The height of safe practice

Supplier and ContractorsEvents and ShowsOrganisersVenues+-
Construction-new-resized.jpg

Andrew Harrison, ESSA director on continuing to build a robust, safety-first, working culture in events and exhibitions.

 

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) tells us that an average of 50 workers in the UK die, and 8,700 are seriously injured every year in falls from working at height.


Although the numbers are steadily falling with each year, many deaths and injuries from falls are eminently preventable.


At a recent exhibition held in the UK, inspectors from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) performed an announced, scheduled safety inspection during the construction phase of the event. As always, the HSE conducted its inspection cordially and professionally, but in the course of their observations, the inspectors became very concerned at the number of contractors working unsafely at height. The inspector we spoke to after the exhibition, who had been part of the inspecting team, estimated that there was ’70 per cent per cent actionable misuse’ among contractors working at height.


The inspectors were judging contractors against the HSE’s regulations, and any contractors found operating outside the guidelines were counselled on working safely at height and given a HSE contact card. As in previous exhibition and event inspections the HSE inspectors were more concerned with raising awareness of working at height than instigating any formal proceedings, and none of the ‘actionable failings’ that they observed were taken any further. The HSE has been very supportive in this respect.


Nevertheless, a 70 per cent incidence of unsafe working at height is a very concerning figure. Some gentle probing revealed that the overwhelming majority of infringements were made by non-ESSA members, but that shouldn’t be the cause of any complacency.


Think about your own personnel, working at height, at an exhibition or event tomorrow. Would their normal practice pass an unannounced HSE inspection? If there is any doubt in your mind whatsoever, and indeed even if there isn’t, it’s worth refreshing your memory of the HSE’s essential guidance on the subject here - www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg401.pdf. If you have the time and inclination, the full 2006 Work At Height Regulations (WAHR 2006), are available here - www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/735/contents/made.


For event suppliers and contractors, the regulations stipulate straightforward and common sense practice, but without regularly revisiting them, it’s easy for unsafe practices to creep in over time. Compliance with the regulations shouldn’t compromise your speed or efficiency, and in many cases merely requires the personnel involved to be properly trained and advised on the use of ladders and stepladders.


This isn’t a wake up call – I believe we’re all very aware of what is required, but the sheer number of transgressions at the exhibition mentioned above should serve as an important reminder that, until now, the industry has been permitted an adjustment period. However we believe that the HSE will now lean increasingly towards enforcement and sanctions for transgressions, rather than advice and counselling. The HSE will continue to conduct its inspections, both announced and unannounced, but the ‘bedding in’ period, allowed for the industry to accommodate CDM 2015, is essentially at an end.


In preparation for this shift, the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) is working with its sister associations, the Association of Event Venues (AEV) and the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) on an industry-wide campaign to drive awareness of safety and working at height in particular. We want to continue to build a robust, safety-first, working culture in events, and I sincerely hope that all ESSA members will lend their support and help to spread this message.

Andrew Harrison
Posted by Andrew Harrison
PopularComments
Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Related Stories

Registration opens for EN Race Day 2017!

Event profs will be racing along to Sandown Racecourse on 20 September for the seventh annual EN Race Day.

The Great British Sewing Bee Live set for London launch

Upper Street Events and Love Productions have joined forces to launch The Great British Sewing Bee Live, a new event for consumers with a passion for dressmaking, tailoring, fashion and textiles.

East of England Arena announces discount fare scheme with Virgin Trains.

The East of England Arena and Events Centre has announced a partnership with Virgin Trains to provide discounted rail travel for passengers travelling to visit exhibitions and conferences at the Arena.

Others on EN

National mourning

National mourning

Mark Blair, divisional director of InEvexco, considers the insurance implications of the death of a monarch.
David's Inferno: The comfort zone

David's Inferno: The comfort zone

In the first of his new series of monthly columns, Cvent’s senior marketing director David Chalmers says it’s important to break out of the comfort zone.
Show or tell?

Show or tell?

Roopi Woodall, marketing manager at the QEII Centre, asks if the art of conversation on social media is dead – and how to engage with audiences if that’s the case.

The Showlite Heroes

Most Read Stories

Fit for the 21st century

Fit for the 21st century

Andrew Harrison, ESSA director, says we should always fight to bring talent into the industry and encourage an appetite for success.
I'm a believer

I'm a believer

Sam Cande, group commercial director at Centaur Media, says no secret sales technique can compete with belief in a product.
Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry, director of Easyfairs UK addresses the science behind operations and the profile of our audiences.

Latest News

Registration opens for EN Race Day 2017!

Registration opens for EN Race Day 2017!

Event profs will be racing along to Sandown Racecourse on 20 September for the seventh annual EN Race Day.
The Great British Sewing Bee Live set for London launch

The Great British Sewing Bee Live set for London launch

Upper Street Events and Love Productions have joined forces to launch The Great British Sewing Bee Live, a new event for consumers with a passion for dressmaking, tailoring, fashion and textiles.
East of England Arena announces discount fare scheme with Virgin Trains.

East of England Arena announces discount fare scheme with Virgin Trains.

The East of England Arena and Events Centre has announced a partnership with Virgin Trains to provide discounted rail travel for passengers travelling to visit exhibitions and conferences at the Arena.

Latest Features

Right on the money

Right on the money

After teaming up with Prysm Group to run Accountex 2016, Diversified Communications has taken the reins for this year’s show.
Disruptive influencers

Disruptive influencers

Completely Group never meant to be an exhibition organiser, which is why its events are breaking all the rules.
Quick interview: Olympia's new era

Quick interview: Olympia's new era

In April it was announced that Olympia London had been sold in a colossal £296m deal, EN sits down with the venue’s MD Nigel Nathan to learn more.

Latest Galleries

London Dungeon Lates

London Dungeon Lates

The London Dungeons has launched a unique nighttime experience with the theme of the seven deadly sins. The adults only tour includes seven themed food offerings and a range of themed drinks.
This Morning Live

This Morning Live

Tens of thousands of fans descended on the NEC on 18-21 May for This Morning Live, to see talent from ITVs award-winning daytime programme arrive in style.
Ideal Home Show Scotland

Ideal Home Show Scotland

The Ideal Home Show return to Glasgow for its 70th Anniversary on 26-29 May, introducing the all-new Eat & Drink Festival to Scottish fans.