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 Effects of fatigue - especially night time working


Working hours and night working at events and conferences is a significant issue. Quite clearly we at The Safety Organisation cannot be omni-present so it would be unfair of us to say that all events, including exhibitions and conferences use staff who are over tired or experiencing the effects of very irregular and long hours. However, regardless of time of day, this is a regular feature of what we do see. This includes new staff on site, having just driven considerable distances, directly from their last job. Of course we strenuously advise employers and organisers of what we see and keep a record on our safety advisor log of our observations and actions. The standard response is always (depending upon perspective), 'it is always like this', 'the company won't send any more staff', 'we don't have the budget'...... and so on. That presents us then with the dilemma of either leaving site because the situation is not tolerable or staying because without us 'watching their backs', an incident is much more likely.

Quite apart from legislation which relates to working hours, travel etc it is a very simple decision to make as to whether working hours are safe for any individual. The law requires that ALL WORK SHOULD BE RISK ASSESSED. It does not specify what aspects of work do or don't apply because it includes all aspects of work. Therefore a person's ability to work safely; their competence due to fatigue must also be considered. In addition, duties of care for anyone affected by this factor apply, as does the Occupiers Liability Act because the lessended ability to work safely might affect others on the premises.

Remember also. People must also travel back to their homes or hotels. Consider the effects of an over-tired person when driving or crossing the road. Would you ask a person to drive or cross the road when under the influence of drink or drugs. Clearly not. The effects of fatigue are very similar; poor judgement, slow reaction times, micro-sleep etc.

Working hours and fatigue must be considered at the planning phase of an event. If the client funding operations does not have sufficient budget to ensure that provision is made for rest periods, a hard and conscience based decision might need to be made. It is accepted that this might be difficult because of financial implications of turning down business but in the cold light of day, death, trauma, serious injury, prosecution, bad publicity, crippling fines, compensation or loss of future business due to bad reputation might be the alternative.

On a lighter and practical note, please remember to include issues such as;

  • welfare
  • first aid cover
  • emergency plans
  • sufficient, suitable and properly adjusted lighting (no glares or dark patches)
  • first aid
  • security - especially if likely to be exposed night time users of towns and cities
  • support and contact details
  • and of course, suitable management and safety support (floor manager)

For more details, we recommend having a good read at the g-Guide for exhibitions and conferenes and have it at hand to refer to. Occasionally you will need to follow the advice within the document to other sources such as legislation and approved codes of practice.


For further advice for assistance or training from The Safety Organisation our contact details are at the top right corner of all pages of our web site.

 If you have arrived at this post directly, to see other news / blogs in this series, click on the news / blog tab above right.

Whilst you are here,  Don't rush away.    Having come this far, you can find out who we are / what we look like, what work we do / have done and lots more by clicking the various tabs above.


fire hazard

The subject of fire hazards and fire safety management at exhibitions, conferences and any event, is probably the area of highest risk level to any event. The combination of enclosed space, large numbers of people and fire, even a small one is quite frightenting and the consequences are monumental.

Fire prevention and dealing with the consequences of an outbreak of fire are a prime consideration for any workplace and events are no different. Do not leave it to the venue to worry about. Whilst they do have responsibilities, those of the organiser are also the key to ensuring fire safety. Many venues now are inherently fire retardent but that is not always the case, especially with older buildings. It is the organiser who brings in flammable materials and sets up electrical power to / for the event infrastructure. Those two elements amount to bringin in fuel and sources of ignition.

The management of fire safety starts at event planning time. Here is the organisers' opportunity to create a control of what is going to happen. For example, planning to make sure that flammables are stored properly, away from ignition sources. Any electrics should be properly installed, by competent people. All electrical devices should be safe to use. Sockets should not be overloaded. Materials used in construction should be fire retardent and be certificated as such. 

If you are likely to have naked flames, gas or other fuels (for instance a cooking demonstration), seek advice before committing to any arrangements with exhibitors. It may be that the venue will not allow this or may want very specific arrangements in place beforehand.

There are several H.M. Govt. guides on fire safety at events and places of assembly and they are free to download. If you obtain the support of professional advice, the level you are looking for, regardless of their background, the qualification starting point should be Level 3 Certificate in Fire Safety Management and Risk Assessment (or equivilant) , by suitable qualifying bodies such as NEBOSH. 

Make sure that you protect your site out of hours too. It is not unknown for people to maliciously start fires. Make sure that your waste is stored well away from your event so that if it catches fire, it will not cause you any problems.

 This advice really is the 'tip of the iceberg'. If you are not competent in fire safety management and risk assessment, we strongly recommend either 'up-skilling' or having some help from time to time. 


 For more details, we recommend having a good read at the g-Guide for exhibitions and conferenes and have it at hand to refer to. Occasionally you will need to follow the advice within the document to other sources such as legislation and approved codes of practice such as HM Govt. fire safety guides.


For further advice for on fire safety management and risk assessment or for training from The Safety Organisation our contact details are at the top right corner of all pages of our web site.

 If you have arrived at this post directly, to see other news / blogs in this series, click on the news / blog tab above right

 Don't rush away.    Having come this far, you can find out who we are / what we look like, what work we do / have done and lots more by clicking the various tabs above. 



 exhibitions and conferences safety file


The SAFETY FILE is required for all work but is especially important where you have construction work and visitors. This is due to a number of reasons; work activities for exhibitions, conferences and all events require planning and co-ordination and very soon afterwards the quality of the work is put to test by high levels of use by many people over a short duration. There is only one opportunity to get things right and the consequences of not doing so can be very serious. Therefore systems, records, checks and remedial actions are paramount.

Contents of an event safety file for exhibitions and conferences

A typical list may include for example;

  • Venue H & S policy and organiser H & S policy. They are both required so please make sure that they do not conflict in any way. If they do, please talk about it with each other and keep a record of your findings and actions.
  • Approvals. These may include licences and special permissions from various external agencies.
  • Site plans. These may include traffic arrangements, scale drawings of floor plans, special builds, temporary structures (stages, build-to-order stands, tiered seating etc).
  • Contractors safety systems. This will include what are known as risk assessments. The full picture includes specifications of goods and materials, staffing levels and competences, details of how the work will be undertaken safely, transportation and loading/unloading arrangements, numbers of staff over given periods, quality checks and more. Remeber, generic systems might be good for certain circumstances but in all cases, their safety plans must relate to your event, for this occasion and at this particular venue.
  • Records of meetings. What is required, what is agreed, any special arrangements applicable, times and so on. 
  • Briefing documents are essential. They confirm local arrangements for that particular site and occasion for safety, health, welfare and emergency systems. They also give opportunities for contractors to quickly learn that they are appreciated, thought about and where to go for information if needed.
  • Sign off sheets are probably the last items before the event commences. it is essential that all work is insepcted by a competent person (sometimes independant inspections). This will confirm the use of competent staff, using approved systems of work and materials and inspected to ensure no shortfalls of quality and safe-for-use approval. Don't forget your own walk-about inspection to make sure that all is well and remember fire safety issues.
  • Your diligence and checks will continue throught event time and should also be recorded, including any remedial actions taken.
  • Record any untoward incidents and accidents.
  • After the event, it is useful to hold a 'de-brief' meeting with relevant parties and record your conclusions and recommendations for developing and improving your systems for the future.


For more details, we recommend having a good read at the g-Guide for exhibitions and conferenes and have it at hand to refer to. Occasionally you will need to follow the advice within the document to other sources such as legislation and approved codes of practice.


For further advice for assistance or training from The Safety Organisation our contact details are at the top right corner of all pages of our web site.

 If you have arrived at this post directly, to see other news / blogs in this series, click on the news / blog tab above right



duties of operations manager and mind map


Today’s news blog is about the safety and health responsibilities of OPERATIONS MANAGERS for exhibitions and conferences, though they do relate to other types of events and work environments.  This describes some of the skills and knowledge necessary to comply with legal requirements and duties of care


First and foremost, they must have a level of competence in health and safety planning and management (or be supported by someone who is competent). To see more about competence, have a quick read of our blog 5 in this series. Normally this academic level of knowledge will at MANAGING SAFELY CERTIFICATE. (or equivalent level ) This is a course, which is normally of 24 hours duration plus a knowledge test and a small project to undertake and write up. The course concentrates on the level of knowledge needed for supervisors and managers. 


The Operations Manager (O.M.), although a different title to those posts indicated in the regulations associated with construction sites, is likely to be one of the identified duty holders so it is important that they understand the need to get things right.


The g-Guide lists some of the duties of the O.M. but there are others, which might arise, depending upon the nature of the event, structures and activities. They include for example;


Pre event plans and considerations (think venue, what you want to achieve and how it can be achieved).

Setting a suitable budget.

Appointment of competent contractors.

Creation / co-ordination of safe systems of work, management systems, checks and records for all aspects of work and services.

Emergencies and contingencies.

Environmental management issues.

Appoint Floor Manager (competent health and safety specialist practitioner).


In adition to health and safety laws and duties of care, there is also a similar requirement made under an item of law called the Occupiers Liability Act. This law extends duties of care beyond those of health and safety laws. Here the duties fall on the occupier of land, premises etc. This will include both full time occupancy and short term tennancies. It relates to the liability of occupiers for injuries and harm which might occur including 'out of hours' periods, greater responsibilities to children and (under certain circumstances) to trespassers

This may sound quite intimidating, and it is if the O.M. tries to ‘wing it’ in any way. The secret is for them to know their limitations and to either stay within them or to seek professional support  (from the start) if needed.  It is likely nowadays that your venue will insist on having professional support in most circumstances.. 


 For further advice or assistance from The Safety Organisation our contact details are at the top right corner of all pages of our web site.

 If you have arrived at this post directly, to see other news / blogs in this series, click on the news / blog tab above right.

Day 5 - Floor Managers



The term FLOOR MANAGER, has come to represent the person responsible for managing safety (health etc) issues during build, show and breakdown phases. They may also have helped with advice and documentation during the planning phase also. For anyone other than experienced organisers, this (planning phase service) will be anything involving temporary structures or unusual/higher risk elements. Please remember that FLOOR MANAGER is a term used almost exclusively within this sector of events work and may be open to interpretation and variation. The term ADVISOR or SUPPORT is probably a better description of what they do.


The floor manager helps to keep roles simple and their skills enable both enable the production manager to concentrate on their core work whilst keeping your client (who carries the overall responsibilities) legally compliant. Whilst they may dress down for work on site, they are nevertheless professional and highly qualified people.

To be able to recognise competence in this field you should be looking for a qualification of National General Certificate (by qualifying bodies such as NEBOSH, CIEH, IOSH etc) as an absolute minimum level (higher is preferred). You should find out what else they do to keep their knowledge up to date. You would expect to find other qualifications such as for fire, first aid, water safety etc. If they are members of a chartered association such as IOSH, CIEH, ROSPA, IIRSM, you are looking for a membership level above introductory level. To be a member of these organisations you have to prove your competence to them, so that takes away some of the work from you. They will have a certificate to prove this. The other elements of competence are experience and skills. These can be proven by asking to see some of the documents they have written over a wide range of events and evidence of repeat business. Don't be afraid to ask them for references or make contact with their clients to make sure that they have not just been there for experience, 'on the back' of someone else.

As you might reasonably expect, this type of work needs to be insured. Probably the most important insurance for their work is PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY. This will cover their advice to you in case anything goes wrong. Insurance companies also demand high standards before granting PI insurance. Your floor manager should also of course have public liability, employee insurances. Optional are travel, equipment, legal (etc) covers.

Duties of floor managers

Primarily they are there to independently monitor compliance and provide advice. Their knowledge and experience can be both a life saver and help your company to learn and develop too. We notice that with our support in respect of H & S, the quality of work of our regular clients improves year upon year.

They are also there to provide you with and experienced source of knowledge, often accompanied by practical advice on how to implement what might be needed to do.

They are not there to get in the way of what you do as a team or individually. Our policy is to find ways to help to make things happen not to stop things from happening or causing extra work.


For further advice or assistance from The Safety Organisation our contact details are at the top right corner of all pages of our web site.

 If you have arrived at this post directly, to see other news / blogs in this series, click on the news / blog tab above right.

Day 4 - Exhibitors & Stand Contractors


complex build features may put an exhibition under the provisions of the Construction, Design and Management Regulations

Today's news / blog is about assessing your compliance needs more fully. For shell schemes, 'building regulations' do not apply, though all other legal factors do. An important factor to remember is that temporary structures other than shell schemes are likely to fall under the provisions and requirements of building regulations. This will include stages, more complex/larger stands and other specially constructed temporary features.

These temporary structures are likely to fall squarely under the requiremetnts of the *Construction Design and Management Regulations. These are the regulations which apply to building projects. Your workplace will be regarded in many ways as a building site. The regulations also create specific duty holders over and above those mentioned in the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. They include CLIENT, CDM CO-ORDINATOR and PRINCIPLE CONTRACTOR. Each has specified roles and responsibilities in law.

Whether CDM applies or not, standing arrangements are of course; a full risk assessment is needed for all activities.  Suitable and sufficient safety, health and welfare arrangements must be in place for all phases of activities. These will include:- All plans and records for safe systems of work for all work taking place. Be sure that it is scheduled to take place in the right order and not 'overlapping' in a way which might create un-necessary dangers, for example working at height above other work activities or plant moving about whenother workers are in the same area.

It is incredibly important that your work is all planned and undertaken by competent people using safe systems of work and the right materials for the job. Remember to have all of your work 'signed off' by your contractors and be aware that for some temporary structures you will also need to have the work inspected and approved by independant 'structural inspectors'.

Ensure you have scale floor plan showing all aspects of layout. This is not only essential for your commercial purposes, it also shows how layour relates to visitor movements and fire safety issues for example.

Remember from the outset that you will need the approval of venue and on occasions, certain authorities what you intend to do.

* CDM Regulations will be revised in 2015. Some duty holder posts will be revised but not removed in all respects. 

 For further advice or assistance from The Safety Organisation our contact details are at the top right corner of all pages of our web site. 

If you have arrived at this post directly, to see other news / blogs in this series, click on the news / blog tab above right.

Exhibitions & Conferences - Day 3 of 10. The Competent Person

Competence for health and safety

Wednesday, 3rd December 2014 

In this our 3rd news / blog, our focus is upon competence in safety and health management for people who work in the field of exhibitions and conferences. We are chosing some important areas from the e-Guide for Exhibitions and Conferences and adding some tips of our own.

This term COMPETENT PERSON does not always mean having formal qualifications or being a practitioner but when you are dealing with overlapping work activities and large numbers of visitors it is not a good idea to 'dabble'.

A qualified, skilled and experienced competent person will know your industry, whatever it may be (in this case, exhibitions and conferences) and they will be able to bring many skills 'to the table' which are not normally found within an events team. That is, a dedicated presence to oversee what is happening and bang-up-to-date learning, experience and practices. They will be able to advise you from planning to de-brief. They will create or help you create your safety file, ensure you provide arrangements for avoiding incidents or helping you to prevent incidents becoming something worse. 

If you thought of your activities as a construction site, would you be happy for the site to lack a knowledgable health and safety manager? of course not. That is how, over the last 40 years the UK has reduced fatalities, serious incidents and time off work due to injuries massively. In fact, many exhibitions and conferences do come under the same regulations as building sites, a fact that has been overlooked for quite a while now. But that is no longer the case.

In short, the competent advice of a 'floor manager' as they are sometimes known is essential. 

The decision to make is whether to employ someone for this role, train up someone for this role or to hire in 'competent' person skills from time to time? Our advice for this type industry is any of the above. We definitely discourage attempts as d.i.y. They might look good, copied from one professional document to other events but every singe page is thought out and worded for a particular occasion at a specified site, using certain contractors etc. They are rarely exactly replicated so safe systems of work and legal requirements may vary significantly or even delicately in a way which might tip towards unsafe conditions which may not be know of until too late.

 Meet the team. Why not have a look at the competences of our team.

To see other news / blogs in this series, click on the tab above right.

For further advice or assistance from The Safety Organisation our contact details are at the top right corner of all pages of our web site. 

Exhibitions and Conferences - Safety and Health. Planning Phase.

In this, our second of ten news blogs on the subject of health and safety planning for exhibitions and conferences, we will discuss the planning phase. This is often undertaken by a post known as The Operations Manager for the event (or something similar, depending upon indvidual organisations). They are normally responsible for pre-event planning and co-ordination, working together with others from the Company producing the event, often on the behalf of clients.

We often find that for various reasons including lack of time, lack of insight, pressures of managing multiple events, lack of finances, pressures from clients - and others, it is sometimes the case that organisers don't do all that they should do in terms of ensuring safe systems of work. This is not saying that they don't think that they provide them. They probably do. Our experience is that they may have a well meaning project leader with some knowledge of legal requirements and at some stage they will have asked for safety management paperwork from contractors, received it and believed it to be suitable and sufficient for all of the work. 

The g-Guide for exhibitions and conferences sets this out really well. All duties required by Laws, Duties of Care and Approved Codes of Practice must be followed, checked, amended and recorded in respect of each event. This does not mean a root and branch re-think of work. It is likely that a fresh look at diaries to make sure that enough time and resources will be the most significant requirement. 

As business people, we are all profit driven. We have to pay for salaries and overheads to keep our businesses running and it is often difficult to say no to a potential client if covering safety provisions and checks means increasing the budget. In short, it is sometimes easy to become diverted from some priorities and to try to justify why.

It is a fact that venues will not support exhibitors who don't comply, especially if there is an incident. If you have ever looked at the subject of investigating accidents, you may have learned that it is more often than not, that the root cause can be traced back management because of the lack of systems or checks.

Learning has taught us that where there is harm, it is likely that the enforcing authority will be not look favourably towards a non-prosecution alternative as they commence an investigation. At this point, those under scruting then direct their thoughts towards what they can now do to put this right and cost becomes no object as they consider harmful effects, criminal actions, loss of reputation and the involvement of their client by association. 

This has all been a little heavy we know. The events industry in general is moving in a very positive direction towards significant improvements in their management of health and safety at work. If you have never had a look at the g-Guide, why not have a look and see if you can do anything to improve your systems for keeping everyone safe, healthy and to further improve the image of your event.


If you would like the advice or support of professionals, please contact us via the details at the top right of all of the pages of our web site. 




For great safety and health compliance - Introduction to our 10 days of tips



Today  we start our first of 10 advice style news blogs on safety and health at exhibitions and conferences. The advice is based upon the industry’s official guidance document (The g-Guide), though it is not entirely confined to the subject headings within and will also contain useful tips from our experience and learning.


The g-Guide, in case you are not familiar with it is the Guide to Global Standards of Health and Safety at Exhibitions and Conferences, endorsed now by most major venues and major exhibitions suppliers / organisers.


In our advice blogs we will take you from Responsibilities (policies, guidelines, safeguarding and other compliances) via floor management ,  necessary checks and records, through to the specialist area of Fire Safety. 


Day 1 (Responsibilties)


This is a great starting point because if responsibilities are understood, they can be thought through and planned in from the start. Many venues now are asking for evidence of this and also to ensure that a competent floor manager (more on this on Wednesday) is appointed to provide on site 'eyes'. 

The g-Guide, tells readers that it is necessary to comply with Laws, Codes of Practice and duties of care, that you should have the following in place, even for low risk events:

  • A health and safety policy (this sets down how you will deal with obligations from a stragegic level).
  • Risk assessments and safe systems of work. This means all hazards recognised and plans in place describing how they will be operating at this (specific) event.
  • Checks andways of improving systems if necessary and records you will have in place.

We hope that this is of use to you as an introduction to the subject. Our next subject will be duties of the Operations Manager.

Remember, this is item 1 in this series, click on our news / blog page to see others as they will appear.


If you require help or training for your organisation, our contact links are at the top right of each page at our web site.


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Over 40 students 'illuminated' in accident prevention


Contingencies and Major Incidents Planning

Today may well be the so-called 'Black Friday' but over the last two days, we delivered a number of training sessions to Backstage Academy students in just how to avoid the unpleasant. 

Over 40 students are now aware of the issues to look for when planning live events to avoid emergencies and major incidents. Having undertaken The Safety Organisation's Introduction Contingencies and Major Incidents training / seminar, they now understand how accident prevention and accident investigation can have a direct link on the creation of serious incidents. They now also understand the importance of event safety management plans and what kind of skills and health and safety professional advice might be needed or on hand. 

Once you have learned what might happen, emergency plans can be made to fit those circumstances and contingencies and major incident plans will of course be a product of those fore-thoughts.

This is one group of people who should not be crossing their fingers and hoping for the best because they now know what safety management plans and safe systems of work to have in place. They also understand just what accident investigation is about and how it can be used together with other safety at work skills to avoid major incidents. They should all now be strategic thinkers rather than reactive.

Well done - to everyone at Backstage Academy.


Would you like to receive training to help you to avoid accidents, serious incidents and major incidents - or assistance with contingency plans? We are also able to help with business recovery plans, staff working abroad, incidents abroad and other similar emergencies.

Please contact us via the details at the top right of any of our web pages. 


Safety Passport

Winter. What is winter good for?

As well as checking over your health and safety systems, winter is a great time for making sure that training is up to date and that it is suitable for the work.

A terrific starter course is Safety Passports, which is a scheme supported by the HSE. The qualification is valid for 3 years for the general workplace. This is known as a "CORE" passport and is valid across many sectors. If you prefer the LIVE EVENTS sector qualification, this is can be recognised as valid within live events working environments for up to 5 years.

The great thing is that they are suitable for anyone, as they give a really broad start in learning about health and safety in the workplace. They help to dispel silly rumours but do confirm in a plain way, what is really required. 

This is a one day course and includes headings such as how safety is organised, the main hazard groups, some important environmental input and health at work. 

You can find more information about this at our training page or just simply make contact with us. Our contact details are at the top right of all of our web pages.


Our course costs per student can work out as little as £49.00 each for a group of 20. For a 'tailored' quote, please just ask. That costs nothing.