Theatre Safety

Safety should be a paramount concern for all those people involved in putting on a stage production. Whether you are a venue or the production company you need to be worried about the potential risk to anyone involved. The reason for these guidelines is to help you navigate through the process of understanding. A lot of the Occupational Health and safety regulations are a matter of common sense. These guidelines have been developed from the regulations and put into a theatrical context. But remember these are only guidelines and you should check with your local authorities as regulations vary from state to state and country to country.

By following these ideas and concepts you should be able to put on the type of show that you want with the minimum of hazards, and what hazards that may exist, you have put into place control measures.

So where do we start?

Well to state the obvious – Good management and risk planning will reduce incidents in the workplace. The health and safety of persons in the workplace is a shared responsibility between the producing company, the venue and the workers.

Every state there is in place OH & S legislation that applies to all workplaces. All productions, events, and venues must comply with the relevant legislation and any person found working outside of these requirements may be subject to fines and/or prosecution. This legislation, in particular, requires all organisations involved in the entertainment field to:

  • Have policies and procedures that aim to protect the health and safety of all;
  • Ensure such policies and procedures are documented and available to all;
  • Undertake risk assessments to identify hazards and implement appropriate controls measures;
  • Consult with all involved in the workplace.
  • Now you may think that amateur or community based companies don’t have to comply, but that is not so. Just because you do not pay any wages or salary to anyone does not mean you are exempt. Volunteer organizations still have to fulfill their duty of care to their workers whether they are paid or unpaid.

Roles and Responsibilities

Workers

All workers have key roles in the implementation of health and safety. It is in their own interests and a legal obligation. All workers therefore have a responsibility to ensure that nothing is done to make health and safety provisions less effective.

All the people involved with an event or production must ensure that as far as it is practicable, that their work practices and equipment are not likely to result in damage to themselves, to others or their work place.

All persons involved in a production need to:

  • Work in a healthy and safe way
  • Make sure they do not place other people in danger through AN ACT OR OMMISSION AT WORK
  • Obey all instructions, such as policies and procedures issued to protect their own safety, safety of others and to adhere to standard work procedures.
  • Encourage others to work in a safe manner
  • Cooperate, consult on and promote health and safety in the work place
  • Report and work to rectify any hazards within the workplace
  • Report any injuries and incidents to their supervisor as soon as possible after the incident
  • Ensure the correct use is made of all equipment provides for safety purposes.
  • Ensure that the consumption of drugs or alcohol does not impair the safe work conditions
  • Cooperate with investigating authorities.

Employers and Contractors

The producing company ( this includes schools, dance schools etc) and the venue owner/manager also have specific responsibilities for the occupational health and safety of thier employee, contractors and other people in the work environment.

All workers, contractors and volunteers must be made aware of all the hazards that may impact upon themselves, their staff or others and what risk control measures have been put into place for their protection.

Everybody in the workplace should be involved in the process of developing a safe workplace.

The producing company and the venue must ensure that there is an emergency and evacuation plan in place and that all people in the workplace know what it involves.

Workplace safety is a continuous evolving process. As new shows are developed, new hazards come to notice. So everybody needs to develop an eye to assessing the situation and then developing a process that will make it safe.  This process is call risk assessment. There will be more about this later.

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