Event Safety Myths Busting

Here are a few of our favourite common Event Safety myths to bust…

Freelancers don’t need their own Public Liability Insurance (PLI) when working for a client (e.g. an event / design agency or production company). 

This is not true. It doesn’t matter which role you’re undertaking; from Project Coordinator through to Producer or Production Manager- you need insurance. Yes, the client will have Employers’ Liability Insurance and probably some form of event insurance, but if they are contracting you as a freelancer (you pay your own tax, National Insurance and don’t receive holiday or sick pay from them) you are not fully covered under this. If you negligently hurt somebody or damaged something on site which became an insurance claim there is only so far in which your client would be able to cover you. 

You can copy and paste your safety documentation (e.g Event Management Plan) for a repeat or similar event.

Sure, use it as the basis, but it must be reviewed thoroughly and made event specific for each new venue and new event. For example, a touring production might be exactly the same installation at each venue, but the venue might have new challenges or considerations which affect how the build takes place, methods of construction, a change in climate, a different local crew company, changes to how the public interact with it… or simply a difference in how your staff get to and from work! Always review your paperwork and adapt to the new setting, don’t just change the venue name in the title. 

CDM (Construction (Design and Management) Regulations) don’t apply to the events industry.

All event projects should now (since 2015) follow construction health and safety considerations laid out within CDM for event projects, which includes compiling supporting documentation.  This starts at the initial project conception to ensure it is designed and managed in alignment with the HSE’s guidance and regulations for ensuring the safety and welfare of staff and anyone affected by your works associated with the event (crew, client, the public, artists, visitors, stakeholders etc.)

Your project may or may not be ‘notifiable’ under CDM, but either way it still needs to comply with the standards laid out within it and you must compile the documentation to support this and allocate specific CDM event roles of responsibility.  Read more about event CDM.

If your staff have completed IOSH Managing Safely they can cover off all of your safety documentation and on-site safety management requirements. 

Another of those event safety myths – putting your staff through event health & safety training is brilliant; it will aid their understanding of not only the legal requirements of the events industry under health & safety law, but will also help them adopt a safety thought-process right from the start of their projects through to managing them on site; saving time, resources and stakeholder confidence.  

However, relying on them to deliver all that is required from a safety perspective is unlikely to be reasonable or viable. 

Firstly, they already have their own work to be doing; safety planning and paperwork should not be a hurried task.  It needs to be undertaken by someone who has the time and resources to do it properly; for example checking safety alignment conversations are happening between all members of the team and contractors, auditing contractors’ safety documentation, preparing the safety procedures for on site (e.g. inductions, pedestrian routes, plant checks), and ensuring local authority or venue paperwork deadlines are met and the event has applied for the correct licences.  

Secondly it should be undertaken by someone who has suitable competency (knowledge and experience) for the size and complexity of the event.  They need to be able to understand the different disciplines within the project sufficiently enough to ask the right questions, they need to be able to decipher multiple contractors documentation, notice omissions of detail or flag up when work methods, timings or safety expectations seem to be misaligned.