• The Events Industry Forum, Association House, 18c Moor Street, Chepstow, NP16 5DB

Article Index

Protecting Workers and Volunteers

Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest possible level by taking preventative measures.  Employers should work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace so that everybody's health and safety is protected.   In the context of COVID-19, this means protecting the health and safety of your workers and attendees by taking steps to minimise the risks.  The following key measures should be considered:

  • Decide who needs to be on the event site.Working from home remains the best way to keep the virus under control, so wherever possible workers should be encouraged to work from home unless they need to be on site.
  • Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (keeping people socially distances wherever possible).
  • It is also important to monitor the wellbeing of people who are working from home and help them to stay connected with the rest of the workforce, especially if the majority of their colleagues are on-site.
  • Consider the maximum number of people who can safely be accommodated on site operating within COVID-safe rules.
  • Review the layouts where people work in one place to enable them to maintain social distancing, wherever possible.
  • Assign workstations to an individual as much as possible.If a workstation needs to be shared, it should be shared by the smallest possible number of people.
  • Touch points should be disinfected between users.
  • In situations where gloves are needed for safety reasons (e.g.for handling certain materials) workers need to be reminded of the risks of them carrying pathogens and should be advised not to touch other parts of their body while wearing them.
  • Where possible, use systems/equipment that does not involve touch – such as contactless payments.
  • Microphones, headphones, tools and personal equipment should not be used by different people without being disinfected between each use or quarantined for sufficient time.
  • Where box offices, customer service kiosks or similar constructions are needed on site, staff working in them should be protected by screens.
  • Ensure that those coming onto site are fit to work and are not suffering from any symptoms of COVID-19 or otherwise feeling unwell.
  • Encourage increased frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.All those working on site should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly (and particularly before and after eating, drinking or using the toilets) with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Sufficient hand washing and sanitiser facilities should be easily accessible around the site throughout the event, from build-up to break down.The number required will depend on the event.
  • Disposable towels or electric dryers should be used – never use cloth hand towels.
  • Sanitisers should be antiviral with a high alcohol content.
  • Workers should be advised of the risk of severe burns if alcohol sanitisers are still present on the skin near naked flames or sources of static electricity.
  • Use floor tape or paint to help people maintain social distancing.
  • Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, organisers or contractors should consider whether that activity needs to continue and, if so, take steps to reduce the risk of transmission between those involved.
  • If people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, or if workstations cannot be socially distanced, then organisers need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead.No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.
  • Further mitigating actions could include:
    • Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.
    • Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.
    • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face).
    • Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others).
  • As far as possible, where workers are split into teams or shift groups, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.
  • Identifying areas where people have to directly pass things to each other and finding ways to remove direct contact such as by using drop-off points or transfer zones.
  • Creating zones to separate groups.For example, those who work front of house (such as sound operators) from other production team members and performers.
  • Ensuring that where things have to be passed to others, they are appropriately sanitised.
  • Where an individual is operating on a peripatetic basis, such as a freelance musician or choreographer, and operating across multiple groups or individuals they should maintain distancing with each group.
    • Avoid situations where the social distancing requirement is broken, for example a choreographer demonstrating partnering work in dancing.
    • Make efforts to reduce the number of groups interacted with, and locations worked in, to minimize the number of contacts made.
    • Consider a regular private testing programme with an accredited testing system.
  • Assist the Test and Trace service by keeping a temporary record of staff shift patterns for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data, if needed.   This could help contain clusters or outbreaks.

(NOTE:  The above list is not finite, and each business should consider if there are other mitigating factors which apply to their circumstances) 

Risk assessments should carefully consider worker safety, especially of those working closely with members of the audience.

Meetings

Wherever possible, remote working tools should be used to avoid in person meetings.   Meetings should only take place where absolutely necessary, in which case:

  • Meetings should be held outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms, whenever possible.
  • Participants should maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable).
  • Touch points should be avoided.For example, avoiding sharing pens and other objects.
  • Hand sanitiser should be provided in meeting rooms.
  • In areas where regular meetings take place, floor signage should be used to help people maintain social distancing.

Common Areas

To avoid transmission of the virus in areas that are shared by the workforce:

  • Stagger break times to reduce pressure on the staff rest rooms or places to eat.
  • Use safer outside areas for breaks.
  • Install screens to protect workers in reception or similar areas.
  • Provide pre-packaged meals or similar to avoid queuing and unnecessary contact with catering staff
  • Configure seating and tables to optimise spacing and reduce face-to-face interactions.
  • Encourage workers to remain on-site and, when not possible, to maintain social distancing while off-site.
  • Consider use of social distance markings for other common areas such as toilets, showers, lockers and changing rooms and in any other areas where queues typically form.

Consultation

Employers have a duty to consult their workforce on health and safety matters, including the risks identified and the preventative and protective measures being put in place to address those.This can be done by listening and talking to them about the work and how manage COVID-19 risks will be managed. 

The people who do the work are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely.Involving them in making decisions shows concern for their health and safety.   It is also important to consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there is not one, a representative chosen by the workers.  Employers cannot decide who the representative will be.

At its most effective, full involvement of your workers creates a culture where relationships between employers and workers are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem solving. 

Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues.If concerns still cannot be resolved, see below for further steps you can take.

You must share information with your workforce about health and safety matters.  This should be done by displaying a notification in a prominent place in the business and on its website.  All employers with over 50 workers are expected to provide their information on their website.

How to raise a concern:

  • Contact your employee representative.
  • Contact your trade union if you have one.
  • Contact your local licensing authority.
  • Use the HSE form
  • Contact HSE by phone on 0300 003 1647.

Enable Self-isolation where needed 

Support should be given to people who have symptoms of COVID-19; who live in a household or are in a support bubble with someone who has the symptoms; or are advised to self-isolate as part of the NHS Test and Trace service (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing)

See:

  • Current guidance for employeesand employersrelating to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19.
  • current guidancefor people who have symptoms and those who live with others who have symptoms.
  • current guidancefor contacts with possible or confirmed Coronavirus (COVID19) infection who do not live with the person.

Coming to work and leaving work

Organisers should encourage those working on site, including volunteers, to observe COVID safety rules when travelling to and from the event site.

  • Minimise non-essential travel – consider remote options first.
  • Encourage travelling with people from outside their household or support bubble in one vehicle to have fixed travel partners and to increase ventilation in vehicles, if possible, and avoid sitting face-to-face.
  • Encourage workers to walk or cycle to the site. 
  • If use of public transport is necessary, the wearing a face covering is mandatory unless workers are exempt for health, disability or other reasons.
  • Make sure passengers in shared vehicles, such as minibuses, are kept safe.This could include leaving seats empty.
  • Where security access devices, such as keypads or passes, are used at entry/exit points, consider adjusting processes to reduce risk of transmission.For example, cleaning pass readers regularly and asking staff to hold their passes next to pass readers rather than touching them.
  • Make sure all those coming onto the event site to work, including delivery drivers and contractors appointed by traders and suppliers, are fully briefed on the event’s health requirements – in advance, if possible.
  • Consider getting all those coming onto the site – other than the attendees –to register each time they are on site confirming they are not suffering from COVID-19 symptoms or living in the same household or support bubble as someone who is unwell.Also, whether they share a household or accommodation with anyone in a vulnerable group who is self-isolating.If yes, they should not be allowed onto the site.Event organisers have a responsibility for the safety of all those on site, whether directly employed or not.
  • The registration process should be risk assessed so that it can be done safely, preferably before they leave home on-line.It is the responsibility of their employer to ensure that this is done.
  • Organisers should consider the details they gather through registration, for example a mobile phone number.Care needs to be taken to comply with the GDPR – see separate section.
  • Consideration should be given to creating an isolation/quarantine point, close to the entrance or exit, where anyone found to be unwell or at risk can be taken.
  • Consider how to get any workers who become unwell off the site and home safely.
  • Consider staggering arrival and departure times to reduce crowding at ingress and egress points, taking account of the impact on those with protected characteristics.
  • Reduce congestion, for example, by having more entry points to the site at larger events.
  • Use markings and introduce one-way flow systems at ingress and egress points as well as any points where there is risk of crowding.
  • Provide handwashing facilities (or hand sanitiser where not possible) at ingress and egress points.
  • Manage check systems at ingress and egress points to avoid contact and maintain social distancing.
  • Clean shared vehicles between shifts or on handover.
  • Where workers are required to stay away from their home, log where they are staying and make sure any overnight accommodation meets social distancing guidelines.

On-site illness 

  • Anyone working on the event site who starts to feel unwell or shows any symptoms of COVID-19 should immediately isolate themselves from other workers and either stay in isolation until medical assistance can be brought to them or leave the site altogether.
  • Consideration should be given to creating an isolation/quarantine area (ideally close to medical facilities) from the start of construction through to the conclusion of breakdown.Consideration should be given to providing suitable qualified medical staff at these points.
  • Those taken ill should report their illness to their supervisor/manager immediately and ask for a COVID-19 test on the NHS website.
  • Those with symptoms should be sent home and asked to request a COVID-19 test through the NHS Test and Trace service.
  • Consideration should also be given to sending home any co-workers who have been in close contact with the person taken ill, including those who have shared transport with them, particularly as it is known that some people can carry the virus and show no symptoms at all.Close contacts of COVID-19 cases should follow the governmentadvice and self-isolate for 14 days.

Protecting people who are at higher risk

The clinically extremely vulnerable can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should carry on working from home, wherever possible.   

Extra care should be taken where clinically vulnerable individuals need to be on site.They should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).    If they cannot maintain social distancing, you must carefully assess whether the work they will be doing involves an acceptable level of risk.   

Particular attention should also be paid to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

Ensure any changes to entries, exit and queue management take into account reasonable adjustments for those who need them, including disabled customers.For example, maintaining pedestrian and parking access for disabled customers.

See guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable form Covid-19.

Event organisers should be aware of the mental health and wellbeing of all those working for them.  The Government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus which can be found here

Accidents and first aid

In an emergency, such as an accident or need for evacuation, people do not have to maintain social distancing if it would be unsafe.

People involved in the provision of assistance to others should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards, including washing hands.

Organisers should review their incident and emergency procedures to ensure they reflect the social distancing principles as far as possible.

Cleaning

Regular and thorough cleaning is an essential part of creating a COVID-safe event.  This involves:

  • Frequent cleaning of waste areas and potential touch points around the event site, such as door handles, needs to be undertaken with suitable detergents and sanitisers.
  • Ample stocks of alcohol sanitisers and wash facilities should be available at all the locations where these are provided.
  • Frequently cleaning work areas and equipment between uses, applying normal cleaning products.
  • Reviewing the Performing Arts Guidance for additional advice on handling musical instruments, technical equipment and other similar objects.
  • Paying particular attention to areas that are likely to be touching points for the public and workers, such as door handles, waste bin lids, tables and chairs etc., all of which need to be regularly disinfected. 
  • Particular attention should be paid to areas where there is high traffic, such as backstage and all common areas.
  • When cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 (for example in designated isolation/quarantine areas), refer to specific guidance.
  • Frequent clearing of bins and waste from around the event site is important and those responsible should be provided suitable personal protective equipment and should be trained to clean surfaces around bins etc.that may be touched by the public, using a suitable detergent or sanitiser

Toilets

Public toilets, whether portable or fixed, should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.  

  • Use signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing techniques, the need to increase handwashing frequency and to discourage people from touching their face.
  • Encourage people to cough or sneeze into a tissue and to bin it safely, or into their arm if a tissue is not available.
  • Consider the use of social distancing marking in areas where queues normally form, and the adoption of a limited entry approach, with one in, one out (whilst avoiding the creation of additional bottlenecks).
  • Consider making hand sanitiser available on entry to toilets and ensure suitable handwashing facilities are available, including running water, liquid soap and suitable options for drying (either paper towels or hand driers) are available.
  • Provide clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets, with increased frequency of cleaning in line with usage.
  • It is recommended that alcohol-based cleaning products are used when toilets are in use as these are effective for COVID-19 within 1 minute.Normal cleaning agents, which take longer to deal with COVID-19, can be used for the final clean each day.
  • Particular attention should be given to the frequency of cleaning hand-touched surfaces and consider use of disposable cloths or paper roll to clean all hard surfaces.
  • Keep the facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open, where appropriate.
  • Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets and larger toilet blocks.
  • Put up a visible cleaning schedule and keep it up to date.
  • Provide more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

Those responsible should be aware that the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Moving around the event site

Movement around an event site should be kept to a minimum.

  • Reduce movement by discouraging non-essential trips within sites.For example, by restricting access to some areas or encouraging use of radios or telephones, where possible.These items require cleaning between users if in multi-use.
  • Introduce one-way flow through the site and structures.
  • Provide floor markings and signage to remind both workers and attendees to follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Regulate the flow of traffic areas.
  • Manage pinch points to avoid crowding.
  • Where vehicles such as golf buggies and mobility scooters are used by staff or visitors to get around events, keeping these away from potential pinch points around shows. 
  • Hired buggies and scooters should be cleaned after each use.

Equality in the workplace

Employers have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers and those who are new or expectant mothers and need to take into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics.   This will require:

  • Involving and communicating appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics, such as those who have difficulty hearing or who are visually impaired.This might be addressed allocating them to a different task involving less risk or avoiding taking any steps that might be inappropriate or challenging for them.
  • Consider whether there is a need to put any particular measures or adjustments in place to ensure compliance with equalities legislation.
  • Making reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage and assessing the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers.
  • Make sure that the steps taken do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others.For example, those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments.

Communication and Training

As part of maintaining COVID-safe working practices, it is important to communicate clearly with - and reassure - everyone about the rules that been put in place to make sure everyone is safe.

To this end:

  • Organisers should establish communications systems and training materials for briefing all those coming onto the site of the procedures they need to follow on site and particularly on arrival at the site.Ideally this should be sent to them in advance.
  • All those working on site, including workers, contractors, suppliers, volunteers, traders, caterers and so forth, should be provided with written guidance on the site’s health policy.
  • The site health rules should form a key part of induction training should take place in accordance with social distancing rules and preferably on-line in advance of workers coming onto site to minimise contact.
  • If induction meetings are held on site they should be held outdoors, if possible, with social distancing in place. 
  • Particular attention should be given to briefing volunteers who might not be familiar with COVID-19 work practices.
  • Clear, consistent and regular communication should be used to improve understanding and remind all those on site of the COVID-safe rules.
  • The use of images and clear language is important as for some English may not be their first language.
  • Using visual communications, such as signage will help to explain changes to schedules, breakdowns or materials shortages and reduce the need for face-to-face communication.
  • Everyone working on the site should agree to abide by the COVID-safe rules and necessary changes in working arrangements.
  • Ongoing engagement should be maintained with workers, contractors, suppliers, volunteers, traders and all those working on the event site to monitor and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments.
  • It is important that event organisers require all their contractors to follow their rules and ensure that their staff are suitably trained and briefed about them.
  • Requiring contractors, volunteers and other workers to arrive on site early for a health safety briefing is advisable.

Signage on site should be used to remind workers of the need to socially distance and to wash hands regularly.

User Menu

Mailing list.

Receive email
updates from the EIF
and Purple Guide.

* indicates required

EIF MEMBERS