Risk Assessment Guidelines

Risk assessment is the process of considering every phase of a production and working out what hazards are involved. All work processes need to be taken into consideration. Where a hazard exists and a risk identified you should document them and also the control measures. The process should involve all the people involved with the production.

Below you will find some information on risk assessment, which is designed to help you think about the risk assessment process.

Below is what I put together for a venue.

The idea of doing a risk assessment might seem daunting at first. But it is put into place to protect you, the performers, crew and audience.

There are several factors that you need to take into account to do a risk assessment. These can range from the people involved, what their actions are during the event, the equipment that is being used, and the sets that are being designed, built and used. You need to look at the event with fresh eyes, and you will then be able to see the potential hazards and come up with solutions for them.

This risk assessment you are undertaking is wholly about what you are doing and/ or bring into to the venue and also what you might be asking the venue to set up for you.

The legislation in Australia requires that employers etc are to eliminate any reasonably foreseeable hazards and risks, to all persons in the workplace.


Look around for hazards that you could expect to result in injury to people.

Consider who might be harmed.

For example:




Particular attention needs to be paid to:

New and inexperienced workers

Young people

People with disabilities


Is more needed to be done to control the risk?

Check that the controls that you have in place are effective.

Consult the people involved for their input for a solution.

Do they meet legislative requirements?

Do they meet industry standards?

Record your findings

This should show that a proper check was made

You considered who would be affected

You dealt with the obvious hazards

That precautions are reasonable and the remaining risk is low


Here we have included some common hazards that prevalent in theatre.

Smoke and Vapour Effects

All personnel to be warned when used.

To be directed away from exits where possible.

Minimise exposure.

Warning notices placed in venue to warn audiences.

Fire alarm system may have to be isolated; by venue therefore fire warden supplied by venue at your expense has to be on duty

Venue needs to be notified well in advance

Firearms and other Weapons

All firearms have to be deactivated

Only qualified personnel to handle

All swords, knives and blades should be blunt

All weapons to be inspected

Any action requiring weapons to be used has to be choreographed to minimise risk to cast and crew.


Assess if it is really required

Set the flash rate to below 4 cycles per second. Less likely to affect sensitive people.

If using multiple units they should be synced.

All cast and crew to be informed before hand, so that anyone that is sensitive can take adequate precautions.

If strobe is to be used adequate signage is needed.

Naked Flames

Similar risks to smoke effects due to smoke given off by effect

Approval to use they various fuel sources

Are the sets, props and costumes fire retarded or made from material that is fire retardent.

Fire detections systems may have to be isolated. Fire warden required.

Extra fire fighting equipment may have to be supplied.

The effect of extra heat on performers and crew

Adequate number of rehearsals for cast and crew.

Venue needs to be notified well in advance

Ultraviolet light

Adequate warnings for cast and crew.

Some people will be photosensitive if taking certain drugs such as ;

Oral contraceptives, tetracyclines

Minimise exposure where possible.

Make sure audience are not directly exposed.

Sets and Props

Now a lots of companies have been using the same set pieces for a number of years. Now you need to look at them again to see if they comply. There is a variety of Australian Standards and/or Building codes that they need to comply with. If you do bring in to the venue something that does not comply, the venue will not allow you to use that item. There is no negotiation in this matter.

Risks associated with the use of a set must be assessed at the design stage.

There are a lot of elements to look at where sets are concerned. Some these are:

Weight of the various items, manual-handling requirements

Movement of set pieces around the stage before and during event

What static load is it meant to support

What dynamic load is it to support

Fire retardants – what has been used

All platforms, stairs etc need to comply with Australian Standard AS 1657

Stair and edge nosing to be highlighted

All scenic elements that are load bearing, carry people or have the potential to fall have engineering certification.

All applicable parts of scenery have SWL’s(Safe Working Load) clearly visible.

As you can see there is lot in sets and props. We have only skimmed the surface. If you need assistance in this area please do not hesitate to contact the venue for guidance.

Bump In/Bump Out

Manual handling the correct way

One person in charge making sure things go where they are meant and exits, doorways etc are not blocked

That an adequate number of people to assist

Once a vehicle is un-loaded it moved away to carpark.


All electrical equipment that is brought into venue should be tested and tagged in accordance with council regulations.

If not tagged it has to be approved by the venue technician.

All cables taped to floor

No cables to block doors from opening


One person from the event is the main contact for the venue tech. This person is the one responsible to make sure that the venue tech is made aware of what is going on.

This person passes on OH&S material.

There is always someone in contact with venue tech during rehearsals and performances

House Keeping

All cast, crew and FOH staff made aware of exits

All cast, crew and FOH staff made aware of emergency procedures

All exits, doors, and passages to be keep clear

Wing space to be kept tidy

Clients to control audience.

Audience not to go through curtain or to go on stage

Dressing rooms to be kept clean

Consideration to be given to others when using hairsprays etc

All spills to be cleaned up

All accidents and near misses to reported to venue staff and appropriate paperwork to be filled out

Clients are reminded that they are responsible for what happens in the venue, whether the incident happens to the cast, crew or audience. You have to have in place procedures to safeguard all of these people. So you should also supply a first aid kit.

Now this may seem like at lot of effort but by using this information in conjunction with the risk assessments forms will help you if you do have an incident. If you have taken adequate measures you are less likely to end up in litigation.

The next step is to document this. This will be covered in another post


One thought on “Risk Assessment Guidelines

  1. I recall doing SOPs documents when working in an actor-training program. These related to WHS issues for actors. Had you thought of addressing these matters?

    We had to deal with physical stress of performance, including stage combat, voice work and other physical requirements of performance.

    Not strictly tech I know, but interesting under the heading of theatre ‘safety’ and best practice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s