It may seem a strange thing to say, but in many ways a VLOBLIVE type gig is actually at higher risk of a health and safety risk happening than at a much larger, more complex pro gig. Here’s why…
VLOBLIVE gigs are more risky because they are typically staffed by too few too inexperienced crews. This presents the following risks:
– A lack of knowledge about the potential dangers and risks to themselves and others of large heavy bits of wood and metal being lifted, moved, dangled and cajoled in a hurry. The pro’s are trained in all this and are used to it, but others may not realise how much risk they are taking.
– over-enthusiasm – yes, really. When folk really believe in what they are doing, they tend to push themselves beyond reasonable limits of either skill, strength or endurance for the sake of the cause. Trying to just cram that one extra flightcase into the van. Reaching to just add that one extra cable to the truss, keeping driving for that one extra hour when you should pull over and sleep.
– underestimating the resource requirements. Too few people doing too much work for too many hours is a recipie for disaster. Sometimes we need to scale back or even cancel gigs, if we can’t get the right crew.
So, what can you do about it? Well follow the same basic rules that the pro’s use every day, and you will have a good chance of avoiding disaster. If they are not your employees you may not have a legal responsibility for their safety but you certainly have a moral one!
Here are some basic rules:
1. Assess the risks beforehand – stop and think “What are the possible things that could go wrong and could injure someone?, How likely are they to happen? What extra can be done to avoid those risks. Write these down and circulate to all involved
2. Conduct a short safety briefing at the start of every gig. Point out the potential hazards to everyone – don’t assume they will know to look for them.
3. Make sure everyone has the right Personal Protection Equipment for the situation. Do people have steel-toed boots? gloves? hard hats (if flying equipment), safety harnesses, eye protection, and do they know how to use them?
4. Minimise the number of people involved. For more risky activities, consider limiting the help to those who have experience or knowledge.
5. Record ‘near misses’ and learn from them. If an accident almost happens, then make sure you review what went wrong and change your procedures or what you are trying to do to avoid a repeat of it. Tell everyone working on the gig what happened and how to avoid it for again.
I know it all sounds like common sense, but at 3am, in the rain, after a long day, it’s not so easy to be sensible every time.