Health & Safety Advice
We live in a world of ever increasing claim awareness and
have developed quite a cynical blame culture in the UK. However,
just because someone hurts themselves (or even claims they have),
does not necessarily mean that liability will attach and, even if it
does, the injured party bears no responsibility themselves.
Therefore, in order to protect ourselves we simply need to make sure
that we have taken all reasonable steps to prevent accidents
occurring due to negligence.
Negligence is the key word. The injured party would need to show to a court that the accident was foreseeable and preventable and that the band or act failed in their duty to protect the public. Such failure only extends to what is reasonable so, if you ensure that you follow simple procedures you should be fine and any case against you would be defendable.
Planning safe entry and exit from a building and setting up equipment in a way so as to minimise the risk of incident is like playing a game of chess; you have to constantly think ahead, you need to think what might happen and what other people might say happened or even what people might make happen.
Also, don’t forget that in our industry we are dealing with people who have been drinking and might not take their own safety as seriously as they would if they were sober. They also have a reduced sense of danger when influenced by drink.
Location of Set Up
Check your location does not interfere with fire exit routes. Ensure there are electrical sockets adjacent to your allocated space. If cables need to be run from power points to the rig, look for the safest route.
Do not use people who are not part of the crew to assist in any way. Avoid loading and unloading if the venue is still fully occupied. Ensure that when setting up and dismantling, care is taken not to walk through crowds or push past people who may fall, particularly after events where alcohol has been consumed. Wherever possible, ensure that equipment is taken through a separate exit door away from the public.
If setting up on a stage make sure the way on and off the stage is clear because no matter how many times you ask people not to come onto the stage, they will. Don't set up too close to the front of the stage else it presents a handy aid for people to haul themselves up.
When setting up at floor level block one end off if possible, utilising this closed end for trailing cables. Try to intercept people from entering your working area. Although you may take every precaution to prevent people coming onto the perfromance area, a court might decide that it is foreseeable that someone could, and thus is the responsibility of the act. Keep the working area clear of boxes, transit cases, loose cables etc at all times for your own safety too!
Never leave your equipment unattended at a venue. If anyone, especially a curious child, was to injure themselves on the equipment, the onus would be on the act.
If you have a road crew helping you to set-up, still check for potential risks yourself regardless of how much you might trust them to work conscientiously and safely.
Positioning the legs is difficult to keep them out of the way where public might walk. If this is unavoidable then attempts should be made to make the stand legs as visible as possible by using high visibility tape or even dressing them with LED starcloths or some kind of architectural lighting to draw attention to them.
should be opened to a sufficient width to make them stable and the
actual stand not taken too high so that it becomes top heavy. It is
an idea to test the stability of a loaded stand under a controlled
environment by tilting it to approximately 25 degrees to see if it
rights itself again when let go.
Lights and other items mounted on gantries, trussing or T Bars should always be attached using the correct sized clamps and fitted to the effect using nylon locking nuts. A suitably tested safety chain or cable should also be attached to a dedicated safety ring or a suitable point on the actual light (not on the bracket). If the overhead weight of a gantry or T Bar is uneven always make sure it is heavier towards the rear of the show away from the audience so if the stand does go over it will not fall onto the public and the chances are there will be a wall behind you to break the fall.
Your lights should be above head height so a tall person cannot walk into them. Also floor lighting should be placed in a safe place and the cables stuck down. If using strobe lights check that no one in the room is epileptic. Even if you get a jokey response, don't use them!
Bubble machines create a soapy mess on hard floors and creates a slip hazard. Wherever possible, use on a carpeted area. If a client insists on it being used on the dance floor, make them aware of the risks beforehand. There is 'Dry Bubble Fluid' available from both ACME & Rosco.
Snow & foam machines can also create an ice rink effect on a dance floor. Use sparingly and when the dance floor is busy, this prevents the fluid accumulating on the floor.
Acts need to be aware that the PLI cover provided by AMPband as one of the benefits of membership does not cover the use of pyrotechnics, explosives or any special effect involving fire or explosion.
Check sound levels and maintain them during performance. Be careful when playing in a venue protected by a decibel meter. Do not be tempted to circumvent it; you will be put in a difficult position if someone subsequently claims deafness from your music.
Cables are one of the biggest causes of accidents concerning live bands. It is popular to use black cables so that they are inconspicuous, however, this makes them hard to see. Keep cable runs as short as possible. Make sure all cables are stuck down with a good tape, preferably along their length rather than across it or use a rubber cable covers.
Consider buying anti-kink cables so that they lay as close to the floor as possible without looping up. To this end it is also advisable to avoid storing cables in a cold place. It is best to use cables that are the right length for the job rather than have lots of cable coiled up untidily causing extra trip hazards.
Guitar and microphone cables which cannot be secured for operational reasons should still be routed where possible in such a way that they minimise risk of tripping. Consider the use of radio microphones and transmitters to reduce the risk further.
Always use a trip device such as an RCD breaker and ensure you never draw more than the amount of current allowed from mains outlets. If an extension lead is needed it should be fully unwound and the excess cable safely stowed away.
All electrics must comply with safety standards [PAT Test]. Make sure you follow a strict program of interim checking yourself between scheduled tests. Cables must be secured in a safe manner and try to keep them out of sight.
If you think an incident could be prevented by making an announcement then do so clearly and politely pointing out that it is for their safety. Check evacuation procedures and relay information if required.
Keep all liquids away from equipment, including client beverages on top of speakers. All sharp edges should be filed down smooth or covered with a soft protective covering.
These may all seem obvious but it's worth having a closer look at your set up next time you are out.
Accidents between band members can happen, especially during lively sets where there is a lot of action on the stage. Be aware of the possibility as a crack on the head with a guitar neck is not pleasant!
The PLI provided by AMPband as a benefit of membership does not cover 'player to player' or 'player to roadcrew' incidents.
You should also prevent members of the public from accessing the performance area.
Even with all the care in the world accidents can still happen. If you are in the unfortunate situation where someone is injured at your gig then, after they have been dealt with, obtain the names & contact details of any witnesses, take photographs and make notes. These will help your insurers determine if a claim is justified or not.
A massive thanks goes to four AMP members, Andy Lovell, Steve St John, Ian Holmes and Jim Duncan, for their input on this subject and their words of wisdom.
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