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Risky business

Chris Hannam of Stagesafe and Chris Horner of Horner Salus are two experts in the health and safety sector with a clear view of the importance of following procedure when it comes to plan and execute an outdoor event.

Stagesafe is an event health and safety consultancy for the music and live event industry whereas Horner Salus offers a range of services from advice and consultancy to planning, documentation, feasibility studies, capacity calculations, onsite safety management.

Both agree that a budget for safety shouldn’t be overlooked. “Common problems are promoters who hire consultants by price only. There are a lot of under qualified and inexperienced people claiming to be safety consultants,” says Hannam who explains that a safety consultant acts in the same way as an accountant. “They can help and advise you but they can’t do it all for you.”

Horner concurs adding that it’s important for organisers to understand the legal requirements. “We work with some amazing clients and venues that ‘get it’. But often, our work is cut out for us when working with organisations that don’t appreciate what they have to do in the eyes of the law. We have a carefully considered approach when it comes to expecting the unexpected.”

Legal requirements

There is a legal requirement under Regulation 7 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations that requires employers to appoint competent persons such as a safety consultant to advise and help them discharge their health and safety duties.

Horner: e majority of folk we deal with have got a good understanding of what makes for a safe event. e phrase ‘reasonably practicable’ is often poorly used as a reason for not towing the line, but we’re a way of helping to paint a picture showing their event aspirations being realised but in a safe manner.

Hannam explains that the main responsibility as a consultant is to protect its client and give them correct advice and information. “I am legally negligent if I do not do this and so Professional Indemnity Insurance is essential; so far I have never made a claim,” he says.

After an event a good debriefing session really helps with future projects and an understanding what has been achieved.

Obviously, it depends on the specific agreement made with a client. “In terms of before an event, visiting the site to review the spaces and the inherent general and fire safety equipment to carrying out a capacity study to producing the key safety documentation and all things in between,” comments Horner.

Evolving sector

The health and safety sector has evolved over the past couple of weeks There is now an improved health and safety culture but it’s still a very long way from being perfect. “We all have a lot to do and we need to get away from so many generic risk assessments,” Hannam comments.

For Horner, the focus on events and their safety is ever growing. “Believe it or not, many of our newer clients are fledgling companies competing with their more established counterparts, and they are keen to do everything responsibly, rather than simply just competing for the same pound. It’s refreshing,” he says.

As the outdoor events scene expands, the role of a safety consultant also changes and resources have to be made available for these such as track management planning, keeping members of the public unaffected by the event, prohibiting illegal substances entering the event, weather and countless other factors.

The terror threat level on the rise has also made an impact in the events industry. Hannam comments: “We are certainly seeing a need to be more involved with the prevention of terrorist activities. Everyone has duties where this is concerned but its security that normally take the lead in this department.”

Outdoor and live events will continue to work under the current climate. “We all hope the situation comes to a peaceful resolution very soon,” Horner concludes.