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What does supervision mean on an event site?

This week’s blog post is penned by our Safety Consultant, Rob Haworth, who, in normal times, could find himself providing safety support on a festival site one day and an automotive stunt test site the next…

What does supervision mean on an event site?

During all phases of an event project, it is important to make sure that everyone is working safely, and in the way that you expect them to- as per the project-specific risk assessments and method statements.  Whether it’s during the build and dismantle stages of the project – which will fall under event CDM and may or may not be notifiable to HSE – or the ‘live’ stage when your audience is present, one of the best ways to ensure the safety of your team is to make sure there is adequate supervision of their work.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to have many layers of staffing on an event site – nor does it mean that every single element needs to be micromanaged – there are however many benefits to making sure that your event site is run safely, but first, we have to talk about training…

Training your staff

The Health & Safety Executive (the body for managing health and safety in the UK) is clear that training is very important – and everyone involved in managing event should have some degree of understanding when it comes to event health and safety – for your wider team this can be accomplished through event health and safety training well in advance of going to site for your event.  But as is often the case, many people (freelancers, suppliers, the venue etc) will be involved in the on-site phases and won’t be known to the organisers until just before the event.  

On-site training can be simple and easy to achieve, but will also make supervising your teams much easier.  Training can include an induction on arrival to site, letting everyone know what is expected of them, and for more difficult or complex items a quick chat amongst those involved should make things run more smoothly.  Where possible you should note these down – what was said, when it happened and who was there.

Benefits of good supervision

Supervising for health and safety is really important.  It will help your team to understand that everyone on the project is important and that the leadership are thinking of the safety of all those involved.  By closely monitoring the work of everyone on a project, areas of potential event risk can be identified early, reducing incident and accident rates which in turn can reduce cost, increase morale and protect from unforeseen delays.  In addition, effective supervision can help you monitor the effectiveness of the training that people have received, and whether employees have the necessary skills to do the job.

What do you need to consider?

Special consideration and higher levels of supervision should be given to young and inexperienced workers, those that are new to their role or those for whom English is not their first language.  Workers should know how to raise concerns and communicate with their supervisors, as well as each other.

Who can supervise?

Anyone can be a supervisor on site – but consideration should be given to the work that they will be supervising and their general level of awareness and understanding of the project and the work to be carried out.  Some larger and more complex projects may have dedicated event safety supervisors – however this isn’t always necessary for smaller projects.  Supervisors will need to understand the specific processes which are taking place and have a comprehensive understanding of the risks that could be involved in these.  Supervisors should also ensure that control measures are in place and are maintained at all times, and should have a way of recording what is happening on a project. Sometimes larger venues will specify a qualification your supervisor, or person responsible for safety, should have.

Safety Leadership

Leading your team on event health and safety is key to having a successful show.  Safe ways of working shouldn’t just be ‘bolted on’ to the process of delivering the project – they should be built in from the outset to ensure the best levels of compliance, understanding by workers and reduce the likelihood of an accident.