Violence At Work?

emergency vehicles
A policy worth fighting for? Most organisations have a 'violence at work' policy in place. The narrative will be clear. The employer will not accept nor condone any form of assault or intimidation or behaviour of that ilk. Those found guilty of such behaviour will be dealt with severely and immediately. Violence at work can mean physical, verbal and mental abuse or assault including bullying. It can also include a perceived threat.

Understanding your responsibility.

What is rarely included in these policies is how an event manager is required to deal with violence 'at work'. Yet most event managers during their careers will, unfortunately, witness some activity by an event visitor (employee, invited guest, general public) that would be deemed as violence at work. And some will be at the receiving end themselves.

Risk management. Why bother?

You don’t buy car insurance because you think you are going to crash your car ! a) You buy it because someone else may crash into you. (b) Or your car may be damaged whilst it is parked. (c) Or it may be stolen by someone who has little respect for your property. (d) And because it's the law.

What has this to do with event employees?

You don’t manage risk because you think you or your employees are going to be the person to cause an incident.

(a) You do it because someone else may `crash' into your event. A supplier, a client or a visitor. You may share liability if something happens at your event, even if the injured party is not a direct employee.

Manual handling. A pain in the ***!

Manual handling accidents account for more than 1/3 of all reported at-work accidents, of which 2/3 involve an over-three day injury. The most common injury is to the back and/or spine. The regulations, brought into effect in January 1993 and amended in 2002 are set to give guidance to employers and employees on how best to reduce musculoskeletal incidents at work. If you work in events you should know what's what.

What does it mean?

As with all Health & Safety legislation, this regulation should not be viewed in isolation. There is a general requirement to assess all risks at work. However, manual handling does cause significant numbers of injuries and as such measures should be put in place to help avoid these injuries. It is important to note that any action to reduce manual handling should be ‘reasonably practicable’.

In terms of action points, these are the guidelines from the HSE.

Out of sight. Out of mind!

Ignoring the rules
In my previous business we used to organise as many as 15 events a week. As you'd expect, I trusted my employees to undertake their event management role in a professional and legal manner. What I didn't know, and what isn’t known by any employer, is whilst colleagues are out of sight are they taking risks. There is always time pressure to get the event set-up (or de-rigged). There is sometimes an external persuasive third party who can affect pre-agreed plans.

And by third party I mean client. And of course, client can mean a more senior colleague. It is unlikely that any other third party would have the `power’ to alter pre-agreed plans – unless of course they were the `law’.

So how do you ensure that just because your colleagues are out of sight, that they don’t go out of their mind and take risky shortcuts to save themselves time or to appease the client.

Here are 5 points to ponder.

Fire walkers and tree climbers

Man on fire
Why is it that one man is allowed to walk through fire and another is not allowed to climb a tree? Are there some people that have special authority to do whatever they like whilst others are restricted? Or do they sign indemnity forms meaning they can do anything they want as long as they accept it is their fault if it goes wrong? Or perhaps they have found the loopholes in our health & safety laws?

I watched a brilliant science documentary on the TV a while ago. The reporter wanted to show what it was like in the middle of a fire. So he put on a firesuit – it looked like a 1960’s moon suit – and walked, with his camera, through a tunnel of fire.

How to shoot someone out of a cannon?

Stop now hand signal.
So you don’t actually want to shoot someone out of a cannon but if you plan things properly you could. It’s the planning part that the authorities will be looking for if it goes wrong. Not whether the concept was appropriate.

The law wants responsible people in your business to assess reasonably foreseeable risks from your activities and to put in place control measures that will reduce the risks - as far as is reasonably practicable.

So if you simply persuaded a colleague to slip into a cannon and you lit the fuse without considering the foreseeable risks then it is likely that (a) the individual shot from the cannon would be hurt and (b) you and/or your business would be prosecuted. Understandably so.

Every picture tells a story!

Risk ident
Or does it? Communication is a cornerstone of business, society, life in general. It is ridiculously easy to miscommunicate a message... or to promote a message in a way that will only benefit particular groups or individuals.

Amongst the many “hurt at work?” ads on the TV, there is one that grates. A workman installs an alarm system, and states that he was “given the wrong type of ladder” to do his job. The picture shows a wooden ladder leaning against the wall with said workman standing at the top, and about to use an electric drill. The next image is ladder and drill and workman in a crumpled heap on the floor. Finally, recovered from his ordeal, the workman is clutching a cheque in payment for his injuries received. Job done.

What's the worst that can happen?

Mad man
We are often asked what the worst case scenario is when planning events. Many people see event problems as being logistical or planning. Badges missing, awful food, a/v breaks down. Problematical, yes. But not devastating. Serious injury or death. That is devastating.

There are three companies from Gloucestershire due to go to court because a man died from electrocution whilst working on a marquee. The inquest jury concluded that he died “as a direct result of a succession of failures”. The businesses involved must now answer for their actions, or to be more accurate, for their 'inaction'.

Event Training

We call it the Knowledge Audit. Critical must-know information when planning and managing events. A training course. An assessment tool. A knowledge audit. If you're not sure what you don't know then this will probably be the best training investment you have ever made. Priced from £25.  Find out more »

Get in touch

Feel free to give us a no-obligation call if you need to find out a little more information or need some free advice. We are here to help. You can contact us via email or phone. Or twitter or via linkedin.