With safety an on-going and increasingly primary concern for Live Events in the largely unregulated Live Events industry; Production Houses, Event Managers and Exhibition Organisers and even big-brand end users are taking the problem more seriously. 

We are all aware of the very real hazards involved in mounting an event, even on a small scale and recognise that one slight mistake can lead to injury or loss of life. Over and above that, the damage to the brand associated with an unsafe event has long term reputational ramifications that can be the undoing of the brand itself. 

Some of today’s big brands have instituted a stringent vetting system to ensure that the technical suppliers they use on their events are equally serious about Health and Safety. It may be a daunting prospect for a technical supplier to undergo but Health and Safety Manager, Riaan Botha from Gearhouse, welcomed the chance to have the Group’s safety practices undertake an official independent NOSA audit in 2015.

“We have always been the frontrunner in adopting international standards where there are no local regulations to cover specific technical production practices” he says. “In 2006, the company went through an internal assessment which resulted in a formalisation of the OHS approach and the appointment of a permanent Group Health and Safety Manager to manage the company’s day-to-day safety practices.”

The Group has a Zero Tolerance approach to Health and Safety on Live Events. Company safety policies have been developed which not only relate to the Act, but also to local council bylaws, construction regulations and national building regulations. These policies are implemented on an on-going basis, and daily onsite assessments identify and manage any safety risks or threats.

Gearhouse is fully compliant with all South African Health and Safety and relevant SANS standards and in areas where there are no specific regulations, the group subscribes to the rigorous German TÜV standards, European Norm (EU), British Standards (BS) and Fed-Spec (American Federal Specification).

According to Riaan, daily site reports and photographic compliance documentation has gone a long way towards heightening awareness amongst the general staff body; a positive side effect as part of the long term goal is to ensure that all staff are trained to enforce safety practices amongst co-workers as well as visitors to the work sites and premises. 

This year’s NOSA audit yielded an average of 89.6% across the areas of Document Review, Onsite Auditing and Compliance; a confirmation that the company’s efforts in this regard are really paying off. “It was a lengthy and in-depth audit” says Riaan, “but I am very pleased with what we have achieved. There is still a long way to go but we are definitely on the right path.” 

The Gearhouse team maintains that it is essential that risk assessment and safety compliance become formal elements of technical service. It seems that the end users are starting to feel the same. Could we be looking at a future industry norm in which demonstrable safety standards become one of the main criteria on which technical service suppliers are selected? 

Story Robyn D’Alessandro

Aug 24, 2014

The Gearhouse Group of Companies