Written by Rachel MorrisonNovember 7, 2016

In an industry that is inherently risky, how can we keep the creatives creating but protect our performers and audience?

Glitter cannons and pyro water falls, herds of goats, a harp and an opera company up a wet Scottish mountain, as well as synchronised swimmers in a car park, are all risk assessments that I have been asked to write within my various health and safety roles. While not all events are as risky as a man dropping down a pole onto a chainsaw as with Britain’s got Talent this year, managing risk is not for the faint hearted.

Bringing new audiences into unfamiliar surroundings can throw up a number of risks. A pharmaceutical conference may not have the same risks as a motorbike stunt show. However, there are risks that should in all cases be considered and controlled.

My friends think it a little absurd that someone who has sky dived, loves rollercoasters that whizz you around till you are sick and can’t stay away from a ski slope or cave dive deals with health and safety on a daily basis. Much of this stems from their misconception that H&S is about being obsessed with banning conkers in playgrounds and candy floss on sticks. However it is my experience that those involved in health and safety more often than not believe that life is about risk taking, and that risks are important in life for learning and indeed fun! The trick is to ensure that they are properly identified and managed.

I am obviously not advocating dangerous or risky broadcasting or events, but ones that allow the risks that are being taken, to be managed properly and with care. Lets hug our risks, and encompass them in care and parameters rather, than banishing them!

“Prior planning prevents a p*** poor performance” my Dad used to say – he couldn’t be more right! The Health and Safety Executive in their event guidelines require all event organisers to ask themselves the following questions when planning an event:

  • Have you decided who will help you with your duties?
  • Is there a clear understanding within the organising team of who will be responsible for safety matters?
  • Have you risk assessed your event and prepared a safety plan?
  • Did you involve your workers during the planning of your event?
  • Did you liaise with other agencies?
  • Have you gathered and assessed relevant information to help you determine whether you have selected suitable and competent contractors?
  • Have you provided the right workplace facilities?
  • Have you planned for incidents and emergencies? “

Considered health and safety management through planning, documentation, security provisions and implementation of risk precautions ensures that the safety of your attendees, contractors, performers, VIPs and VVIPs is paramount. Cautious checking of suppliers, their insurance, method statements and risk assessments is key. If they can’t provide robust, detailed documentation you don’t want them as part of your broadcast or event.

The careful management of your events can also be a clear marketing tool. As an organiser of the broadcast of Hyde Park festival in a day and Proms in the Park, it was essential to ensure that that the security provisions were as stringent as possible given the potential terrorist threat. With 250,000 tickets sold for an event in central London, security provision was key! I also work at the Nomad, throughout all the various locations from Lidos to Churches, where the safety of our attendees is well documented, well resourced and carefully planned for. This is no small feat given the health and safety requirements of over 60 extremely varied locations and the potential inevitable with the outdoor arm of the Nomad – the weather! Upon a recent health and safety audit by the Grosvenor Estate health and safety team, the Nomad was given 3 out of 3 stars for its attention to health and safety and the comments were that the Nomad team was “excellent, open and extremely professional.”

Health and safety may not be the most glamorous or most straightforward part of organising an event. However, it is a necessity and utterly important in the planning and execution-so don’t banish the risk or the fun – keep the creatives creating! Embrace the creative, the fun and the risk to provide your stunning memorable moment so that it can go down in history for all the right reasons!