Health & Safety responsibility is determined by how a Project is Commissioned and Organised.
Everyone involved needs to be clear who is responsible for what, early in a project, so they understand their own responsibilities & those of others before they start work.
Responsibility for safety & health sits with the people planning & carrying out the work, it cannot be delegated to a 3rd party drafted in to “manage” it.
Every employer must have competent assistance, this is generally most effective if it is embedded within the Project Team (although external expert advice may be appropriate for specific areas of risk). It is just one of the requirements the Project team has to meet, along with ensuring the project meets the Client’s brief & can be delivered in the time, space & budget available.
There will almost always be a Client that commissions the work. Depending on the nature of the work involved they may have specific Statutory Duties (for example Client Duties under CDM, see separate section).
In broad terms the Client needs to provide a clear brief, enough resources (including time & money), & appoint competent suppliers to deliver the project for them.
Most events take place at a “Venue”, anything from a Greenfield site to a purpose-designed event space. Venue responsibilities vary depending on a number of factors, however in broad terms they are renting out their space & must make sure that any buildings & services they provide are properly maintained & fit for purpose.
They may use their contract to assign specific responsibilities to the Tenant (often either the Client or a Production Agency / Organiser). These details are important, for example they may retain responsibility for emergency actions, or pass this on to the Tenant, or insist certain 3rd party suppliers are used (but paid directly).
How the Venue is selected & commissioned is a significant but often-overlooked factor in terms of responsibilities.
Production Agencies / Organisers will generally have responsibility for designing, coordinating & managing the work involved with the in-coming event. They communicate, coordinate & cooperate with the Venue Event Manager to integrate Production with the Venue requirements.
Each employer has responsibility to plan, manage & monitor the work they will deliver on site, making sure it is safe for their own staff & others who may be affected. This includes design & specification as well as the actual work on site.
Employees also have responsibility to work safely, cooperate with employers & not interfere with things provided for safety.
In shared workplaces responsibilities can be unclear & it is important that this is addressed in terms of the Organisation the Client puts in place. CDM provides a formal framework for work involving structures (typically the fit up & strike), however the other phases of a project, including the Open Phase, also need to be considered. There are also specific legal duties for the “Occupier” of premises, to the degree that they have control over the premises. Where CDM does not apply, the concept of a Controlling Employer is a useful one for Clients & Agencies to consider.