Health and Safety @ Festivals

What goes on behind the scenes?


Posted on: 02/06/2015   By: Lee Rance

I recently read an article in the SHP magazine (‘Safety and Health Practitioner’ if you’re interested) that piqued my interest. Not only because it was health and safety related but also because it concerned music festivals. In my youth I was a regular festival goer from Glastonbury and Reading to some more local intimate affairs.

When you are enjoying yourself in the sunshine (or wading in the mud) it never enters your mind as to just what goes on behind the scenes to make it possible for so many people to attend these events safely.

festival - CopyThe article mainly focuses on how it is possible for event organisers to find health and safety solutions without impacting the entertainment too much, it’s all about finding the balance between acceptable risk whilst still putting on a good show. With live events becoming more and more elaborate, the solutions to managing the risks sometimes need to be quite creative. Some of the things that event organisers need to consider are:

  • Managing construction and contractors that are required to erect any stages, marquees or other temporary structures and the workforce that goes with it.
  • Noise levels – not just for the audience but for staff, volunteers and the local community as well.
  • Welfare facilities, staffing, contingencies and crowd management – this will depend on the size of the event.
  • Weather – having plans in place for all eventualities.
  • Environmental issues – dealing with waste.

The Purple Guide is a document specifically designed to help those who organise music or similar events, so that the events can run safely. This was originally published by the HSE in consultation with the industry but has since been re-issued by the Events Industry Forum.

Event’s organisers have a general duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees. They also have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that others – including volunteers and spectators – are not exposed to risks to their health and safety arising from the operation of the event.

As well as The Health and Safety at Work act 1974, the guide also covers other legislation across the industry including the Licensing Act 2003, the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The HSE also has a section on event safety on their website. There is a mine of information to aid event organisers plan their events safely. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Venue and site design
  • Temporary demountable structures
  • Crowd management
  • Transport
  • Special effects
  • Noise
  • Amusements and attractions
  • Employee welfare
  • Handling waste

It is important that organisers plan and manage events to reduce the risk of injury and illness to all those involved whether they are workers or revellers, but this doesn’t have to impact on the entertainment itself. Health and safety doesn’t have to be complicated.

Until next time.

Lee Rance