being able to deal with last minute orders and amendments effectively, to offering a 24-hour service and additional crew to cover unforeseen problems, and having enough vehicles to move crew around the country within tight deadlines.

Just as importantly, it is to be expected that any crewing company worth its salt should be offering a dedication to on-going recognised health and safety training, with crew trained in the right competencies and equipped with the necessary tools, prepared to tackle – within health and safety boundaries – whatever needs to be done to allow the job to run smoothly.

In addition, health and safety is further assured by team leaders who are professional and trained in how to lead an effective crew.

These are all obvious offerings for a crewing company, but I believe there are a few less obvious factors that crewing companies should master to become truly professional.

Crew must have to have a willingness to learn; and understand what clients expect of them.  They also need to be aware of the health and safety factors that apply to a wide variety of equipment, and of the possible hazards.   This can be achieved by working with clients to provide training in other aspects of the industry, giving an insight into the various disciplines – such as staging, lighting, AV, power – that are encountered on site.  In this way clients are able to rely on crew to do so much more than merely carry heavy kit – and do it in a safe and effective way.

Beyond this initial type of training, I firmly believe in a system of on-site mentoring for all new crew.  New members should always work alongside an experienced senior crew  member for at least two months until they gain enough experience to assess and recognise hazards.

It should also be remembered that experienced crew are a resource, and, if used correctly, a very valuable resource.

Crews work on hundreds of jobs in a year.  This means that they have a unique insight into health and safety and operations on-site as they have seen numerous and perhaps similar jobs executed in a variety of ways.    In addition, crew come from many different backgrounds.  We have plumbers, electricians, chippies, firemen and engineers working for us.  They have a wealth of knowledge about efficient and safe methods of working that may be useful at no additional cost.

Regular client contact and feedback is also important in evaluating whether crew are operating efficiently and safely.  In this way, the service that is truly required is delivered and any issues resolved at an early stage.

Taken together, the result of proper training and client feedback is consistency of crew quality, safe crewing, and client confidence that even when things go wrong the crewing company will come up trumps every time.  

A version of this article appeared in the September issue of The Main Event www.themaineventmagazine.co.uk

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INTEGRATE FOR BETTER HEALTH AND SAFETY
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INTEGRATE FOR BETTER HEALTH AND SAFETY

 

These days everyone in our industry is looking at costs.  But what if there were a way to save money without compromising health and safety?  Heath Freeman, managing director of Pinnacle Crew believes there is – indeed that efficiency and health and safety can even be improved – by creating better integrated teams on site.

_____________________________________________________________________

In a previous life I was a teacher and a sports coach, and it became very apparent from the onset that knowledge was the key to building and successful sports team, besides all the hard training. This knowledge was about knowing what we were trying to achieve and how we are going to go about achieve this goal without team injuries.

I believe the same principles apply in our industry, especially on site as this is where all the hours, days and months of preparation that have been put in by the production company come to fruition.   The last thing anyone wants on site is different people working to different objectives.  Not only is this inefficient, it compromises health and safety.

Overcoming this is not rocket science.  Quite simply, creating a unified goal-orientated team working safely on site requires the proper integration of the production team and outside contractors.

But before proper integration can be reached, I believe there are three they key steps that need to be taken at every event.

First, introduce outside contractors to all personnel and decision makers on site.  This can save time during the job since contractors will know exactly who to speak to when something unexpected happens or they need advice.

Secondly, contractors should receive a good briefing. This may seem obvious, but how can the contractors possibly appreciate what the client is trying to achieve without knowledge?  A short, detailed briefing means that contractors know exactly what is expected of them and what the deadlines are.   The most important factor in this briefing should be information on what has already been carried out on site.  This will help contractors avoid any risks by making them fully aware of health and safety hazards.

The third factor that can be very valuable is a familiarization walk through of the venue.  This will also highlight such things as potential health and safety dangers.  And, remember many contractors will be able suggest alternative plans since it is very likely that they have worked at this venue before and have found safer, better and more efficient methods.

None of this costs anything, and in fact may even save money by empowering contractors to be more efficient.  Neither is it anything we don’t already know.  Unfortunately, it is just something that slips by the wayside when we are pressurised and deadlines are looming.  But for efficiency, better health and safety, and greater cost-effectiveness, I believe that it is time our industry took a step back and seriously looked at how it manages its on-site teams.

 

A version of this article was published in the August 2010 issue of The Main Event

www.themaineventmagazine.co.uk

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EQUIPPED FOR SAFETY
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EQUIPPED FOR SAFETY

In the second of his articles on health and safety, Heath Freeman managing director of Pinnacle Crew looks at the qualifications required for working with plant and equipment, and asks whether the live events industry should continue working with other organisations or have its own validation system for training.

 Health and Safety Regulations relating to plant and equipment – such as mobile access towers, forklifts and scissor lifts – require that such items should be assembled and used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training, and are therefore competent in their use.

The important word here is “competent”, its definition, and ultimately who or what measures it.

Training companies for their part have implemented training courses in various plant to instruct and test levels of competency, but they are not governed – even by the Health and Safety Directive which simply states that it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure its employees are competent in using and assembling this type of equipment. So, does this mean that it is the training companies that set training standards and competency levels?

This might have been the case historically, but today we have governing bodies like the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS), which is an HSE accredited body providing training for rider-operated lift trucks, and in turn accredits instructors and training providers. 

Other governing bodies include The Prefabricated Access Suppliers Association (PASMA), which accredits trainers to run a standard training course in the use, erection and inspection of mobile access towers.

Certain industries, like the construction industry, specify that if you use plant on site you must have a licence that is accredited by one of their governing bodies.  This makes sense to me because it eliminates any doubt or grey areas. 

Put quite simply, an organisation that governs and monitors training, sets standards of competency, and looks after the interests of a particular industry can only be a force for good.

Unfortunately, this process is not happening consistently in the live events industry.  Some venues require proof of competency, while others do not.  This is worrying and potentially hazardous.

I am not implying that we have plant operators on site who do not have licences.  However, they may possibly have acquired a version that is not monitored or endorsed by any governing body.  These are “in house” certificates of competency that training companies can provide at a reduced rate.  Again, I am not suggesting that these training programmes are inadequate, but it does mean is that it is the training companies that are setting these standards.

So should we change this?  I believe our industry trade organisations, of which there are many, should work together and establish, monitor and govern health and safety training standards that would benefit the entire industry.

Alternatively, as a sector we could adopt a monitored training scheme from one of the existing governing bodies in another industry (say the construction trade) and set this as our standard.

Either way, as our sector continues to strive for recognition from government, I believe that such initiatives would not only provide a meaningful progression in health and safety on site, but also give our sector more credibility.

A version of this article was published in the May/June issue of The Main Event (www.themaineventmagazine.co.uk).

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PASSPORT TO SAFETY
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PASSPORT TO SAFETY

 

With some high profile accidents resulting in prosecutions, and the Health and Safety Executive looking to reduce the incidence of accidents in the sector, health and safety is now where it should be – at the top of the agenda – in the live events industry.  Here, in the first of a regular column, Heath Freeman, managing director of Pinnacle Crew, looks at what people need to know on-site to ensure good health and safety practice.

 

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations requires employers to ensure that all their representatives on site, both permanent and freelance staff, have received adequate and formal training in all aspects of health and safety prior to commencing work.

In the live events industry there are some basic principles that require training to ensure we adhere to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance.  These include workplace safety, which covers occupational law, employer and employee responsibilities, risk assessment and a safe place of work.  Training in the correct and safe use of plant and machinery is another HSE requirement, as is health issues covering work equipment, electricity, noise, transport, hazardous substances, manual handling and stress.  Finally, training should also cover safe systems of work, emergency procedure, fire, accidents, pollution prevention and environmental issues.

In an ideal world every employer would have an in-house training programme that covers all of the above.  Furthermore such a training programme would be presented in such a way that it would make the issues relevant to their particular sector and hence easily understandable.

I leave you to judge whether this is happening throughout our sector. However, I find it encouraging that a new initiative specially designed for the live events industry is gaining momentum.  I refer to the Safety Passport Scheme.

This scheme comprises a one-day course aimed at the general live events workforce -production staff, stage hands, lighting and sound crew, stage and set builders, technicians, stewards, drivers, riggers, laser and pyrotechnic technicians, video and production crew.

Of course, there is a limit to what can be learned in one day; but if nothing else this scheme sets a basic standard for health and safety in our industry.

The scheme has existed in other sectors for some years, and has helped them achieve credibility and a reputation for taking health and safety seriously – something we should all be aiming for in our industry.

This simple concept helps establish a safety culture by providing a nationally recognised standard of health and safety training and assessment that is cost-effective, easily accessible, and tests individual knowledge in the form of an exam..

In addition, by introducing an industry-wide safety scheme we can raise awareness of our serious approach to health and safety.  Without setting industry wide basic standards, how are we to improve?  It is for this reason, if no other, I believe the Safety Passport is an important development in the live events industry. 

A version of this article appeared in Main Event magazine in April 2010.  www.themaineventmagazine.co.uk

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