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).