Working at height in the event industry continues to be one of the most hazardous activities that takes place on the fast paced event floor. As a result AEV, AEO and ESSA launched a scheme in 2016 named ‘Stop the Drop’, aimed at promoting best practice and ultimately to prevent falls from height whilst working on events. The scheme has been endorsed by many venues and key contractors, being a welcomed and promoted campaign.
The website for the scheme provides a number of posters, images and advice for a variety of stakeholders including venues, designers, contractors, event organises etc. free of charge. Before your next event, take a look at the site; download some of the material and help promote the message.
Sofa retailer and manufacturer DFS has been forced to pay £1m after an employee was knocked unconscious when he was struck by an unsecured furniture frame as he unloaded a vehicle.
Derby Magistrates’ Court heard on 22 February that the Doncaster retailer’s safety management system had “fundamental and systemic” failings.
On 2 July 2015, the worker was unloading wooden frames at one of the DFS Trading’s upholstery sites when he was struck by an unsecured furniture arm which fell from an unstable load. It knocked him unconscious and he sustained serious neck and back and head injuries as a result.
The case is a stark reminder for companies to ensure loads are secured correctly and staff have received adequate trained.
The HSE have issued their strategy which covers all businesses and activities in the entertainment and creative arts fields including small to large-scale film production, television and radio broadcasting, the performing arts, cultural and sporting events, exhibitions, festivals and conferences and corporate hospitality.
Their assessment of our current position is that ‘many production activities are well managed. However, due to the innovative and creative, fast moving and variety of the work, the potential exists for serious and fatal accidents. The main safety risks arise from work at height, structural collapse and workplace transport. Other risks include slips and trips, electricity at outdoor events and manual handling. The nature of the work often involves long hours and nightshift work leading to fatigue and reduced concentration, potentially increasing the likelihood of an accident.Potential also exists for catastrophic incidents affecting the public at mass gatherings, eg being trampled on in a crowd and/or the collapse of a structure’.
The document goes on to list the HSE’s priorities as being:
• ‘Poor working practices and health risks during production/event construction activities
• Ensuring public safety at mass gatherings
• Encouraging an effective, consistent and proportionate approach to health and safety risk management and regulation’.
There is an acknowledgement that the events industry is worth billions of pounds to the UK and that enforcement must be proportionate but it is disappointing that there is no acknowledgement of the progress made in recent years as the HSE has done for other sectors. The tone of the documents should not be a surprise to event companies as it is in line with comments that HSE officers have made as a matter of record and in informal meetings over the last two years. The reference to work at height, structural collapse and workplace transport is not new but companies should also take note of the reference to long hours, fatigue and stress which as well as being health issues can also be the underlying cause of other accidents. Any company reviewing or formulating a health and safety policy would do well to look at this document which can be downloaded at www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/strategiesandplans/sector-plans/index.htm
£900k fine for fall from a step ladder
Were it not for the fact that it happened in a Volvo car plant this case could have written as a case study for event construction. In 2015 a technician fell from the step ladder he was using suffering a head injury that resulted in three weeks in hospital. The HSE found the ladder was missing the non-slip rubber feet on two legs. It did not have a maintenance record and staff had not been trained to inspect ladders. There were work at height risk assessments in place but management were not aware of the contents. Volvo were found guilty of breaching s 2(1) of HASAWA. Using the new sentencing guidelines, the judge determined it to be a medium culpability, i.e. not the most serious in terms of failure. An early guilty plea and an otherwise good health and safety record were also mitigating factors but the fine was still £900,000 due to the size of the company and the high likelihood of harm from using a defective ladder. A few years ago this type of incident in an exhibition build would not have attracted the attention of the HSE and if a prosecution followed the fine would have been in the tens of thousands. Now it is central to the HSE’s focus for events as published in their strategy for 2017 and the start point for a fine for any company with a turnover of more than £50 million following an accident of this nature would be £600,000.
Revised NAA A Guide
For those working for or in Arenas the NAA have issued a revised version of the
New ESS blog site to launch, providing news and updates
So, after some time away we have started up our blog site again. We will be using this site to post information, updates and news relating to health and safety specific to the events world and in general. Subscribe to the site and you’ll receive notifications when a new blog is posted.