Legal Issues

Society of London Theatre provides help and advice to its members on all areas of the law affecting the theatre industry and keeps members informed of changes in UK and European law and their potential impact on the industry.

INCIDENT ENQUIRY: ACCIDENTS AND NEAR-MISSES

Members may recall that in 2009 the cross-industry Theatre Safety Committee (of which SOLT is a member) launched its Incident Enquiry scheme.

The purpose of the scheme is to enable backstage and Front-of-House practitioners, as well as managers, anonymously, to report accidents and near misses in the theatre industry using an Incident Enquiry Form. The forms are then evaluated by the ABTT, recognised across the industry as an independent body with a wealth of health and safety expertise, and the results passed to the TSC for discussion and possible industry-wide recommendations.

The TSC recently released the first results of the scheme. "As expected, and in line with Health and Safety Executive findings, the highest cause of incidents is slips and trips, followed by collisions or being hit by an object, with manual handling in third place", commented David Adams from the ABTT who has been co-ordinating the evaluation. A total of 210 forms were submitted, and a number of incidents could thus be logged centrally which would otherwise only be reported internally in organisations and venues, allowing the TSC to consider the lessons which may be applicable to others working in the industry.

"Above all, the TSC is not interested in apportioning blame or pointing the finger at a particular organisation or individual", emphasised Mark White, the new Chairman of the TSC. "This is all about preventing future accidents by recognising trends or specific ways of working or particular pieces of equipment which give rise to incidents again and again. I appeal to all managements, unions and individuals in the technical theatre industry to report, and encourage reporting, to the Incident Enquiry".

The Incident Enquiry Form does not replace statutory reporting of accidents or organisational reporting structures and the TSC is aware that there are many reporting requirements already in case of an accident. "This is why we have made the form really easy to fill in; it can be done online or printed out and filled in in a few minutes. And unlike any other form it logs near-misses, thus hopefully preventing major accidents by pre-empting their causes in future", White pointed out.

Lessons from the first tranche of the Enquiry have, however, been learnt and the form has been further simplified and results will now be collated on an annual basis to enable still better comparison.

Members are urged to raise awareness of the scheme among their staff and to encourage them to submit the form in the event of a near-miss or an accident. The new version of the Incident Enquiry form can be downloaded here.

Queries on this topic should be addressed to the Head of Legal, Louise Norman (louise@soltukt.co.uk, 020 7557 6705).

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