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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

I stubbed my toe, who can I sue? Risk management in entertainment

Maralyn Kastel - Sunday, July 25, 2010

In this day of “who can I sue, I stubbed my toe” I was wondering how many entertainment venues supply clients with risk assessment documentation to fill out before they can hire a venue?   If you manage a venue, eg a sports centre, theatre, community hall etc,  do you use generic forms or do you develop them with the client hiring the venue?  A risk assessment for a staging a play may not be the same as an 18th birthday party! and definitely different from the risks involved in staging a sporting event or concert.

Entertainment venues need to conduct risk assessments just like any other business.  You also need to have an emergency management plan that is tested regularly.

What do you need to cover?
Firstly there are the risk associated with the type of event being held and then such areas as fire safety, equipment, electrical safety, crowd control and emergency procedures.

Do you check that the client has an approved first aid kit or a workplace health and safety policy?  Do you identify the person in charge of workplace health and safety?

This does not mean that you as the controller of the venue can get away with doing nothing. You must comply with occupational health and safety legislation to ensure the safety of clients at the venue and to meet your duty of care. You have the same duty of care to your workers and the client that hires the venue.  How pro-active are you in conducting regular risk assessments? I suspect that many (particularly smaller venues) may well be lacking.  

Think about this - we have been doing risk assessment all our lives.
When you cross the road, you do a risk assessment.  When you drive your car, you make judgement calls all the time – is it safe to pass, can I enter the roundabout safely – a venue risk assessment is simply another type or risk assessment.

If you are a venue manager, you need to make sure that your client's event runs smoothly and with a minimum of risk to your workers at the venue and to the people attending the client’s event.

Using a risk assessment developed with the client specifically for the type of event becomes an important part of the risk management process to make sure that there are effective and appropriate risk controls for all persons using the venue.

Eliminating all risks in entertainment venues is extremely difficult – imagine a stage that is level with the audience to eliminate the risk of the cast falling.  Consider performers not being about to wear stage make-up because it can cause skin rashes.  Then there’s the bright lights shining in performers’ eyes – sorry can’t have that – it might cause headaches or fits. Eliminating all the risks might mean closing all entertainment venues, but we don’t want to stop events, we simply want to make them safe.

Venue management's role in safety
Many hundreds of people have died in venue fires and accidents because either an emergency plan was not in place or it was ignored by the client. Make sure you have an emergency evacuation plan and that is is discussed with the client. .Remember also that the client has the same duty of care to its customers as the you have to your client.

What if a client’s customer has an accident? Who is to be notified? If the accident is due to a fault by the venue, does the client know who to notify? What if the accident is the fault of the client, who do they notify besides their insurance company?

Does the client need to tell you that an incident has happened that is not the fault of the venue?  Covering all the bases, develop a form that can be used by you and the client.  The client should also have their own documentation.

Remember that documentation can save all sorts of wrangling if a legal stoush takes place. You and the client should report any accidents or incidents to the appropriate insurer.  If a serious incident or accident, this must be reported to the relevant state or territory authority immediately.

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