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Principles of Safety

Why be so concerned about safety issues − aren't they just something that gets in the way of what we really want to be doing? The answer is that we all have a responsibility, both legal and moral, to be sure that our activities do not put ourselves or others in danger − that is, at unacceptable risk of harm. This is of particular importance where people gather at an event, as they will have a reasonable expectation that proper consideration has been given to their well-being, and any failing in safety could affect many lives. Furthermore, we also have a responsibility to protect the property of others from damage.

So, safety issues could be defined, in the context of PA systems, as the precautions that need to be taken in order to reduce, to acceptably low levels, the likelihood of occurrences that may result in harm to the performers, the audience or anyone else in the vicinity, or which may result in damage to property.

We will only consider here protection against dangerous occurrences that might arise from the presence or operation of PA systems, lighting and related equipment. (Other aspects of safety at an event, e.g. the provision of suitable fire exits and competent stewards, are typically the responsibility of others, such as the owner of the venue or the event organisers.) The information below is given in the form of quick check-lists which cover the most likely causes of dangerous incidents, though these lists are by no means exhaustive. As a minimum, be certain to comply with the Health and Safety Regulations and Guidance applicable in your country and region.

An essential element in the maintenance of a safe environment − both for staff and the general public − is the carrying out of risk assessments. A risk assessment is a formal procedure in which hazards are identified and, for each hazard, the likelihood and severity of harm is evaluated. The results are recorded, along with details of any measures taken to reduce the level of risk associated with each hazard. These assessments must be repeated as necessary in the event of changed circumstances, and in any case must be regularly reviewed. No person should undertake any hazardous activity without the risks having been assessed, taking into account the competence of the person(s) concerned, and having taken appropriate action to reduce risks as necessary. As an example, a risk assessment for a particular activity might involve considering the following questions:

The HSE publishes useful information concerning safety at events in the UK. This page provides a useful starting point, while this page includes free downloadable PDF leaflets and other reference material. The "Purple Guide" event safety handbook, previously produced by the HSE, is now published by the Events Industry Forum (EIF) and is available by subscription here. (All are external links that open in a new window.)

Physical Safety

Electrical Safety (also see Fire Safety)

Fire Safety

Acoustic Safety

This safety information is provided for general guidance only, as specific safety requirements may exist in certain situations. No responsibility is accepted in the event of this information proving incomplete or inadequate in any respect. All safety advice and information provided must be interpreted in the context of the legislation and official guidance applicable to the country, district and local circumstances concerned. Please note that this disclaimer is in addition to the
disclaimer on the main contents page.

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This page last updated 07-Jun-2019.