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OH&S basics for live events

You'll Discover:

  • Where to find up-to-date OHS policies regarding performance.
  • Basic summary of prominent OHS actions to take.

As most venues know, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) is a key component of running a safe and successful space. When it comes to the sound and lighting installed in your venue, OHS ensures that performers, staff and patrons can enjoy your events in a safe environment.

Even if you have solid OHS policies in place, its advisable to review them regularly, especially after your venue undergoes any significant changes (e.g. a new stage is built, new technical equipment is installed). To assist you, we’ve compiled a list of resources and organisations that you can look into for legal and accurate OHS advice.

This list is by no means the full scope of Tech OHS, but rather a general list of things to cover.


Risk assessments and testing equipment

Conducting Risk Assessments

The Department of Premier and Cabinet recommends that a risk management plan “should form part of your emergency management approach.” They elaborate further by highlighting that “risks should be carefully analysed and then rated according to likelihood and impact. Control measures should then be developed to reduce the likelihood of risks occurring. Comparing the benefits and costs will help you decide your mitigation strategies. Focus on risks that have significant impacts or consequences.”

Any risks identified through the risk management plan should continue to be monitored, assessed and managed, both throughout the planning of the event, and during the event.

Regularly testing equipment

Safe Work NSW states that a “competent person” must carry out this testing. They define this person as possessing “the knowledge and skill, acquired through training, qualification or experience, to carry out the task. They must also have the proper testing equipment.

Once tested, keep a record of, or tag the equipment with, information including:

  • the name of the tester
  • the date of testing
  • the date of the next testing
  • the outcome of the testing.

Only use electrical equipment that has been tested and tagged. If a piece of equipment is deemed to be unsafe or broken, disconnect it from power immediately, label it as unusable and store somewhere secure to avoid accidental usage.

Read manufacturer manual before use

All electrical equipment must comply with Australian Standards (AS/NZ 3760). Before use, Safe Work NSW recommends “to get safety data sheets and instruction manuals from manufacturers and suppliers”. This way you can be educated and know how to avoid created unwanted risks or injuries.

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Think about equipment placement

Make sure the equipment is placed securely

Live Performance Australia outline a number of factors that come into determining the positioning and placement of tech equipment. These include ensuring that:

  • the safety of crew and performers is considered.
  • Appropriate electrical distribution boards are available.
  • Qualified electricians are available for power set up.
  • Adequate knowledge of circuits is assured.
  • Power surge and Residual Current Device (RCD) protection is provided.
  • All leads on stage are taped down or covered to prevent trip hazards.
  • Speaker mounts and rigs are checked to ensure they are stable and secure.

Store in a safe, dry and secure place when not in use

Storage requirements must be assessed and planned well prior to the production period as stated by Live Performance Australia. This means storing tech equipment in an area that doesn’t obstruct any access points or emergency exits within your venue. It must also be an area not easily accessible to patrons or non-staff individuals.

Live Performance Australia is the peak body for the live performance industry Australia. You're most likely already familiar with them, but did you know that they have comprehensive workplace health and safety guides on their website? Access them here.

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Regularly check on your equipment!

Assess and review venue tech OHS policies

One person at your venue should have primary responsibility for looking after your tech OHS, in consultation with your sound engineer(s) and/or technical staff.

Their job to cross-reference any changes at the venue with OHS policies (both in-venue and from other sources like Safe Work NSW), conduct technical risk assessments and update all staff on changes to tech OHS policies so that all staff can enact tech OHS best practice.

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We thoroughly recommend reading through the following resources to get a more in-depth insight into OH&S and how it affects live performance in your venue:

You can also find a host of templates for assessments and incident reports via the Live Music Office website.

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