Safety in numbers

Safety in Numbers

Phillip Brown.bmp

by Phillip Brown, Head of Risk and Safety, SOLT & UK Theatre

Date Published: 20 January 2020

The unique challenges faced by the theatre industry go far and wide, especially when it comes to health and safety, making sector specific benchmarks invaluable. Without them, venues can’t see how they are performing in comparison to others in the sector. But how can we produce these benchmarks?

This is something which UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT) have been working on over the past few years and regularly discuss at the industry union, member and management organisations’ Theatre Safety Committee (TSC).   The TSC acts as a forum for the dissemination of information on health and safety matters of relevance to the theatre industry.  They actively review health and safety accidents, incidents and near misses of which it becomes aware.

As an industry we have struggled to obtain live data on the health and safety issues affecting theatre. Without this data we cannot fully support and guide industry initiatives to maintain safe and compliant working environments. And we are not the only ones to have noticed this. Richard Beale, Director of Blue Lemon Health and Safety Ltd, has spent the last 18 years auditing venues and speaking with management. During this time, he identified a real need to develop user friendly software which would capture the information our unique industry needs.

Over the past 12 months members of the TSC, led by the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT), SOLT and UK Theatre, have been negotiating a standardised service to produce accident and near miss statistics which will benefit members and the wider industry.  These culmination of these discussions has resulted in the development of a free accident reporting system provided and supported by Blue Lemon - experts in this field with more than a decade of experience developing health and safety management systems specifically tailored for theatre.

The new scheme was launched in October 2019 at UK Theatre’s Off Stage Conference in Birmingham and will help address the problem currently experienced by the sector in interpreting accident statistics and provide advance warning through the indication of near-miss trends.

Members who request access to the new system will be required to apply via the ABTT, SOLT or UK Theatre and they will be given access to their own accident reporting site on the software.  This will allow members to report accidents online and produce statistics showing any trends in their own venue. 

This exciting new development will provide us with evidence-based data, helping us interpret the incident statistics produced by our industry.  With this data we can target and manage specific risks that are affecting our workforce and visitors.

UK Theatre, SOLT and the ABTT will be given access to a reporting function on the software which will include completely anonymised data.  This data will show trends across the platform for venues, without giving any details of the venues or specifics about the incidents.  The statistics will then be issued to the industry to allow venues to benchmark against similar organisations and allow us to work on specific subjects as industry groups.   

This software is hosted in the cloud and available via a mobile app so that users can inspect their work equipment or report accidents whilst on stage or front of house.    

Anyone interested in utilising this system please contact phillip@soltukt.co.uk.

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