OK. So love may be taking a bit far, but I do think H&S is great.
Hopefully this article will explain why, and encourage you to ensure H&S is given it’s due attention on your next event.

Why is everyone so down on health and safety?
Because more often than not Health and Safety is cited as a reason for not being able to do something. We’ve all heard people bemoaning the fact that “we couldn’t [insert event activity] because of health and safety”.

It’s as though Health and Safety was a secretive manager somewhere who’s job it was to say no to things. You can’t speak to them directly or ask why – they simply pronounce what is not allowed and that’s that. If you want to do something new and exciting you might as well forget it.

The reality of course is that Health and Safety is actually a legal process, and one that everyone involved in the commissioning and delivery of events (yes – that means you – even if you hire a freelance event manager like me) is legally responsible for.

If H&S has a reputation for saying “no” on your events then perhaps it’s time to look at the people actually managing them…

Health and Safety should enable you to say “yes” more often than “no”, allowing you to stand out from the crowd and deliver something exceptional, safely.

Let me explain…

1. H&S encourages creativity

Health and Safety boils down to understanding your event, the hazards involved and the controls necessary to let you run the event how you want. If you want to drive an armoured vehicle into a listed building with a false floor then great – it is not automatically impossible due to health and safety. Want to build an 24h immersive summer experience in London? Why not!

You simply need to understand the risks and put the necessary controls in place. When you do, “Health and Safety” won’t have a problem and your event should go off safely.

The controls may need some creative thinking, and perhaps your planned activity will have to be tweaked and delivered a certain way, but with thought and ingenuity you can usually make things work. What’s more, if you carry out your H&S responsibilities thoroughly you will arrive at your event with a robust schedule of work explaining how things are going to happen and why, and if things don’t go according to plan, what you are going to do about them. Unfortunately many people dismiss the ideas that make events really shine before fully exploring how to make them a reality.

2. H&S weeds out issues before they happen

Without wanting to come across too process driven, another reason we should all love health and safety is that managing H&S properly enables us to plan effectively. By completing detailed Risk Assessments and Method Statements (collectively known as RAMS) we develop a detailed knowledge of how each individual event is going to work, from the positioning of electrical sockets during the build to the movement of our delegates when we open our doors.

Without going through the process of drawing up a method statement it’s almost impossible to determine exactly what the hazards of an event are going to be and controlling them becomes impossible.

When you’re running an event with multiple contractors this becomes even more crucial as until you see their RAMS you might not realise that part of their methodology affects someone else’s.

When full H&S paperwork is in place it’s far more likely that issues will be picked up before you arrive on-site and your event as a whole will go smoothly.

3. H&S is the law

OK, I agree, you cant really love something that you are legally compelled to do, but the legal side of H&S is the very large elephant in the room.

As organisers of events we have a legal duty of care to everyone that will work at or visit our show. In addition to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the event industry now also has to conform to Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM), previously applicable only to the construction industry. As a result the legal responsibility for Health and Safety will, in the long-term, shift the balance of risk ownership in a legal context onto the organiser. This is worth repeating. Even if you are an organiser and employ someone to deliver your event for you, you have legal responsibilities that you need to fulfil. These responsibilities are largely related to allocating appropriate resource to manage the delivery of your event, and if overlooked there are stiff legal penalties in place.

For small events CDM won’t necessarily have a big impact, but for larger events and exhibitions CDM requires everyone in events to look again at their working practices. It’s the law!

That’s it. Three reasons to love (or at least get a little chummy) with Health and Safety. Hopefully the next time Health and Safety comes up you can be encouraged to see it as a creative challenge and an event enabler, rather than a mysterious kill-joy.

If you need support on Health and Safety for your next project, why not get in touch.