Safety – some don’t get it

At times it seems that the safety message is getting through, that is until you come across some rather disturbing images on the Dodgy Technicians Facebook page. Over the last day of so a couple of pictures from River Sessions (held in Mackay, Queensland) have emerged which show what looks like a rather badly built stage 3. It appears from the images that the roofing and truss are held up by simple winch ups. These types of winch ups are not fit for the purpose to support a roofing structure outdoors. There appears to be know guy cables to hold it down to the ground if the wind gets up. If things went wrong and this structure came down on people there would be hell to pay. Everyone from techs working on the show to the promoter are all likely to be looked at by the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. If you look at the photographs in question you can see what is potentially wrong.

Now I am basing my assumptions on some photos and what other are saying online. The photos seem genuine as they had been taken by punters at the event. I am also only talking about one stage that was at the event I have not seen any other pictures of the other stages so I will not be commenting about them.

Surely these days event organisers are aware of their responsibility’s to everybody on site. There must have been a site risk management plan and surely a safety officer on site that knew what to look for, and the techs working on this event must have questioned the safety of this particular structure. To quote from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website:

“Public events

Safety at public events is the responsibility of the individual or group conducting the event.

Many public events are commercial enterprises, such as speedway racing, professionally run sporting events and music festivals. However, there are also other public events that are held as fund raising activities for charities or not-for-profit organisations, such as fun runs.

Duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for people conducting public events

When a public event is conducted by a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) (the Act) applies and the PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • the health and safety of workers in the workplace
  • that work carried out as part of the event does not put the health and safety of participants or spectators at risk
  • the work environment is without potential risks to health and safety
  • plant and structures are safe
  • systems of work are safe.

In doing what is reasonably practicable, the PCBU must meet the standard of behaviour expected of a reasonable person in their position who is required to comply with the same duty and is:

  • committed to providing the highest level of protection for people against risks to their health and safety
  • proactive in taking measures to protect the health and safety of people.

Patrons attending an event may encounter health and safety risks when attending an event. For example, when visiting the saddling up yard at a horse racing event, or by participating in a fun run.

An event organiser needs to anticipate the likelihood that patrons will be exposed to risks to health and safety and provide reasonably practicable control measures in response. These can include:

  • increasing supervision
  • providing information and signage
  • providing barriers and/or restricting entry to certain areas or activities.

Workers and other persons such as patrons at public events conducted by PCBUs also have a duty of care under the Act to:

  • take reasonable care for their own health and safety
  • take reasonable care that they do not adversely affect the health and safety of others
  • comply with reasonable instructions given by the PCBU.”

So anyone that is organising and running an event can actually find out what their requirements are under the law from this particular website. There are also people out there that can give advise in regards to safety. So why is this sort of thing still happening? did they go for the cheapest option? Is the profit more important than safety?

If you are an Event Manager/ Promoter etc please actually consider WHS. If you think it is too hard, well give up and get another job. We don’t want you in this industry jeopardising our lifes. Work, Health and Safety are a fact of life and has been for many years. You need to look after the folk working your event and the punters, because if they get injured or killed because you had been slack with you risk assessments and plans you are going to feel the full weight of the law. If you have not made sure that the event is as safe as possible and you have planned for any contingency you will injure or kill someone.  Going for the cheapest option could end up costing everybody more. As an industry this would mean so much red tape and regulation that it would kill off a lot of shows. We as an industry do want to do it safely, but it seems there are cowboys out there. These cowboys could destroy what the industry is working towards, a safe place to work and the chance to go home at the end of the day.

For further information I would also keep an eye on the good publication CX, either in print or online as I imagine Julius and the team are right on top of this as well, and likely to get even more information than I can.

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