How OHSAS 18001 can make your theater or concert event safer
Going to theaters and concert venues is a very popular pastime, whether for a local concert or production all the way up to stadium events that take place in front of crowds of tens of thousands. What these events have in common is that there is an inherent danger and risk when many people congregate in one place, and for many varied reasons. Given this risk, many organizations responsible for staging events in theaters of varying sizes have turned towards OHSAS 18001 to help provide a safer experience for the concertgoer. So, in what way can OHSAS 18001 help practically? This case study of one such organization that adopted OHSAS 18001 can help illustrate.
We want our venue to be safer, but what do we need?
When approached by one small venue recently to help with assessing and improving safety, their attitude was not unusual: “We know we need to do something in terms of health and safety, but we’re not sure what.” The following questions helped to clarify the exact scope of their requirements.
- Are you aware that there is legislation that your organization needs to comply with? The answer was “yes,” but the legislation itself was unknown.
- Are you aware of the risks and hazards that exist in a theater environment to employees, customers, performers, and the local neighborhood? Again, there was a variety of opinion here, but specific risks to anyone but customers had not been considered.
- Do you want an ongoing safety management system that can give people authority and responsibility, and ensure that the venue is safe and compliant with legislation in the future? It was decided that this was the requirement by the venue’s top management.
At this stage, it became clear to the venue owners that the establishment of an OHSAS 18001-certified OH&SMS (Operational Health and Safety Management System) was the answer to their problem. So, what were the main elements of the OHSAS 18001 standard and implementation that could help this venue?
The OHSAS 18001 OH&SMS solution – Benefits to the venue
In the previous article: Using a Gap Analysis to prepare for OHSAS 18001 implementation we looked at the value of a gap analysis in establishing your OH&SMS, and this again proved valuable to this venue. In another previous article: 5 tips for overcoming the biggest challenges in the OHSAS 18001 implementation, we considered the challenges, and these were evident with this venue, too, but the specific benefits attached to OHSAS 18001 were tangible. So, how did the OHSAS 18001 standard help the venue to be safer? Let us consider:
- Authority and responsibility. Allocating responsibility and authority within the organization meant that for the first time, there was a formal health and safety department, with a structure. This milestone laid the foundation for a functioning OH&SMS where inputs and outputs could be defined and improvement sought.
- Compliance with legislation: Appointing a representative to be responsible for legislation also was a tangible benefit. Without this, your organization cannot trade legally and you may find in the case of an accident that your insurers will not pay; therefore, this is a critical element.
- Participation & consultation, competence, and awareness: While these are split into two clauses in the standard, these related elements can bring great benefit to an organization’s culture of health and safety. Ensuring that your employees are consulted, informed, and given knowledge of information regarding the OH&SMS ensures that health and safety becomes and remains at the heart of the organization’s objectives.
- Identification of hazard and risk: This is probably the most important part of any OH&SMS, and it proved no different for this concert venue. Employee safety, performer safety, attendee safety, fire risk, noise level risk, noise pollution risk to neighbors, concert exit routes, adaptation for the blind and disabled, emergency evacuation procedures – these and more were assessed formally, recorded on the OH&SMS, and actions taken where necessary. This not only gave a greater basis for improved health and safety performance, but gave all stakeholders food for thought in terms of general improvement of performance within the OH&SMS itself. You can learn more from the article Hazard vs. risks – what is the difference according to ISO/DIS 45001?
- Emergency preparedness and response: Here is another critical element where unpredictability exists – for example, where members of the public congregate, such as at the venue in question. The organization decided it could gain excellent knowledge from peer review, research, and comparing processes with organizations in similar public hosting venues to allow a policy to be built that was concise and effective, and via signage and electronic communication in the venue, became easy to communicate to audiences. Improvement of this element jointly allowed the venue’s top management to be satisfied that industry standard behavior was being replicated, and that legal requirements were also satisfied.
Using OHSAS 18001 to safeguard your business
It had quickly become apparent to the top management of this venue that while OHSAS 18001 was the logical choice for them to try and ensure the safety of their customers and stakeholders, it was also an effective tool to safeguard the future of their business. It is therefore easy to see why the OHSAS 18001 standard is seen as a business tool, as opposed to being purely about a health and safety management system. Use the OHSAS 18001 standard appropriately in your organization, whether a concert theater or any other business, and you can improve your prospects of a brighter and safer future.
If you own or are employed in a theater or concert venue, why not use this free Gap Analysis Tool to measure the gap between your health & safety practices and the standard?