Protecting your event staff and contractors in a Covid-19 world

This is the first of a two part series looking at ways event organisers, suppliers to the events industry and employers can protect their staff and contractors when working with Covid-19

Now that we can start to think about (hopefully!) delivering events in the not-too-distant future, how do we approach protecting our staff at each stage of the project life cycle?

First, let’s remind ourselves of the fundamental principle of an employer’s responsibility under the (UK) Health & Safety at Work Act 1974:

“It is an employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business. Employers must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.”

Health & Safety at Work Act (1974)

This means that an employer needs to ensure that their workers (and other people; for example audience, contractors or members of the public) are protected from anything that may cause them harm and should try to control or reduce the risk of injury or health issues that could arise in the workplace, so far as is reasonably practicable (determined by balancing cost, time and trouble). 

This includes an event site, no matter if it’s temporary, one-off or owned by someone else. Across your event project life cycle, there may be multiple venues or environments in which to consider your team’s safety. 

We undertake a Risk Assessment in order to identify the hazards associated with all works being undertaken, but now, in the age of COVID-19, there are additional factors to consider in this risk assessment. This should be worked through before colleagues are brought back into the working environment.  

Protecting your event staff in a Covid-19 World

Please use this as food for thought, but it is a non-exhaustive list – contact us if you’d like an analysis of considerations specific to your workplace or event. 

Project Management and Pre-production

Employ enough staff to deliver the project safely, but consider where and how this planning work needs to take place. We’ve all adapted well to Zoom meetings; but yes, there’s nothing quite like being in person to brainstorm ideas… but is it reasonably practicable to bring the whole team together in a room vs. the increased health risks?   If it is necessary, think about the venue for the meeting carefully (lots of space, open windows etc.) and consider asking staff to wear face masks; particularly if people will be speaking loudly, or for a long time, to the group. 

If staff are returning to work in the office consider whether any of the following can be implemented: extra space per desk, a one-way system in the office, install instructional signage, increased cleaning schedule for toilets, consider restricting use of communal areas such as kitchens, staggered work times, staggered days in the office, open windows (or check the specification of your air ventilation system).  

Make sure staff attending site visits at venues are aware of specific protocols the venue has in place and ensure they have the PPE required for their journey and whilst in the meeting. Only send essential staff. 

If you need to hold rehearsals for an event with entertainment suppliers or performing arts groups, the government has published some guidance here which may be helpful. Consult artists and talents on their own hygiene needs and requirements if it isn’t your area of expertise. 

Communicate and educate staff with all the new measures relating to COVID-19.  Remind staff not to attend the office if they feel unwell and assist with arrangements for them to work from home if they are well enough to do so. Encourage them to have a COVID-19 test if they are unwell.