Wednesday, 18 April 2012

What lies behind the HSE’s decision to get involved with enforcement of event construction?

IOSH Sports Grounds and Events Group - Safety and Health Expo 2012 16 May

As a preface to the IOSH speaker session which will provide ‘An update on the HSE’s new initiative to enforce construction safety at events’ the speaker, Simon Garrett, looks at the background to this.

The HSE is responsible for the enforcement of health and safety law in the UK.  For events this is usually delegated to the local authorities who have laregly the same powers of enforcement as the HSE.  The London Olympics were the catalyst for a review by the HSE into event construction.  The HSE have decided that they will take on enforcement with regards to construction at events.  The HSE report, ‘Identification of safety good practice in the event construction and deconstruction of temporary and demountable structures’ was based on a review of six accidents and six site visits.  These were all related to entertainment, festival or sporting type activities and there is a concern among event safety professionals that this was a very narrow focus on which to base some of the generalisations stated as fact in the report.



CDM 2007 applies to all construction projects and essentially is about the management of those projects in a safe manner and the design of structures so that they are safe to use and maintain.  The HSE’s stated position is that although legally this legislation does technically apply to events, they will ‘not enforce CDM provisions at events’.  This was always a bit of grey area but we now have a definitive position.  The HSE’s view is that duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations the Working at Height Regulations and other construction activity related regulations are perfectly sufficient for the enforcement of event construction. 



The HSE’s focus will be on construction by which they mean ‘any structure being constructed’.  It may reasonably be assumed that they intend to focus on the larger more complex structures though in theory it applies to all structures from shell scheme up to complex structures.  The HSE have been somewhat opaque in regards to the extent that this covers rigging though it is reasonable to assume that there will at least be overlap.



Where does this leave local authorities?  This is difficult to gauge because it will depend on individual authorities.  The HSE has limited resources and some industry commentators believe that it may not have fully appreciated the extent of activities covered by their new remit.  Notwithstanding there is a clear HSE agenda here and they would not be doing it if they did not feel that there was a problem to be addressed.  One thing is clear, the events industry is going to have to ensure that it has its house in order with regards to event construction if it is going to be put under renewed scrutiny by the HSE.



Simon Garrett is the MD of X-Venture Global Risk Solutions and a Chartered Practitioner

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