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