“The greatest ideas are the simplest.”
I like simple! Simple makes things easier and my life less complicated. I’m also a fan of the adjectives associated with simple: straightforward, easy, uncomplicated, effortless, painless, manageable, plain. Funnily enough all the words we use about health & safety! No? I like keeping things simple and protecting people from health & safety hazards isn’t difficult, it’s just simple right? I have an open fire in my living room and love the smell and crackle of the wood burning, but do I leave the flames or embers unguarded? No because I like my house and keeping my family safe from fire. Straightforward and simple! In the same way friends with children don’t give them access to knives, allow them to touch household cleaning products or play with the traffic because they know the obvious dangers. Again it’s simple!
So why do people forget the basics, get confused or frazzled when it comes to implementing health & safety at work? Is it the reams of legislation, fear of prosecution, perceived ridiculous workplace rules, always someone else’s responsibility, time consuming paperwork or the over enthusiastic safety advisor making everyone’s life difficult? Within the UK we are obviously not doing simple!
The HSE estimate that the UK cost of poor health & safety management is over £14 billion. Our industry isn’t high risk although we are involved in some risky work activities. For example, we suffer from significant levels of falls from height, manual handling injuries and slips & trips. They all contribute to the monetary or physical costs of workplace accidents. In general terms, we do good health & safety in theatre but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve or remove some of the complacency or bad practice we might hear or see around health & safety.
So I’m advocating we bring simple back! Health & safety should be easy to understand and not difficult to do!
SAFERtheatre is a new campaign to assist the theatre industry in promoting, improving and maintaining health & safety standards.
Overall the campaign will promote new ideas and better practice across a range of subjects including security, risk and technical management. It’s not complicated, difficult or expensive to get involved and I suspect that the vast majority of the industry is already working hard to make theatre safer and healthier. It encourages basic health & safety core principles that organisations should implement and then build upon.
Do you have a policy that pledges to prevent injury, reduce ill health and comply with legal requirements? Do you meet with your staff on a regular basis to talk health & safety? Do you know what potential dangers your staff and visitors face when they come to your venue? Do you practice what to do when things go wrong? Are people aware when and what to report if they see something not quite right? Do you share your best practice throughout the organisation to prevent future problems? All these things are simple and practical health & safety management solutions everyone can achieve.
UK Theatre and SOLT will champion the campaign, share best practice ideas, assist with problems and even sometimes have some fun! I’m encouraging the whole industry to help promote all things health & safety and for theatre to be the best it can be when it comes to managing risks.
If simple can be used to make insurance more interesting to sell what’s stopping us from using the same approach to sell the positives of health and safety?
If you are a UK Theatre member, find out more about how you can benefit from SAFERtheatre.