Safety News and Blog

We aim to provided event safety news and information on a regular basis. To help us improve this service we will always be pleased to hear from you with your ideas, news, information, comments and discuissions for this section . Please call Chris on 07831 437062 or contact us here, we welcome your call or mail.

The Institution of Structural Engineers publishes 4th edition of Temporary demountable structures

The Institution of Structural Engineers has published a new, fully revised edition of Temporary demountable structures: Guidance on procurement design and use, providing current and essential information for Event Organisers, Venue Owners, Local Authorities, Contractors and Suppliers responsible for the safe construction of temporary structures – including stages, grandstands, hospitality units, fencing, barriers and fabric structures of all sizes.

The 3rd edition (2007) was identified as a core reference requirement by LOCOG for London’s 2012 Olympic Games; and this new edition draws on the experiences and lessons learned from the project – where temporary structures were used on an unprecedented scale.

Supported by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, the latest edition embraces the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and contains extensive reference to current Codes/Standards including the Eurocodes. The principles described are likely to be appropriate for projects undertaken throughout the world.

The publication is priced £39 for Institution members and £69 for non-members and is now available to buy from The Institution of Structural Engineers’ Bookshop.

MICK UPTON

It is with great sadness that I anounce the passing of one of our industries great leaders, Dr Mick Upton. Mick was the undisputed leader and inovator of crowd management in the UK and was the founder of Showsec. Mick was a man of great kindness and a huge heart, he will be sadly missed by us all but he leaves us a great legacy. 

TERRORISM

With the recent attacks in London and Manchester it is timly to remind everyone that we can all play a part in the prevention of terrorism, if you see anything suppicous please report it imediatly. 

SPECIAL EFFECTS COMPANY FINED £16,000

A special effects company whose confetti cannon hit a woman in the face - leaving her permanently blinded in one eye - must pay a £16,000 fine.

James McMahon and Tory Harper, who ran Knowsley -based UK Effects.co.uk Ltd were described by a judge as “naive and cavalier” over the accident at Liverpool super-club Cream.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how Kitty Dollah was seriously hurt when the “Stadium Shot” cannon was discharged at around 1am on December 27, 2013.

The cannon had been installed in the courtyard and dance areas of the Wolstenholme Sq nightclub and had been fired five times before the accident occurred.

The shot hit Ms Dollah in the face, knocking her off her feet, and leaving her covered with blood.

Judge Elizabeth Nicholls said: “The shot knocked a number of people over and caused serious injuries to Kitty Dollah who sustained significant facial injuries and now has lost the use of one of her eyes.

“The Stadium Shot was then switched off.

“Kitty Dollah describes being taken to hospital and there was revealed the significance of injuries sustained to her face. Her eye socket was smashed up.

“She couldn’t eat properly and had to eat food supplements. It was a horrendous state she found herself in.

“Tragically, she was readmitted to surgery and discovered she’d lost sight in her right eye.

“She was completely shocked - and described her face as ‘completely smashed up’ and that “she looked a mess”.

“Not only was there pain and discomfort, but there was the psychological impact which it must have had on Kitty Dollah.

“She still has psychological problems as a consequence of the injuries sustained on what should have been a pleasant night on December 26, 2013.

“Her statement is a reminder of the importance of creating a safe environment and the responsibilities companies bear to their employees, workers and members of the public.”

The court heard how the Stadium Shot, which should be discharged at least 25m away from a person, was inappropriate for use in an indoor nightclub.

A less powerful cannon, called a Power Shot, would potentially have been more suitable, the court was told.

Effects.co.uk Ltd was ordered to pay a fine of £16,000 after admitting a single breach of the Health and Safety Act.

They must also cover the legal costs of the prosecution, which amounts to a further £16,000, and which was led by Liverpool Council’s environmental health team.

Peter Horgan, defending, said: “They recognise they have let themselves down, and more importantly Miss Dollah.

“In the ensuing four years, no further breaches have been occasioned.”

POLICING AND CRIME ACT 2017

The recently revised Policing and Crime Act 2017 now makes it illegal for individuals to carry pyrotechnic articles at music events, namely, festivals.

“Section 134 – Possession of pyrotechnic articles at musical events”, now states: “(1) It is an offence for a person to have a pyrotechnic article in his or her possession at any time when the person is (a) at a place where a qualifying musical event is being held, or (b) at any other place that is being used by a person responsible for the organisation of a qualifying musical event for the purpose of (i) regulating entry to, or departure from, the event or (ii) providing sleeping or other facilities for those attending the event.”

The act also states that this doesn’t apply to the event organisers who may still provide organised firework and pyrotechnic displays at their events as part of the organised entertainment. The new legislation follows complaints from festival attendees and organisers that disruptive behaviour revolving pyrotechnics was a problem at festivals.

ANTI TERRORISM

Following the tragic incident on Westminster Bridge and at the Palace of Westminster it is important that the police security stance and the private sector are joined up. To ensure this NaCTSO recommend businesses consider some protective security tactics to aid their security, whilst remembering that the threat level remains at ‘SEVERE’.

You should refresh the knowledge of security staff that have received Project Griffin and Project Argus training, all staff should be encouraged to proactively challenge visitors, vehicles, and anything out of place.

It is important that you review your security plans particularly around crowded places, night-time economy, and iconic sites.

You should also review your building and business continuity plans in the light of this attack. First aid points should be checked to make sure they are fully stocked and the location of key equipment is made clear to all staff. NaCTSO also recommend that staff refresh themselves on Run, Hide, Tell advice. The number of casualties treated by the public highlights the importance of understanding first aid.

NEWTRADE MAGAZINE

I am pleased to announce a new industry magazine called Load-In International, unlike most other magazines this one is aimed a crew rather than promoters so I hope for an eclectic mix within its pages.

A UK-based and independently-run digital publication, Load-In is currently published 10 times a year and is targeted at the people on the front line of live production – from production and tour managers to the designers, engineers, technicians, riggers and all points in between.

Health and safety will be a regular column feature that I am delighted to be writing for the publication. Full details can be found at www.load-ininternational.com

TRAGIC NEWS

Recently a tragic accident took place at at Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle (15,500-cap.) in Stuttgart, Germany after a show by Avenged Sevenfold when a house rigger fell approximately 20 meters onto a local crew person who was working below. The local crew person was killed and the rigger suffered very serious injuries. 

It would be wrong to speculate as to what exactly happened especially as a formal accident investigation by the authorities is taking place but a substance that helps objects accelerate at an incredible rate towards the ground and known as gravity was involved.

I am not very familiar with German H&S Law but work at height is under an EU directive and so should be similar to UK Law where the Work at Height regulations state that nobody except essential ground riggers should below workers above in case of falling objects or persons. It’s all very well making the area a hard hat zone but hard hats do very little to stop a falling person. For years our industry has ignored this legislation, we don’t have enough time is the reason given but that will not hold water in a Court of Law in a case of negligence against duty holders.

This needs to be in your risk assessments for work at height. 

BREXIT AND HEALTH AND SAFETY IN THE CONCERT TOURING INDUSTRY

We still don’t know with any certainty what Brexit will bring us but we still need to trade with Europe and for our music industry acts to tour easily in Europe. Leaving Europe could bring a raft of problems with the requirement for Visas, Carnets, Permits and the requirement to comply with EU health and safety standards and regulations that may eventually be different to what we recognise in the UK.

I know some people think that on leaving the EU we can get rid of all the health and safety legislation that we had to comply with as part of the EU but that is simply not the case. Many of the regulations that Europe made us adopt are very good indeed, in particular the Work at Height Regulations, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, the Manual Handling Regulations, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations and we really do need them so it is fortunate they are already adopted and enshrined in the UK as Statutory Instruments, that is to say they have now been approved by both Houses of Parliament and have gained Royal Ascent so they are now part of UK Law and will remain so until repealed and that is not at all likely.

If or when we do leave the EU there is every probability that the UK will still voluntarily adopt some new EU regulations that we find either very sensible or useful to enable us to trade and travel with ease in the EU.

PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE

On almost a daily basis I still come across “freelancers” who for some inexplicable reason think that they don’t need their own Public Liability Insurance, they are usually the older and long in the tooth ones who have been working in the industry for years and remember the old days when nobody had insurance or paid tax, things have changed a lot since those heady days and Public Liability is now essential for all self-employed crew. I personally think that those who don’t have any insurance are unprofessional, very arrogant and very selfish and I am glad I don’t have to work with them, they don’t understand what it means to be properly self-employed and running their own business, they want all the perks of being employed and the tax rules of being self-employed all at the same time. It doesn’t work like that.

What is public liability insurance? – A quick guide.

Public liability insurance will protect you if you cause an injury to another member of staff or crew, a member of the public, or property belonging to another business or individual.

You should consider taking out public liability insurance if you perform work at places of work owned by third parties and let’s face it, we all work at venues owned by a third party.

Public liability insurance – what does it cover?

A public liability insurance policy will protect you from claims made by third parties for injuries to the person, or damage to property caused as a result of your work activities.

A typical policy will pay for the cost of putting right any damage, or medical fees in the case of injuries. It will also cover the potentially crippling costs of legally representing you, related expenses, and any damages you are found to owe in relation to a claim.

Examples of public liability insurance claims

To help illustrate how public liability insurance works in practice, here are some classic scenarios where public liability cover will protect your business:

  • A self-employed backline tech is on tour with a band. He accidentally lets a flight case roll off the side of the stage that causes some severe and permanent damage to the contents, a number of very valuable vintage guitars.
  • An electrician works on a mains distribution system. He doesn’t fit the “trips” correctly, resulting in several circuits getting burnt out and equipment damage.
  • A member of the public trips over some cable left in an aisle. The policy will cover the costs of treating the injury caused to the member of the public and any compensation claims.
  • A rigger drops a spanner whilst he is working in the roof space; it falls and narrowly misses a ground riggers head but hits and breaks his shoulder. Again, the policy covers the cost of treatment and any subsequent compensation claims.  

How much cover do you need?

Cover tends to start at the £1 million mark, and can be purchased in increments up to £5 million or £10 million.

In some cases, you may be contractually required to take out a certain amount of cover, for example, if you do work for a local authority, or for the organisers of the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics etc.  Otherwise, it is up to you to choose the level of cover you think is sensible for your work.

Public liability definition explained

Public liability insurance is there in case you find yourself on the end of a compensation claim.

If someone is injured or their property is damaged and you are found legally liable for that, it’s public liability that provides the cover you need to resolve a claim.

It really should be seen as an essential business expense and the cost is tax deductible.

What does it cover?

You will probably be aware of the kind of risks your business involves but we all know that accidents can happen to anyone.

A good Public Liability policy insures you for a range of unforeseen circumstances, this could be serious accidents with tools or equipment or something as simple as spilling coffee onto a client's equipment.

A common standard level of cover is up to £1million. But most insurers understand that every business is different, which is why they offer the opportunity to increase Public Liability cover for up to £10 million for an additional premium.

You can also choose to include elements like Employer's Liability Insurance and cover for subcontractors, tools and equipment.

Who needs it?

Anyone could face a compensation claim. As such, every business needs public liability cover.

Even if the business that you run is small, or you're a sole trader, assuming that you can do without public liability could have a significant impact on the financial health of your business.

For example, if a client trips on a loose lead on stage, you could face a claim that could costs thousands if you're uninsured. Without public liability insurance, the cost to cover this claim would come directly from you. So it's important to make sure that you're covered.

Why do I need public liability cover for my business?

When accidents happen you want to put right what’s gone wrong as quickly as possible. That’s why you need public liability cover.

It means you can concentrate on keeping your business going without the extra worry of a compensation claim or legal fees.

It's also worth noting that, for some businesses - if you work in the public sector for example,  you will often be required to take out a minimum of £5 million worth of cover to be considered for a contract.

I don’t need Public Liability Insurance; I am covered by my employers insurance and they have insurance for all their equipment.

Of course you are covered by your clients Public Liability Insurance, if you or your equipment is damaged by your client’s activities then their insurance will cover any claims you make against them and they can claim on their own insurance for any loss or damage to their own equipment. If you ask an insurer if you are covered by the producion company, the artist or their management companies insurance then they will quite correctly say yes, what they don't say is only when you are the victim and not the cause of the problem.

So when you accidentally damage their equipment they can also claim on their own insurance to replace it but it will not be long before their insurance company comes after you as the person responsible, so they can recover their losses and its then you need to have insurance to cover their claims for losses.  

You may also be deemed to be an employee of the business who covers you by its Employers Liability Insurance, as it would be in this case, you can’t have it both ways, are you an employee or self-employed? A self-employed person needs their own insurance but by law, an employed person must be covered by their Employers Liability Insurance.

How much does public liability insurance cost?

There’s no standard price for public liability insurance. The amount you pay will depend on many factors such as the nature of your business, your claims history and the level of cover you need but about £150 - £200 per year is about right. 

What is proof of public liability?

If your business involves contract work you will sometimes be asked to provide proof of public liability cover. This is to assure your client that you have a suitable level of cover for the nature of the work you are being asked to do. 

You will usually need to provide the schedule of insurance which is sent out to you when you purchase your insurance policy to prove that you're covered for public liability.

How do I get public liability cover?

A few insurers offer flexible public liability cover to suit our industry needs. If you're a sole trader or a small business they can provide you with the right public liability insurance for your business.

You can apply for insurance quickly and easily online. When you apply for a quote you will be asked a few questions about you and your business and a premium will then be worked out from this information.

For public liability insurance quotes they may consider the type of business you have,  the number of employees you have (if any), what kind of liability claims you have had and your health and safety record.

It's quick and easy to get public liability insurance - apply online for a insurance quote today to ensure your business is adequately protected against claims from anyone. 

The three companies listed here provide Public Liability Insurance especially for people working in our industry; you will receive an individual policy from them. Do not be tempted by the cheap cover offered by some trade unions who offer a group cover without an individual policy and many restrictions in the small print. A lot of businesses now refuse to engage crew with this cheap type insurance cover so be warned.

Robertson Taylor Insurance Brokers   www.rtworldwide.com

Doodsons Insurance Brokers      www.doodsonbg.com

Crew Cover     www.crewcover.com

Please note that Robertson Taylor and Doodsons Insurance Brokers are both now owned by W&P Longreach.

So come on promoters, event organisers, production and tour managers, make sure you only engage crew with the right insurance so everyone is protected. 

BS7671 17th EDITION AND BS7909 REVISIONS 

Both of these standards are being updated to incorporate a range of amendments including the newer RCD types available (and useful to the events industry needs). The 18th Edition of BS7671 will be out for public comments in February 2017 with publication due in 2018. Refresher training will be required for electricians.

The inspection and testing needs of temporary systems covered under BS7909 are being developed to support simpler and more effective methods for plug and play systems. It is important that evidence of testing is available for these systems and there are simple plug in testers to provide this information as the work is energised. A reasonable and practical understanding of the output data is necessary to ensure safety and training is available form many different providers including BECTU, Skillset and others including James Eade (james@emech.uk.com).

CABLE STRIKES 

Any information on cable strikes would be welcomed in confidence by the HSE, there is a feeling that many cable and similar utility strikes are not being reported or we are now more successful in detecting them underground. Within the wider construction industry cable strikes often result in a painful and untimely death and consequently the HSE produced the documentation on avoiding danger from underground services many years ago for that very reason (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg47.pdf). CAT Radio Detection tools are cheap to hire and (with instruction) simple to use; alternatively, there are many contractors providing a detection service to festivals and greenfield events.

NON-INTROGATED WORKING PLATFORMS ON LIFT TRUCKS 

The HSE are keen to identify the continuing use and misuse of man-rider cages on fork lift trucks and telehandlers in events, but recognise that they can be used with a degree of safety externally, they have no place inside of a building. Please contact Gavin Bull at the HSE to pass on any information that can help improve the use of the correct access equipment - Gavin.Bull@hse.gov.uk .

AL BEACHEY 

Sadly I have to report the passing of Al Beachey last week, Al was an excedingly good rigger who worked for Neg Earth for many years and was head rigger for them at Glastonbury. Al will be missed by us all and there will be a gathering of his friends to celebrate his life at the Hope and Anchor in Upper Street, Islington on the 18th. of December starting at 2pm. 

I FORGOT MY PPE!

Is this bullying or an acceptable punishment?

NEW BOOK EDITION

Well finally after several years of updates I have finally got the third edition of my book "Health and Safety Management in the Live Music and Event Industry" off to the publishers, I don't think it will be published this year but look out for it towards the end of January, its published by Entertainemnt Technology Press.

FIRST AID AT WORK

Possessing first aid skills and basic equipment can save lives not only at work but also in our domestic and social lives. It is hoped that this will encourage people to obtain the required qualifications and for employers to make their companies and premises compliant with the regulations, I tend to find when I take on a new client company that they have little or nothing in place in terms of first aid provision and are reluctant to send staff on first aid courses, a situation that certainly needs to change.

Every year in the UK up to 150,000 people lose their lives when first aid could have given them the chance to live, yet we still have one of the lowest levels of First Aid training in Europe.

These regulations apply to almost all workplaces. For events, a full first aid / medical plan should be prepared, this will usually be required as part of the Premises License application.

Perhaps the least compliant sector in our industry are tours, everyone seems to think it is somebody else’s responsibility to provide first aiders and first aid facilities. The contractors and freelancers think it’s a production responsibility and production thinks it’s a venue responsibility. Both are incorrect, as they have no obligation to provide first aid facilities to anyone except their own employees and under these regulations, there is a legal requirement for employers (promoters, artists, managers, production companies, venues or service companies) to provide, such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first aid to be rendered to their employees if they are injured or become ill at work. The self-employed are required to provide themselves with a small first aid kit that is sufficient to treat themselves while at work. This applies even when they are working away from the employer’s main place of business such as on site, in a venue, rehearsal space or on a tour. Employers also have a responsibility to inform their employees of the arrangements that have been made in connection with the provision of first-aid, including the location of equipment, facilities and the identity and location of personnel trained to administer first aid. This should be part of the basic training given to new employees when they first join a company or business and are part of the induction training at each new site or venue where staff and crew are sent to work.

In other words this means ‘qualified’ First Aiders at Work or Emergency First Aiders at Work. Emergency First Aiders may be sufficient in low risk situations such as an office, when the work place is equipped with a telephone to contact the emergency services and access is not a problem but additional training may be required in some situations depending on the type and level of risk.

During most events we end up working at there is usually adequate first aid provision during the event itself but employers should never assume that this will be available to the staff they send to work on site unless agreed in advance in writing, there are danger times during the load in/outs before the medical teams and stewards arrive or after they have left.

To cover ourselves in a touring/festival situation where employees of more than one employer (and self-employed persons) are working together, and to avoid the duplication of provision, then an arrangement should be made whereby one of the employers or the ‘tour/festival/show production’ provides all the necessary First Aid equipment and facilities. It is now a requirement under the CDM Regulations 2015 for the Principal Contractor (usually the Production Company) to ensure there is sufficient First Aid provision but don’t assume this will be the case, check and get it agreed in writing.

This agreement should be in writing and a copy kept by each employer (and self-employed person) concerned. Where such an agreement is made, each employer should inform his/her own employees of the arrangements for first aid.

First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid training is easily available all over the UK in most towns at collages, from the Red Cross, St John Ambulance and various commercial providers, a quick internet search will find a provider near you. 

Businesses are Companies are required to carry out Risk Assessment to establish what level of first aid cover is required and are required to pay course costs for their employees. 

AWARD SHOWS

As a regular reader of the music and event industry trade press I am now totally overwelemed by the number of industry awards shows all of which seem to me to be very similar, this has now got to the point where I am now thinking of starting a new awards show in honour of the best industry awards show! 

OCTOBER

This week was quite a busy week with the Showman's Show taking pole postion. It was great to see and meet with so many of you there. Unlike so many other shows of this type the Showman's Show does know where it is going and what is audance wants. Its in a good central location, free parking and free entry make it easy for visitors and exhibitors alike and exhibitors certainly seemed to be doing brisk business and as its an outdoor event show and held outdoors you get a chance to see goods and services being demontrated in a real life situation. Very positive. 

SHOWMAN'S SHOW

As usual I will be heading off to Newbury Showground  for the the Showman's Show on Wednesady 19th October where I hope to meet up with as many people as possible so if you want to discuss projects and work or just want to chat please give me a call on 07831 437062 or send me a text or email. I look forward to hearing from you and meeting you. 

HSE SURVEY - INSPECTION AND THOROUGH EXAMINATION OF WORK EQUIPMENT

The HSE is reviewing the requirements in health and safety legislation for the inspection or thorough examination of work plant and equipment.  They want to hear views from all types of business about how well these requirements are working and how they might be improved to promote effective and proportionate approaches to equipment inspection. 

The work will consider the requirements for inspection or thorough examination of work plant and equipment contained in the following regulations:

  • The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
  • The Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR)
  • The Work at Height Regulations 2055 (WAH)

Between now and January 2017 HSE willl be gathering evidence and seeking views from stakeholders across industry about where improvements might be made.

They are seeking to report on findings and make recommendations by March 2017.  Improvements will then be implemented over the following two years

You can undertake the survey here on the HSE website.

NEW TRAINING AVAILABLE

STAGESAFE are now pleased to offer Health and Safety and Fire Safety to Event Stewards, for full details please click here!

BVEP TO COOORDINATE EVENTS INDUSTRY RESOPONSE ON BRETIX IMPACT TO INFORM GOVERENMENT REVIEW

The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) has been invited to co-ordinate the views and concerns of the events industry surrounding Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, as part of initial reviews being carried out by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS).

 Launching as a follow-up to the pre-referendum survey that the association undertook ahead of the vote, the BVEP will be surveying the entire industry and reporting the results back to the government with one clear voice in representation of the industry’s interests in forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

The ‘BVEP Events Industry Referendum Impact Survey’ includes questions surrounding; recent cancellation experience, primary concerns and key priorities for event businesses, what EU legislation they would like to see kept and what they would like to see scrapped plus also the chance to comment on any opportunities they have noted since the referendum.

Following the results of the survey, representatives of the BVEP and the newly formed Events Industry Board will meet with ministers over the summer to discuss the initial finding and begin to formulate an approach to ensure that the views of the events industry are fully taken into account during any Brexit negotiations.

The BVEP Events Industry Referendum Impact Survey can be found by clicking here. 

FLOODING AT FESTIVAL No. 6

The park and ride system at Festival No.6 came in for some severe criticism from festival goers who attended this event in Portmeirion in early September, many claimed they have been waiting for up to four hours as tractors tow cars out of the water-logged car parking field that locals say is a well-known flood plain and that the organisers should have known better than to use the area as a car park.

Organisers say any damaged vehicles are insured. A statement on the festival’s website said: “If your vehicle has sustained any damage the festival is fully insured and will help you resolve any potential claim but we suggest you contact your motor insurance in the first instance to ensure your claim is processed quickly.”

Organisers have defended criticism, saying they were not warned against using the site.

Porthmadog council has now called for the Welsh Government to carry out an inquiry into the problems.

The Welsh Government, which provides funding for the festival, said, as with all such events, it would be "conducting a full post-event review, with the event organisers and local partners" in due course.

Tractors had to tow hundreds of stranded vehicle clear, with some festival-goers forced to take refuge in a makeshift shelter at Porthmadog's Glaslyn leisure centre overnight.

Both Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Gwynedd council have said Festival No.6 organisers knew the park-and-ride facility was on a flood plain and had been warned of a flooding risk.

Stagesafe advise all outdoor event organisers to get to know their site in all possible conditions before committing themselves to using a particular site and to ensure suitable and sufficient contingency plans are in place to deal with all possible eventualities. Event organisers have a Duty of Care to all their visitors. 

DEATH BY TREE

A man has been killed by a falling tree as he slept in a tent during the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Police said the camper was crushed by a “very large” tree that injured another man who was sleeping next to him.

He was pronounced dead at the scene while a 35-year-old man was wounded.

Police said the tree is believed to have been toppled by "natural occurrences".

STAGESAFE advise that you get a "competent person" (such as a tree sergeon) to look at the trees on your event site prior to your event to ensure thay are safe. 

FIRE AT BOOM TOWN FESTIVAL

A huge fire has distroyed 80 cars in one of the car parks at Boom Town Festival in Hampshire. At its height, six fire crews battled the fire. The car park next to the cap site was evacuated as a precaution. Nobody was injured.   

STAGESAFE wants to start a campaign to encourage more people in the industry to undertake basic fire safety awareness training that in many cases is an employers duty to provide for his or her employees. Cars are (or should be) banned from camp sites as they are not only a danger to pedestrans, especially children, but the mixture of petrol, oil and nylon (from tents) together make napalm!

                            

Earlier in August, 422 cars caught ablaze in the parking lot on the third day of dance and music event Andanças Festival in Castelo de Vide, Portugal . No serious injuries were reported but three people were assisted by medical staff on site, with two admitted to hospital after inhaling smoke. 

HAZARDS OFF

The HAZOFF campaign was a resounding success during the 2013 festival season with hardly a flash to be seen at a major British festival but that situation is reverting back in some places with drivers again being requested to turn on their hazard warning lights.

The majority of event professionals agree it is counterproductive and in some circumstances may be dangerous on site and back on the road when drivers forget to cancel them.

It’s far more important to be able to indicate your proposed direction of travel and if additional visibility is required use dipped headlights or a beacon. You can get a beacon with a magnetic base to attach to the top of your car and which plugs into the cigarette lighter for a few pounds.

The situation has not been helped by the requirement being included in the old Event Safety Guide (HSG 195) which is the Health and Safety Executive’s guide to event safety and a point of reference for event organisers, licensing officers and enforcement agencies. The legal situation is quite clear and it’s important to remember that the Road Traffic Act applies to all outdoor sites once the public has been admitted to the site.

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989

Regulation 27

Hazard warning signal device [may not be] used other than–

(i) to warn persons using the road of a temporary obstruction when the vehicle is at rest; or

(ii) on a motorway or unrestricted dual-carriageway, to warn following drivers of a need to slow down due to a temporary obstruction ahead; or

(iii) in the case of a bus, to summon assistance for the driver or any person acting as a conductor or inspector on the vehicle.

The Highway Code

Para 116 (2012 edition)

Hazard warning lights.

These may be used when your vehicle is stationary, to warn that it is temporarily obstructing traffic.

Never use them as an excuse for dangerous or illegal parking.

You MUST NOT use hazard warning lights while driving or being towed unless you are on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and you need to warn drivers behind you of a hazard or obstruction ahead.

Only use them for long enough to ensure that your warning has been observed.

Remember,  HAZARDS OFF, don't be a part of the problem.

WEATHER

One of the main talking points of the English is the weather, bad weather can make conditions on event sites and roads very dangerous, rain, wind and mud being the three worst factors.

The temptation to rush jobs or skimp on safety matters must be resisted and even more care must be taken with electrical safety. Vehicles and equipment may get stuck in mud and need to be towed out, if this is the case stewards must be used to keep onlookers at a safe distance and only chains or tow ropes used that are well with in the safe working loads, the use of temporary road way should be considered. Forklift trucks must never be used for towing other vehicles, tractors with tow chains are the safe option.

Extra care must be taken with vehicles, plant and machinery to prevent slipping and skidding in wet and muddy conditions. Staff must be advised to attend for work with suitable warm and waterproof clothing and footwear in cold and/or wet weather and suitable sun block (Factor 15 or above) and covering for the skin to prevent burning or sun stroke in hot sunny weather, waterproof and warm clothing, footwear and sun block are classed as PPE to be provded by an employer. 

Long term exposure to the sun will speed up ageing of the skin and increases the chance of skin cancer in later life, staff must be advised to keep there tops on and wear a wide brimmed hat to protect the head, face and neck from the suns harmful ultraviolet rays. In hot weather staff should drink plenty of liquid but not alcohol. Try to avoid working in the sun, rotate work operations to avoid the sun if possible. Working in the sun can be very stressful and judgement can be impaired with the onset of even minor heat exhaustion. Seek prompt medical advice if you think you have a skin problem, skin cancer caused by to much exposure to the sun is extreamly common.

GREEN AND BROWN FIELD SITE HAZARDS

Many outdoor events are held on green and brown field sites that may contain a number of additional hazards not encountered elsewhere, these include Lime Disease, Ring Worm, Tetanus and Leptospirosis (also known as Weils Disease).

Where ever possible employees should keep away from hedges and fences to avoid cuts, scratches, thorns, brambles and barbed wire.

Any person who suffers a wound from one these sources should seek medical assistance and advice as these wounds can be contaminated by Tetanus. The soil on outdoor sites is likely to be contaminated by animals with Tetanus.

Employees should cover all broken skin with waterproof plasters before starting work and wear P.P.E. such as gloves.  Wash your hands after work and always before eating, drinking or smoking.

Employees are advised to keep up to date with anti-tetanus vaccinations from their G.P. and to have all cuts obtained on outdoor sites examined by a Doctor.

Employees must not climb trees, walls or other objects and structures on outdoor sites unless the structure has been specifically installed and designed to be climbed and all safety precautions and procedures are strictly followed. 

Wherever possible employees should stay clear of ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, ditches, pools and puddles and never wash hands in such bodies of water as they may contain a bacteria infection known as Leptospirosis. This disease is carried by rats and cattle in their urine. This is a serious and sometimes fatal infection that can enter the body through small cuts and scratches and through the lining of the mouth throat and eyes after contact with infected water and urine, it may also contaminate cattle feed stuffs on farms.  All sightings of rats should be reported.

Employees should cover all broken skin with waterproof plasters before starting work and wear P.P.E. such as gloves, Wellington boots and barrier cream, this is especially important when collecting in equipment (particularly cables) after a show that may have become contaminated with sewage, vomit or urine (Human or animal).  Wash your hands after work (with soap, water and antiseptic) and always before eating, drinking or smoking. Try to avoid involuntarily actions such as rubbing the face, nose mouth or eyes.

If any employee suspects they may have been in contact with Leptospirosis, especially if they develop a flu-like illness and severe headache they should report to a Doctor as soon as possible and state that they suspect they may have contacted Leptospirosis. If treated promptly, Leptospirosis is much less severe.

ARENA SAFETY SURVEY

Earlier this year I carried out a very informal survey involving four different touring acts visiting various UK arena venues,  the results were quite surprising as follows:

  • Crew not wearing PPE, self-employed touring crew were the main culprits and not local crew.
  • Touring and local crew wearing black reflective tabards and not high viz.
  • No inductions given to any crew despite advice that they should be given. They are a legal requirenment of the CDM regulations and can save lives.
  • Venue H&S requirements varied considerably, some require a full range of health and safety documents including PAT and LOLER certification, some just required Certification for rigging motors (but not all the rigging equipment for some strange reason) and some (the majority) requested nothing, those who did request information did not properly check the documents provided.  
  • No venues requested evidence of “competence” except (in one case) for riggers to hold Level 2 or 3 NRC.
  • No venues in the survey equipotential bonded temporary stages and (if required) stage sets and then earthed them.
  • With the exception of two (out of 15), no venues requested any CDM documents. 
  • None of the touring productions had a First Aider among the touring crew and very few individuals knew how to report an accident or incident.  
  • Among the touring crews there was almost no fire safety awareness and nobody had any basic fire safety training.

I will allow readers to reach there own conclusions but its obviously not a satisfactory situation. Venues are our place of work, they must be safe but sadly most are not. 

CROWD MANAGEMENT

A great deal of confusion exists with security, crowd management and crowd control, does your event have the right staff for the job?

Definitions:

Crowd management:

The systematic planning for, and supervision of, orderly movement, assembly and dispersal of people

NOTE: Crowd management involves the assessment of the people handling capabilities of a space prior to its use. It includes:

  • evaluation of projected levels of occupancy;
  • of means of ingress and egress;
  • processing procedures, such as assisting and directing members of the public;
  • expected types of activities and group behaviour;
  • the assessment of the artist or attraction profile
  • the assessment of audience demographic
  • evaluation of crowd dynamics and crowd safety.

A crowd safety manager must have the ability to conduct a crowd risk analysis and design a crowd management plan based on knowledge of crowd dynamics and crowd psychology.

The Police usually use the term crowd control - what you do after a crowd has gone out of control (shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted) and the use often heavy handed “contain and control”  techniques, not what is required at most events and is definitely not crowd management!

The problem:

Within the live events industry many people (including SAG members, event industry press and the ill-informed) think the terms H&S, crowd management, crowd control and security are interchangeable terms, they are not, they are all very different and are all very important.

In the crowd management sector there are many retired Police officers (often with an arrogant attitude) who think they know all there is about crowd management (the usual way of identifying they know nothing is by their use of the term crowd control and not crowd management.

The simple truth is there is not enough work to go round in many areas and many of us have a continual struggle to get enough work to survive, this includes some of the pioneers in the event safety sector who have paid their dues and gained many years industry experience all the relevant  safety qualifications and have for many years have been involved with education and setting industry standards that previously did not exist.

The other problem is that production managers, promoters and event organisers do not know what to look for and what the required qualifications and standards are for crowd safety managers and they will always go for the lowest quote, unfortunately they do not fully understand the dangers and consequences of that option or if they do they are willing to gamble and take risk.  

LA officers SAG representatives and many others often think that H&S advisors and crowd safety managers are one of the same; the truth is they are totally different roles, most events need both!

The concept of crowd management is often confused with security and even worse crowd control, the situation is further compounded by the Police who often think they know everything about crowd management.

The whole situation is exasperated by the event industry press who do not understand the whole situation outlined above and use incorrect terminology and run articles, press releases and other information submitted to them from companies and individuals who do not meet the best industry standards but spend money on advertising with those publications.

Crowd management guru Mick Upton has long advised Licensing for event safety advisers and crowd safety managers, a great idea but who will run and administrate such a scheme?

There is also the NVQs Level 2, 3, and 4: Certificate in Spectator Safety, this is a qualification designed for use only at sports stadiums, it is primarily based on customer care and there are no elements of crowd management within this qualification, it is not designed for use at festivals and other outdoor or indoor sites. Most stadiums are now required to have a “Safety Office” under the Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975 (not the same as a "health and safety officer") and the accepted qualification for this is the Level 4 NVQ in Spectator Safety, this also adds further confusion to the situation and we need to get away from using the term “safety officer” as it is reserved for stadium safety officers.

It’s also strange that you need almost a week of training to gain a basic security qualification and then you have to pay to be assessed and Licensed by the Security Industry Authority to hold a basic License as a Door Supervisor or event security operative but no experience or qualification is required to be a crowd safety manager at events with a responsibility for the safety of hundreds of thousands of spectators or visitors.

What Qualifications exist?

Crowd Management Qualifications:

The industry has a series of qualifications that serve as a progression from basic steward to Crowd Safety Manager. There is also a British Standard for event stewarding, known as BS 8406: Event Stewarding and Crowd Safety Services.

Highfield offers the following qualifications for Stewarding:

The Certificate in Event Security Operations is a new qualification produced with assistance from the UK Crowd Management Association.

City and Guilds offer:

The Level 3 NVQ in Spectator Safety that is for stewards working in a supervisory role. City and Guilds say that it suits people who work at any kind of spectator event, for example sports events, parades, concerts or carnivals.

The Level 4 NVQ in Spectator Safety Management aims to assess the competence of stadium managers and “safety officers”. This is for those who only operate in stadiums and does not include any crowd management elements within the qualification.

Bucks New University offer the Foundation Degree in Crowd Safety Management and a BA (Hons) in Crowd Safety Management (top-up) together with a range of other related courses.

Please make sure your event has a competent crowd safety manager! 

STAGE EARTH BONDS

Due to the vast amounts of power used on and around stages I would advise taking a close look at your earthing and earth bonding arrangements. It is a subject that is sometimes over-looked or not properly understood and I suggest a though consideration of these arrangements be made at the design stage of any installation. This consideration should also take into account electronic equipment that produces relatively high earth leakage currents. Quite surprisingly I have seen many temporary modular stages, of the type that are frequently used in arena type venues, with no Equipotential bonding between the modular sections and without the whole structure being earthed after bonding. This is quite frightening. Earth bonding is especially important where metal stage structures are mounted onto wooden sole boards where there is no electrical earth continuity between these simultaneously accessible exposed conductive parts due to the ply-wood boards in place.

The fact is that most scaffold based stages usually stand on plywood sole boards means that suitable earthing is critical in most cases. This is of course legally required due to the amount of 3-phase electricity supplies present on most stages. Often overlooked is the conductivity or otherwise of the sub-structure. Anything made of aluminium or galvanised steel (scaffold systems such as “Layher” and “Cuplok” are usually galvanised) are very easy to bond and to ground earth as they are very conductive. Anything made of painted or stove enamelled materials (typically 'Kwikstage' scaffold systems etc.) are exceptionally difficult to earth correctly as the paint works as a very good insulator as does the rust that rapidly builds on the sections.

Certain types of roof systems on outdoor stages do not electrically connect with the sub-structure so it is important to also bond the roof system to the sub structure and to earth bond any metal stage sets etc Bonding is necessary to provide a fault path to enable the protective device to automatically disconnect a faulty circuit that has come in to contact with any of these metallic structures. If this is not done then the structure may become live with a potentially fatal accident waiting to happen, say when someone steps from the stage to the ground.

Equipotential bonding involves joining together metalwork (such as a stage structure) that is or may be earthed so that it is at the same potential (i.e. voltage) everywhere.

All exposed-conductive-parts of an installation must be connected to an earth electrode, earthing is essential and is not the same as bonding, several earth points may be required to obtain a good earth from a large structure that has been bonded.

Earth electrodes may also form part of the lightning protection for an outdoor structure.

A specialist entertainment power distribution company working to BS 7909 Code of practice for temporary electrical systems for entertainment and related purposes should know this so make sure your electrician and power distribution company are working to this stadard and will provide a BS 7909 sign off certificate. Domestic and industrial electricians normally work to BS 7671 "Requirements for Electrical Installations (IET Wiring Regulations) and know nothing of the BS 7909 for our industry so be warned. 

SAFETY MANAGEMENT

All readers should be very aware of H&S Management and in particular Regulation 7 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 that states as follows: 

7.—(1) Every employer shall appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory.

This basically means that every employer (who employees five or more persons) is required to appoint a competent person or persons to advise him (or her) on health and safety matters so they can discharge they legal duties, this person or persons may be employees of the business or as is usual in our industry and particularly for smaller businesses, advisors or consultants who are hired in. 

Sadly, many smaller festivals and most tours will often appoint their Production or Site Manager as their safety adviser, an obvious major conflict of interests, safety adviser or consultants should not take on any other role or position outside of their safety role yet there are many who sell their services as both production managers and safety advisers to their clients. 

I wonder how many of you have a qualified and competent safety advisor and do not give the safety advisers role to a site or production manager? I should point out that if there is no competent safety adviser appointed then Production, Tour and Site managers will normally automatically be assumed to have taken on these roles and the associated legal duties and responsibilities even if they are not appointed; it just goes with the territory and if they are not “competent” then the consequences are unthinkable. 

The key word here again is competent, if someone is appointed or assumes the role that is not competent than the employer is fully responsible for their actions, the employer needs to make robust checks to ensure anyone they appoint is competent, a competent person is defined as having the right levels of qualifications, experience, knowledge, a willingness to learn and will know their own limitations. 

I should just like to quote a piece of case law at this point: 

In the Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council v J Sainsbury PLC case in 1988, Sainsbury was fined £425k and £75k costs when a warehouse operative was killed by a lift truck in December 1996. The truck’s safety cut out switch had been deliberately disconnected. The charges included failing to appoint a competent person to advise on health and safety as required under 7(1) of Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The person appointed as H&S adviser at the depot held a general certificate from NEBOSH, an insufficient qualification to undertake this role unassisted. At company level there was a safety advisor but his role did not extend to advising on the operational hazards associated with lift trucks at the depot.

If we look back to the date of the above incident and prosecution it is clear that few give a damn regardless of the publicity this was given to this and many other similar incidents, they will not learn until it is one of them in the dock and then we will see change. Don’t hold your breath but I predict there will be change at some point soon now the HSE are starting to look at us far more closely and understanding us far more. 

I now wonder how many safety advisors and consultants there are who are working in the live music and events with only a basic Level 3 qualification or equivalent (such as a NEBOSH General Certificate) or perhaps even less? I have personally identified a great number; some have only studied H&S a little, often as part of an event management course at university or collage, these people are far from being competent to advise at higher and more complex levels yet they often think they are. 

Perhaps the best advice I can give to all potential employers of health and safety advisers or consultants is to check their CVs and qualifications, a General Certificate or equivalent (Level 3) is generally considered to be inadequate as it is only a basic qualification, a NEBOSH Diploma or equivalent (Level 5 qualification) should be t