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The work of an event manager can be a daunting task as his or her work is crucial to the success of the event. The primary responsibility of an event manager is to ensure that all aspects of the event are up and running. From the tiniest bit of detail to the most generic aspects of the event, the event manager ensures that nothing goes wrong. Part of the work of the event manager is to ensure the safety of the people involved in the event. While this is so, certain legislations such as the New South Wales Occupational Health and Safety Act of 2000 (OHS Act 2000) require all organizations to identify, assess, and manage the risks to the health and safety of all people in the workplace, including the employees, contractors, as well as the participants or the visitors. With the primary goal of protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people involved, OHS Act of 2000 provides a powerful influence in the elimination (if not, reduction) of the accidents and/or incidents in the workplace, which eventually provides substantial benefits to all stakeholders, be it moral, social and financial benefits.
A safety culture is one that constitutes attitudes, values, norms and beliefs to which a specific group of people share in terms of risk and safety (Health and Safety Commission 1993). Recognizing that the health and safety of all people is of utmost importance, this report aims to illustrate an understanding of the different issues relating to the provision of a healthy and safe working environment. The report will focus on the requirements that a specific event contractor provides the event manager to ensure the health and safety of the people involved. The report will present the different documents that the event contractor must present to the event manager to comply with the OHS legislation. Some of the documents discussed in this paper are: (1) policy statements, (2) safety manuals and guidelines, and (3) risk management and control schedules. Other documents presented in this report include the some detailed checklists to ensure the health and safety of all persons involved in a specific event. The report gives a primary focus to a production and staging company as the specific event contractor to be used in providing a safe and healthy working environment.
Murphy's Law states that, "If anything can go wrong, it will, when you least expect it and at the worst possible time" (Tonge 2010: 68). Indeed, it has been acknowledged that risks are natural and inherent in life. No matter how seemingly safe it is, there will be instances when things can go wrong. To make matters worse, incidents such as these may amount to as little as a thousand of dollars to a million just because of a company's negligence in providing a safe and healthy environment for its people and participants. Not only that, it may even take another person's life.
To illustrate, there are many examples of incidents that may have resulted to injuries and even deaths. Recently, for example, pop singer Leona Lewis, few down a lift shaft during one of her concerts (Lee 2010). Lewis, apparently, fell down several feet into a dim hole when the hydraulic lift she had been using to convey her to and from the stage malfunctioned. This incident, however, resulted to zero injuries for that matter. But, over the course of time, there have been many other mishaps in events such as accidents involving malfunctions of equipment used during the events (such as the case of Lewis), accidents involving fire, and many other accidents due to utter negligence. One of the most common of these accidents involve fire, like for Metallica frontmen James Hetfield, during one of the bands performance in Montreal's Olympic Stadium in 1992 as he accidentally stepped into a 12-foot tower of flame, which shot up at the perimeters of the stage as part of the pyrotechnics of the show. Consequently, the frontman suffered from burns (second and third degrees) in the different parts of his body such as his arm, hand, face, hair and eyebrows. Hetfield was then compelled to abandon the tour for his own safety and recovery from his wound (Thornhill 2010). In another similar scenario involving fire on stage, Gene Simmons during a performance in New York also set his hair on fire. Luckily for him, someone immediately was able to give him a wet towel to extinguish the flames. Even the King of Pop, Michael Jackson caught himself on fire. He was doing the commercial ad for Pepsi in 1884 when his hair also caught fire from the pyrotechnics display. Because of this, Jackson suffered from second degree burns and Pepsi paid $1.5 million for the damages (Thornhill 2010).
Past incidents and accidents in events such as those mentioned above have prompted event management companies to take the necessary action to eliminate, if not, lessen the risks of incidents and accidents. Such practice came to be known as risk management --- a continuing, incorporated and iterative process, which (1) anticipates what can go wrong (also known as risks), (2) identifies such risks, (3) analyses the probability of the risk, (4) approximates the impact of such risk, (5) resolves on the prevention of the risk, and (6) communicates the risks and actions needed to be undertaken when necessary (Tum, Norton & Wright 2006). According to Comcare (2005), there are basically six elements that should constitute the OHS risk management system as seen in the figure below:
Figure 1. Six Elements in the OHS Risk Management System (Comcare, 2005: 4)
In the practice of risk management, the analyses of some of the basic elements in events planning are significantly relevant, such as the nature of the event, the nature of the occupants or participants, the density of the crowd, access or egress movement, way of egress, flow aptitude and control, communication systems, fire hazards, containment systems, structural integrity, conditions of the facilities and equipment, and its operations and personnel (Silvers 2008). Such elements are presented in the table below:
Nature of the event
The reason or purpose of the event and its emotional components (i.e. competitiveness), the duration and time of day of the said event, as well as the activities to be carried out are known to influence the computation of safe occupancy loads.
Nature of the participants
The nature of the participants will be used to calculate the behaviour of the participants in reaction to any emergency. Such details include gender, age, physical abilities, sensory abilities, reason for participating or attending.
Density of crowd
The size and the density of the crowd will ultimately influence the movement ability, further affecting the occupancy load allowed by the fire marshal.
Access or egress movement
Still known to influence the occupancy loads and the evacuation flow capacity, the access or egress movements include volumes and patterns of arrival and departure, practices and policies concerning ticketing, crown traffic flow (i.e. counter flow, cross flow, congestion, and queuing conditions), building components (i.e. physical dimensions, complexities and contents).
Way of egress
Way of egress is the continuous and clear way of exit travel from any point in a building to a public way that permits participants to swiftly exit the building in case of emergency situations.
Flow aptitude and control
Flow aptitude refers to the number of people capable of going through a particular space or route in a specific amount of time under specific situations. This may be significantly influenced by other factors such s stairs, seating, merging of traffic along egress paths, etc.
Systems pertaining to communications may include visual and audible notification systems with emergency powers to effectively relay messages especially above ambient noise levels.
As to the hazards pertaining fire and/or explosions, certain elements must be considered such as the character of the contents, configuration as well as the operations carried out.
Factors such as the number, functionality and efficiency of suppression systems (i.e. automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers) must be adequate to need for such event.
Structures --- permanent, temporary, moveable and non-structural are to be assessed in terms of their load limits and stability.
Conditions of the facilities and equipment
Facilities are to be evaluated including its attributes and quality, amenities, maintenance and cleanliness as well as services offered.
Operations and personnel
This is significantly important to be able to assess the employee readiness in case of emergencies. Factors included here are attitudes, knowledge and training.
Adapted from Silvers 2008: 83-84
Documents for Compliance
Australian OH & S Risk Management Services or ARMS provides a simple Yes/No checklist to know whether your business or company is compliant to the requirements of the OHS Act 2000. One only needs to answer all of the questions YES to completely compliant. The specific questions are as follows:
Do you have a formal OHS Policy? Yes/No
Have you established a consultation process with your staff? Yes/No
Do you have a risk assessment process for identifying, assessing and controlling hazards? Yes/No
Have you developed safe work method statements for each job type? Yes/No
Do you have clearly defined Manual Handling processes & training Yes/No
Is your First Aid Kit compliant and up-to-date Yes/No
Do you have a return to work programme in place in the event of an injury occurring? Yes/No
Nevertheless, while the checklist above may indicate some areas of opportunity or improvement for risk management systems, risk management systems, in compliance to the OHS Act 2000, is more complex and comprehensive than this checklist. Many documents are needed to comply with the OHS Act 2000 such as the (1) policy statements, (2) safety manuals and guidelines, and (3) risk management and control schedules. Each of which will be discussed in the proceeding sections of this paper.
OHS Policy Statements
It can be said that the OHS policy statements are the heart of the OHS risk management system. Such policy statements must attempt to create a safety culture and communicate the firm's leadership commitment to occupational health and safety to all employees --- from top to lower level management and even to rank-and-file positions. The policy statements should embody the ground works for development, implementation and enhancement of the organisation's OHS risk management systems as it provides a starting point for all the goals that the organisation wants to achieve pertaining to its occupational health and safety standards (Karwowski 2006).
Safety Manuals and Guidelines
The OHS Manual will serve as a framework to which the employees can always turn to whenever they have some questions or clarifications in terms of how to do their jobs safely. Such manual have been established due to two primary reasons: (1) organisations do not rely on one person to communicate to or teach other employees what they know about the safety measure of their work and (2) the safety manuals lays out all information regarding the safe work standards by the organisation, thus, if such a time that any inspection or question from government assessors, the manual can provide such detailed information.
Risk Management and Control Schedules
In conducting the risk management and control schedule, the most important thing to do is basically to identify the different risks involved and evaluate their likelihood and consequences, thus be able to respond to it appropriately when such thing does occur during the said event. While this may be conducted on the regular basis, such decisions on actions to be done should be revisited to ensure their implementation.
Safety Management System for Production/Staging Company
The following is a detailed assessment of some risks that can occur with reference to the contractor involved, which is the production/staging company.
General Safe Work Practices
General safe work practices must be implemented all throughout the event as well as prior and subsequent to the event. The following are the different working hazards identified:
Hazards pertaining to ergonomics exist due to certain awkward postures or repetitive actions that workers must execute for the job to be done. Such hazards may occur due to either the limited space of working area or the requirement of wearing certain suits or devices which stipulate very awkward positions. The production/staging contractor must be able to identify the different risks involved and eliminate such risks. If not, contractor must find ways to address such problem through either by taking regular short breaks from such position to alleviate the risk.
Potential Changes in and of Work Environment
This is substantially important for the production/staging company wherein their operations may vary from one location to the other. Workers must be aware of the potential hazards involved and management must ensure that workers become responsible for any housekeeping issues, so as not to pose any further risks. Workers must be knowledgeable of certain access to emergency needs such as fire equipments, first aid equipments, and other power boards. All access and ways of egress must be kept unobstructed at all times.
It is highly relevant that good housekeeping is maintained, wherein each individual workplace must be kept properly kept at all times and ensure that passageways are kept clear.
When working, appropriate lighting must at all be times used. If working in darkness or any other weakened lights and cannot be avoided especially in productions, certain considerations must be made especially so as not to damage the vision of the workers. Furthermore, if such cases that there will be a need to switch from very bright lights to low ones or the other way around, appropriate considerations must also be made. Passageways must be kept clear when using weak lights so as to minimize tripping or falling, especially on stairs, etc. Furthermore, appropriate warning signs must be visible when switched must be made. Communication might be disrupted due to weak lights for people with hearing disabilities.
Temperature of working environment must be well-assessed in any aspect of the production or event to minimise the risks involved in extreme exposure to heat and cold, especially to sites where temperature cannot be controlled (i.e. outdoor events). Temperature must be consistently monitored, wherein acceptable temperatures must be taken into consideration depending on the type of event. In any type of event, there should be appropriate suits or clothing must be made available for workers.
Smoking can only be allowed in designated areas so as to minimise event of fire. Smoking areas must be assessed and should take into consideration other issues involved, most especially the locations of the type of materials used for the event (i.e. fabrics, costumes, props). The company shall provide appropriate cigarette extinguishers like ashtrays and sandboxes to be positioned in such a manner that is accessible to the smokers.
Alcohol and other Drugs
In the working environment, it is prohibited at all times to bring or use any illegal drugs. In addition, no alcohol should be consumed especially during working hours without the permission of the contractor or event organiser. In such case wherein a worker is intoxicated while at work and the worker's performance at work is ultimately affected, then the management may insist on removing him/her from the workplace. If such instance that worker is on medication, then he/she will have to advice the management or supervisor first prior to working, especially if this will influence her ability to perform his/her tasks.
Aggression can pose a potential hazards as it can develop in consequence of certain issues like meeting due dates, pressure, inadequate rest and meals and other production stresses. To address such concern, management must be able to sufficiently plan and schedule the stages of production and staging so as to minimise this risk.
Fatigue may happen especially in staging and production as the event gets nearer. Management must ensure that workers get appropriate rest, good diet and exercise in working for a specific event.
Other Medical Conditions
A Medical Questionnaire should be given to all workers that would indicate any medical conditions that may influence or affect his/her ability to perform his/her work. See appendix for sample medical form. Whatever information is indicated in this survey is to be treated with utmost confidentiality and not to be used to discriminate the person in any way. The access, storage and archiving of such information will be upheld compliant to legislation.
Workers must be properly secured and safe at all times during the time they are working on a production or event. Reasonable measures must be undertaken to ensure that all are safe and secured.
Working on Stage
For the production/staging company, several risks can be formulated in working on stage. Actual scenarios indicated earlier proved that accidents do happen on stage and it is the contractor's duty to alleviate such occurrence of risks. Here are some of the factors that must be considered:
Some risks involving performance activities may range from high to low risk levels. Such incidents may include minor to major accidents produced from:
Design and/or operation of harnesses or swings used for the show
Incorrect or unsafe equipments and props
Inefficient fall protection systems
Sudden change of scenes
Potential hazards in producing/staging may occur in any particular event. Such hazards include:
Water on stage
Participants, performers or other employees exposure to dangerous substances or other physical hazards such as explosives, pyrotechnics, smoke, dry ice, and fog machines
Use of vehicles on stage
Weather and environmental issues (i.e. temperature and humidity)
Insufficient, unsafe and/or flawed communication systems
Insufficient maintenance of facility or equipment
Hazards pertaining to stage elevators, holes, elevated areas
Unsuitable performance surfaces (i.e. insufficient supported floors
Insufficient access and egress points in multi-level stages
Unequal risers and step heights
Fire hazards (i.e. exposure to materials that are highly flammable )
Hazards for Outdoor Events
In such cases wherein the events are held outdoors, certain considerations must be made in terms of safety and health such as weather conditions. If such case that the safety and welfare of the participants and the employees, the event may need to be cancelled or postponed, which is at the discretion of the events manager and appropriate authorities. If such event may require specific weather conditions, strict compliance must be adhered at all times. The problem with outdoor events is unpredictability of weather conditions. In some cases, extreme temperatures, whether too hot or too cold, poses great dangers towards the health of the participants and the employees. In a hot day, there is the risk of heat stroke. Performers may also need to wear their costumes that will restrict their breathing abilities. In contrast, for extremely cold weather conditions, little clothing required to be worn for a certain performance in cold conditions may also pose potential risks. Access to other factors such as water, fans, shades, resting facilities and shade must also be taken into consideration.
Aside from extreme temperature, there is also the risk of high or gusting winds which may potentially cause the risk of destruction of stage facilities and other facilities that may easily be blown by the air. The event may need to be cancelled if such weather conditions occur. There is also the problem of lightning, wherein special precautions must be undertaken such that lightning may ultimately affect communication and lighting systems. Wet weather also poses dangerous risk in outdoor events when slipping hazards can significantly be increased because of damp surface and reduced visibility. In such cases, there is also the danger of electrocution due to the use of electrical devices during the event, couple with the wet weather. To ensure that electrical current does not come in contact with water, the devices must be appropriately protected at all times. In such cases wherein the events are to be held in or near water, there is always that risk of tides and floods which must be properly assessed prior to the event.