NEW PAGE – UNDER CONSTRUCTION
The aim of this page is to list some of the Health and Safety regulations that exist to protect everyone working in live events. This is initially focussed on the UK, but will cover more territories in time.
UK Legislation that applies to theatre
HASAWA – Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 – overall legislation that contains the following regulations:
CDM – Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015
CONAW – Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
COSHH – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002
EAW – Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
LOLER – Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998
PUWER – Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
RIDDOR – Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, 2013
WAH – Work at Height Regulations 2005
Safe System of Work
Every activity required to put on a show of any kind should have a series of procedures which are documented, regularly revised and reviewed, and followed by all involved in the activity. These documents should be available to anyone involved in the activity to review BEFORE the activity takes place.
What is a Risk Assessment?
A Risk Assessment is a formal record of hazards in the workplace, identifying the risks they pose, defining the seriousness and likelihood of the risks, and explaining the control methods to reduce the risks to acceptable levels.
How do I fill out a Risk Assessment?
The Health & Safety Executive (UK) has a set of sample risk assessments for various businesses. [HSE Website]
Can I download a sample risk assessment for a theatre?
We’re working on a series of sample risk assessments, and these will be available to download in the coming months.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 have very clear guidance on using equipment to access high levels.
See the Health & Safety Executive (UK) guidance.
PAT Testing (Electricity at Work Act, 1989)
All portable electrical equipment must be periodically tested to ensure it is safe to use, and the results should be recorded for future reference.
A large percentage of faults can be easily found by carrying out a visual check.
- Unplug the item before carrying out any check
- Is the flex correctly secured in the plug?
- Is the cable free from any breaks, cracks, temporary repairs or other damage? (any electrical tape on the cable should be removed, and if a problem is found, the equipment should be taken out of service).
- Can any of the inner cores of the cable (usually coloured brown, blue and green/yellow) be seen through the outer protective cable sheath?
- Is the case fully intact and unbroken?
- Are there any marks on the equipment or plug which may indicate overheating?
- Does the equipment work as intended?
If any of the above checks fail, the equipment must be taken out of service and repaired by a competent person.
MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON
The need for secondary safety supports is covered under the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
From the HSE website:
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 require employers to take steps to ensure that people can’t be hurt by falling objects. This involves assessing the risks and taking action to control them. If the theatre’s risk assessment suggests this is best managed with steel wire rather than chain then they have a duty to implement that control. As an employee, you have legal duties to co-operate with your employer to ensure they can comply with their duties.
Professional bodies such as the ABTT in the UK, and standard professional practice, require safety wires to be used on all suspended equipment. In the UK, safety chains were formerly used, but these should not now be used as the chain cannot be certified to carry a particular load. Safety wires (made for the purpose) are properly rated, and stamped with the rating. A range of wires are available, from stage equipment suppliers, rated to carry loads from 5kg (for accessories such as barndoors) to 100kg (for larger lanterns and moving lights).
Audience Safety Concerns
Strobe Lights / Flashing Lights
Certain combinations of flashing lights can trigger seizures for anyone with photo-sensitive epilepsy. Warning signs should always be used when lighting effects are being used that could trigger a seizure. Be as specific as possible so that the audience knows what to expect. Don’t forget that actors, crew-members, orchestra members can also be triggered. Here are some examples:
- Fast Strobing Lights are used in this performance
- Camera Flash lighting effects are used in this performance
- Multiple Strobes and Flashing Lights are used in this performance
- An explosion lighting effect is used in this performance
Ensure the signs can be seen by everyone entering the venue.
All items used on stage should be adequately fire-resistant. This includes scenic drapes and costumes. Where fire risks are increased (e.g. near pyrotechnic devices, hot lighting equipment) then extra precautions should be taken.
See also Asbestos in the Theatre
All systems connected with safety must be regularly maintained and tested. The frequency of testing will be set by local regulations.
Visual checks should be carried out every time an item (e.g. a ladder) is used. If there are signs of damage, it should be referred to the responsible person to be tested and if necessary replaced. No equipment that raises concern during a visual check should be used if a different item is available.
Safety Related Links
|Podcast: Production Meetings Essential listening|
Health & Safety
|BAPAM British Association for Performing Arts Medicine [UK]|
|ESTA Fog / Smoke [USA]|
|NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards [USA]|
|Online Sign Free Printable Safety Sign Maker|
|Rosco: Flame Retarding Scenery|
|RU Safe? information and guidance about safety in small venues [UK]|
|The Purple Book - The Purple Guide to Health, Safety and Welfare at Music and Other Events [UK]|
|The Yellow Book - ABTT Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment Safety standards and guidelines for venues. [UK]|
|Theatre Safety Blog|
|Allan Chapman & James Insurance Public Liability Insurance etc. [UK]|
|Guide on Running Events Safely UK Health & Safety Exectuive [UK]|
|La Playa UK Public Liability Insurance etc. [UK / USA]|
|Wrightsure Insurance Public Liability Insurance [UK]|
|Actor Cigarette Safe Smoking Prop|
Unions / Associations
|AAPTLE Alliance of Associations & Professionals in Theatre and Live Events [UK]|
|ABTT (Association of British Theatre Technicians) Training, Advice, Membership [London, UK]|
|IATSE International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees [USA]|
|LPA Live Performance Australia|
|PLASA UK Professional Lighting & Sound Association [UK]|