Sunday, 28 October 2007

Compliance with Standards and Regulations

I ended the last blog stating that contractual compliance with existing standards and regulations is one way to improve risk management by event producers. Let's examine this more closely.

First, what are standards and regulations? Standards are generally specifications or guidelines that have been established by recognized national and international industry organizations called "standards development organizations" or SDOs. They typically pertain to the design and use of equipment. Such organizations include the Canadian Standards Association in Canada and the National Fire Protection Association in the USA. The content of standards may relate to products, processes, services, systems, or personnel. Examples of standards established by these organizations include the Canadian Electrical Code in Canada and the National Electrical Code in the USA. Similarly, other standards in such event production areas as rigging, audio, lighting, and staging, are drawn up by relevant organizations and given numbers and names.

Regulations, on the other hand, are simply standards that have been turned into law, either nationally or locally. Examples include personnel safety standards published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the USA or Workers' Compensation Boards in Canada.

Much of the content of standards and regulations pertains directly to special events. Herein lies the problem. Most event managers and producers have no idea that such standards and regulations exist, yet if they were followed because of contractual obligations, special event risk would be reduced in many areas. A typical example would be the standards pertaining to rigging which dictate how trussing must be designed for use in entertainment. To highlight the seriousness of ignorance, between 2002 and 2003, for example, four major stage and truss collapses occurred, including rigs set up for Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, South African president Mbeki, and Christian rock group Godstock. Although nobody was killed in any of these, in most cases the damage was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and for some, a tour cancellation and continuing litigation.

Suffice it to say, I firmly believe that all special event managers and producers should be familiar with the standards and regulations pertaining to this industry, and to help alleviate potential risk in these areas, should contractually bind suppliers to adhere to all applicable standards and regulations in their specialties.

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