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Live Event Health & Safety Planning

Planning for a safe event is holistic, deal with bits and you should not be surprised if you get bitten.

Health and Safety for Live Events - Considerations

Running live events can be a logistical nightmare, with numerous elements to consider and keep on top of, including health, welfare, traffic management, crowd safety, and emergency planning (as well as much more). You cannot just 'cut and paste' systems, they have to be relevant and bespoke. Choosing a company that specialises in health and safety at live events, such as The Safety Organisation allows you to focus on the event itself, leaving those skills where they belong, in qualified, expert hands.

The size and character of the event you are planning will have a direct effect on the nature of the planning process, taking into account, consultation, licensing, the equipment you will need, facilities required, staffing levels and preparation time you will need. You will need to carry out a thorough assessment, including incident and contingency planning to ensure that your event meets all legal standards.

Suitable planning starts at event concept time.

You can start the process with the question WHEN? When is it; season, lighting, temperatures, prevailing weather, working day or otherwise and so-on. This amongst other considerations will have a bearing on your plans and budget.

When choosing your venue, there are a number of aspects that you must consider. Here are just a very few examples - but there are many more.


Taking into consideration the number of emergency exits and their locations within the venue will have a direct impact on your event. You must plan the layout of a site if you are hosting an event outdoors for maximum safety and the comfort of your guests. This can vary, depending upon the type of event and can change at some stage, depending on the type of event. It can be tricky to calculate the correct capacity limit, so having expert advice can help.

Access and Flow

If you have an indoor event planned, then your access points/exits are pretty much decided but they do have an impact upon the internal layout. Once 'gates' are located, the same principal applies for outdoor events, but there are often areas where foot traffic flow can become pinched, so planning for careful placement of facilities is paramount. Clearly marking paths for pedestrians and roads for vehicles is important. These routes must be separated where possible and where they are not, other safe systems must be put into place which achieve the same degree of safety. If you have large vehicles coming on-site, remember that these need space to get in and out. Try to avoid bottlenecks and dead ends where possible.

Surface Conditions

When holding an outdoor event, you must consider the ground that the event will be held on. Large vehicles can cause problems on the ground if there is an issue with bogginess, flooding or repeated use in damp conditions. You should have contingency plans for adverse conditions, including various options for wet surfaces,  clearing kit/salt and grit for frozen and icy conditions and a perhaps even water pumps for flooding. Whether indoors or out, ensure that the 'floor' is suitable for intended loads. 

Placing of Equipment, Facilities and Services

You should ensure that all equipment not in use is placed in a separate area (often known as a boneyard). Any remaining kit should be out of reach of visitors (fencing, security staff etc) and take care with your cable runs to avoid tampering, trips etc. Signpost facilities such as toilets and first aid tents so that they can be found easily. 

To know more;

This is a little taster of the holistic approach to planning an event, to know more, please contact us via any of the links at this site.

Event Safety Passport Training

The Safety Organisation has a Safety Passport training course. This course in live event safety is a nationally recognised qualification which teaching people basic health and safety awareness and helps those involved in live events health and safety to reduce risk and ensure crowd safety.

Managing Safely Training

TSO can also deliver training for managers (event planners) to help you to safely and legally manage planning for the organisation of all aspects of health, safety and welfare at your event. Learn more about 'Managing Safely Training'.

Courting Death

Window cleaners working unsafely, caught on video. Client AND contractors both prosecuted

This video has been around since last year but as I recently saw similar activity whilst on my travels, I thought that I might share it, and the message with you - again in some cases.

This is the premise of a well known brand (nothing to be gained by 'rubbing salt into the wound' by saying who they are), which clearly did not keep sufficient quality checks on their contractor on this occasion. The window cleaner's foolish work methods resulted in him being fined £2,000 for working unsafely. The client however was fined  £15,000  and ordered to pay £3,000 costs. I am not aware if they also had to pay fees for intervention. If they did, they would have been very substantial. 

So, what is the message to be learned here? 

The message is clearly, have a good health and safety policy and safe systems of work. This will include checking on contractors' systems and quality of work, as well as that of own staff. The next bit is the important element here: Paperwork is only the starting point. If it is not put into practice, if work is not checked, if interventions do not take place if necessary and if you don't keep records of your actions, you are at serious risk of prosecution etc, if something goes wrong. In this case, someone passing by, who thought it would be a good idea to put a video on Youtube.

For further advice or help, with your busines, you might like to look at our how we can help businesses at our health and safety consultancy page. 

Extreme Weather - Safety Advice

Our hearts go out to the people who at the moment are experiencing all kinds of torment due to the consequences of recent storms and floods in the UK. 

I am in the midst of preparing a seminar (perhaps more later on that) for a group of media related events planners.  The subject of what to plan for with extreme weather has once again arisen. The diffculty of course becomes more pronounced, the further away from the event day you are. And sometimes, even when the date is right upon you, you can encounter quite extraordinary extremes.

If extreme weather cannot be predicted, then how can you make plans?

In short, the answer is to undertake a risk assessment and your plans will be the controls you will devise to deal with the risks. This may sound complicated but as an example, if in January you are planning an outdoor event in the UK in July, then snow and frost is quite unlikely. What extremes are you left with? Extreme/protracted rain - Yes. Extreme winds  - Yes.  Extreme temperatures and UV radiation - Yes. Electrical storms - Yes (and so on). Therefore the answer is to devise emergency systems in January. The next phase is to start checking weather forecasts as the event gets nearer. They become more acurate as the date approaches and so your plans can become more refined to meet the information. 

Is this likely to cover relevant exteme weather?  The simple answer is yes. It is LIKELY to cover relevant extreme weather but sometimes you just need to think things though thoroughly. The above photograph is an example of what I mean. This storm began as a predicted electrical storm, just about at the time predicted too. What was not expected, was the SIZE of the hail 'stones'. Hail often accompanies electrical storms. As a hazard, this was covered. It was the unexpected size and velocity with which they struck!!! - this was unexpected and, speaking to local people (this happened in the Auvergne region of France), not encountered within their memory and therefore extremely unlikely.

The deluge caused no major problems and there were plenty of safe (earthed) places to shelter. The event postponement and managments' decision making systems were also planned for as part of emergency/contingency plans. All went really well apart from many dented vehicles and several bird-fatalities (struck in mid-flight) by hail. The event resumed the next day and was a great success.

There is a lot more to the skill of making contingency plans and weather is just one potential hazard which needs to be addressed. Other complicating issues are the locality, the type of event (or work), who else might be affected, communications, time of day/year and so-on.

You can view our video footage of this weather below:

If you need any advice, support or training on health, safety, welfare or environmental health and safety training principles, please contact us.

Successful Safety Passport Training Course

Last week saw our latest batch of students from DBN Productions undertake their exam following the Safety Passport for Live Events training course

The venue for the training and examination was at the HSL Group base in Blackburn, Lancashire, which provided a brilliant classroom facility for the training course. 

The Training Course

Our Safety Passport for Live Events training course provides a starting point for health and safety knowledge and skills in the events workplace. It is a nationally recognised qualification designed by the Safety Pass Alliance (SPA) and the Production Services Association (PSA). The course itself provides a broad base for people to learn live event health and safety competence and demonstrate how to implement these skills. You can learn more about our Live Event Safety Passport Training here >>

Student Feedback

We are delighted to report that the students from DBN Productions not only worked exceptionally hard at group learning tasks, but also participated in other learning instruction and activities. 

The feedback was extremely positive, with some students getting the most out of the fire safety section of the training. One student commented about now having more confidence in people who had taken the course, whilst another student valued what he had learnt about employer and employee duties to comply with health and safety laws. 

As always, The Safety Organisation value student feedback, which we harness to continually enhance our training courses, both in regards to quality and delivery of the broad reaching course content. 

How can we help you?

Our Event Safety Passport Training is aimed at businesses and individuals within the live event production sector, ensuring that they have a knowledge of safety duties, site safety, common hazards and safe working practices. 

Some of our recent students have included student unions event staff, PR companies, theatre management & staff, local authority officers and community arts groups. 

If you would like to discuss our Safety Passport Training in more detail, or arrange a free consultation, please use our 'Request a consultation' form displayed to the right, or contact us here...

Checklist of 10 safety management factors

Our last news item was based upon research from incidents, accidents and major incidents - it was a list of 10 bad management practices which were found to be cause factors of those negative occurrences. They have a very serious side as most of the factors have a direct impact upon legality.

But what if we turn those negative features around to positive ones? Think of the benefits if they were put into practice? Please take out a few moments to think about these questions but relate them to safety, health, welfare and environmental issues in your business.

  • How many of the factors on the accompanying image relate to you or are true for what you actively do?
  • What can you do to make them all apply to you?
  • Can you develop your managers, supervisors and workforce fit the below model?
  • How might doing this help your business?
  • What impression might this have on your clients - especially if you try to make them aware?

If this concept is new to you, you might like to keep this mind map handy. You can then tick off what you do now and then make to rest a series of goals, with your own time scale. 

Learn more about our IOSH Managing Safely Training Course, or get in touch for more details

Common Causes for Accidents and Incidents – Is Management to Blame?

I recently undertook some research, prior to delivering a lecture on incidents, accidents and major incidents, with some very interesting results, which I would like to share. These results fit in quite snuggly with answering the often-asked question, “why should management be to blame for the actions of staff?”   Here, in no particular order is some very useful information.

Lack of leadership.

If leadership does not think things out in advance, find things out, take preventative action, recognise the need for budget, question and act decisively, who will?

Inadequate or no training

Some people work with part knowledge or no knowledge about the skills and practical experience to do their work safely. This is in the main, about what they actually do but it also includes awareness about the legal and moral issues. Without this in-put, they will continue to work in blissful ignorance or perhaps they will be resentful of the fact that they have not received suitable training. Worse still is the employer, from whom guidance is taken, who lacks this competence.

 Failure to assume responsibility (someone else will do it)

In a way, this links with leadership but it can include the importance of requirements for clear lines of responsibility and staff who have the confidence and support from management. Management is required to allow them to take on suitable responsibility and to provide support to them when they do so. Without this culture, the old adage of ‘everyone’s responsibility = no-one’s responsibility’ is the default.

Unsuitable and complex systems

Who wants to read or listen to complicated or over-long systems. Often there is a more efficient and quicker way. If this kind of formality is necessary, why not also simplify it with a summary or overview. I have included a little mind map above the start of this blog, which I am guessing most people will not have gone beyond. Why? You did not really need to, but thanks for doing so.

Poor communications

If your intentions are just in your head, how can anyone expect others to follow them? Perhaps what you need to make known is over-complicated, maybe it excludes people, i.e., people with literacy or hearing problems or people who cannot attend meetings etc. For Communications to work, this must also involve reception; that is, listening or reading but always – understanding. Communication is always a two-way flow. How effective and inclusive is your communications system?

 Blame culture (anyone’s fault but mine)

To be an effective in health and safety, one must try to avoid blaming others whenever possible. Without open-ness and honesty, progress will never be made. This system also works equally well for accepting advice in an open manner without it being interpreted as being blame.

Failure to learn or take in useful information from incidents

A commonly heard comment from some students and clients when we describe incidents or perhaps recent cases is to them so that they can improve their working knowledge is; ‘but we don’t do that type of work’, or ‘I don’t see how this applies to me’ or perhaps other ‘distancing’ comments. What they should probably doing is thinking deeper and also be saying is, ‘why did that happen, what can I learn and how can I avoid something like that?’

Lack of monitoring and audits

During boom periods, managers quote being too busy to monitor and audit their health and safety systems and during slack periods, they are too busy trying to promote the company. So when does it happen? If it is not programmed into safe systems of work, of course, it doesn’t. It is absolutely essential that a PLAN > DO > CHECK > ACT system is followed. Failure to follow essential this very basic yet system can have dire consequences.

 Failure to take advice or implement necessary changes (due to law, working practice etc)

The reasons are many. Commonly they are, lack of budget, lack of time, forgetfulness, lack of priority, laziness, resistance to change, cultural, ignorance and so-on. None of these reasons would be accepted of course by an injured person, the family of a deceased, a judge, coroner or clients.

Learn more about our health and safety consultancy services, or get in touch for more details

Health and Safety Qualification for Managers and Supervisors

We are delighted to let you know that our 2014 calendar for training is being put together. To start the year, we are offering an ‘open’ IOSH Managing Safely (level 3) course.

This is designed for managers and supervisors and contains essential information on safety management systems as well as risk assessments. For more information on course content, please visit Download our Managing safely brochure via the IOSH web site.

Our first course for 2014 will be on the 6th, 7th, 13th and 14th January. It will take place in Bury (Greater Manchester) and is handy for hotel, parking, motorway, trams to city centre Manchester and includes refreshments and lunch.

The course will be tutored by a friendly, experieced trainer, who is also a ‘seasoned’ practitioner in health and safety (etc) in both the general workplace and in the events industry. For more information or to make a booking, follow our link to send us an email or phone us. We will be glad to answer any of your questions. 

We look forward to seeing you then.

If you would like more details about our training courses, please contact us here.

Enforcement charges are just about to become a whole lot more expensive

For those in the UK, breaches of health and safety at work laws will become subject to add-on ‘admin’ fees by the enforcement agency, the HSE from the 1st October 2012.

This means that on top of any other courses of action against an ‘offender’ such as improvement notices, enforcement notices, prosecutions, fines, claims for compensation, the HSE will be able to claim back their overheads at the rate of £124 per hour.

This can cost the offender anything from a few hundred pounds to tens of thousands on top of sanctions. It is enforceable via civil courts if not paid, which of course could cause anyone without sufficient funds to close down if they were unable to meet the bill in full.

Quite a sobering thought.

I have written a more comprehensive article at the below link, to the Event Industry News (online magazine). There you will also find a link to the HSE guidelines on the subject.

Is scalping ‘on the up’?

Wow, what a busy summer, following an equally busy winter. So what do we have to tell you?

Change in law.

Probably for the better I think. It is almost certain that from the 1st October 2013, some changes to the law relating to recording and reporting accidents and incidents, commonly known as RIDDOR will take effect. The changes are intended to simplify the systems and are reported to be likely to save businesses in the UK £millions each year. A new reportable injury will be that of SCALPING. That is where people receive hospital treatment as a result of having their hair AND skin torn from the head. I have not seen the statistics but this  would seem to be of a concern due to increases of incidents. There are some gruesome images conjured up here.

Want to know more, you can download a  free gopy of the guidelines for this draft legislation from the HSE web site at 

After safety passports, what next?

ms-bookA very noticeable development since we started to deliver IOSH Managing Safely training to managers and supervisors is that the quality of planning for works, on site safety management and awareness appears to have improved massively by those (MS Trained) organisations. This awareness is being spread from management and supervisory levels, in all directions of the organisation and beyond.

Clients also speak of reduced insurance premiums, which is a nice spin-off. We ourselves have noticed that staff seem more comfortable with safe systems and work is better organised. This is entirely thanks to the students. Well done.
Our clients are far more able to manage their own health and safety systems, thus to become or stay legal and they know when to ask for help.   There is no doubt that whether you are an events manager, supervisor or in a similar position in any work place, IOSH Managing Safely is clearly the next level for student development after technical basic level (level 2 / safety passports).

So what is next for us?

Much more of Europe,  definitely more training sessions and lots oft factor 50 I think.



Too tired to be literate?

5280437-a-tired-construction-worker-wiped-his-headIt is a little while since we last updated our blog but this is not too surprising, given how busy we have been recently. My co-director Jim, is beavering away at an event in mid-France right now and I have been both writing safety management documents and travelling to deliver quite a few training sessions; Which leads nicely into the subject for this blog.

I thought you might like to hear of two current topics we now include within the body of our training sessions.

The first subject is that of fatigue and accidents in the event industry. This is based upon an article recently published in the Total ProductionInternational Magazine (TPI) which is based upon a piece of research undertaken by a fellow H & S Advisor, James Cobb, in conjunction with the Production Services Association (PSA). In short, there are some pretty alarming statistics mentioned, which are not too surprising given the relationship between lack of sleep and a reduction in performance which is similar to the effects of alcohol. You would not consider drink-driving as being acceptable – so why would anyone consider ‘fatigue-work’ to be ok? Something to think about!

Screen-Shot-2013-05-16-at-17.03.31The other subject I talk about now is that of ‘risk literacy’. This is a nice way of describing the exact opposite of ‘risk illiteracy’. The latter can be illustrated by the recent howlers such as banning triangular shaped confectionary which had been baked by school children because they might injure someone in a food-fight. There are many other examples of health-and-safety-gone-mad. We want to join the growing number supporters of risk literacy to help people to find what is reasonable, suitable and sufficient to cover off hazards in the workplace without being laughed at, maybe due to good intent but poor risk-literacy.

That is it for now. Hopefully I will be able to write something helpful again in the near future but we do enjoy being busy too.

As ever, if you think we might be able to help, we are only a short email or phone call away. You can contact us here.

How do you turn a working car production line into a quality event?

Well, if you want to know the answer to that, you need to ask our clients ‘Tils Keskin of DesignScene Limited  and Phil Beavan of Proud-Robinson. After all, it was their ‘baby’.

However, if you want expert assistance on the health, safety and welfare aspects of creating a product launch, alongside a working car production line, then we are the people to ask.

The Safety Organisation helped our clients to do just this, in the Nissan plant, Sunderland. Nissan, by the way, have a zero tolerance to accidents and incidents, so of course would accept nothing less than the best systems and practices.

Now add to that, the fact that this was the launch of their ‘flagship’, zero emissions Nissan Leaf by none other than the Prime Minister, David Cameron and the full picture begins to emerge.

YouTube Link:       Prime Minister at Nissan Motors Plant

We are please to tell you that not only did we achieve that goal, we did that without upsetting the work force, who continued their 24 hours per day processes without any interruptions.


For assistance with your event, whatever it may be, we are here to help.