By Gytha North
Well, I did say I would do it if no-one else volunteered.... This is going to become an increasingly onerous and important task at UK conventions.
Our electrical equipment requirements were straight from the book, we did not require any more than was legally required. The fact that the SECC and most of their suppliers did not in fact comply with the legislation is beside the point. I required in all of our hire contracts that equipment should comply with the Health and Safety legislation, if anything had gone wrong we would not have been liable as we had demonstrated due care.
The only change I would make is that I would not agree to our testing of kit on the day as this was a time consuming exercise that lost us both people and goodwill points. Better to stick to "if it is not certified you can't use it." As hotel chains start to do formal hazard checking of their operations they will then be conforming to regulations that they have been turning a blind eye to for years, we as con-runners will have to be prepared to cope with these changes.
Small things like making sure that we are not creating tripping hazards by laying cable across aisles, ensuring that our volunteers do not attempt to lift too much, putting barriers/warning signs around the live end of electrical equipment, could make the difference between getting no trouble and having a convention closed down.
By Fiona Anderson
(These are the final instructions that went into the Ops Manual, after consultation with Gytha. Since Gytha was our Board member with responsibility for H+S, all accidents and medical incidents also had to be reported to her, as detailed in another part of the manual)
There will be an information leaflet on Intersection's Health and Safety policy issued to every person who works on Intersection. Thus every Area must be supplied with copies of this leaflet to give to their staff.
All volunteers/staff must sign that they have read the H+S leaflet on the Volunteer Form, before they are allowed to do any work for us, and before they are given a ribbon. Each Area must keep all the signed forms for its own workers. The Gopher Hole will have all the forms for casual volunteers/gophers.
The main message of this leaflet will be that Health and Safety will be the responsibility of each person, so if *you* see something wrong, report it before there is a chance of anything going wrong.
Any concerns regarding possible safety issues should be referred to Gytha North, who is responsible for Health and Safety.
Any actual safety incidents (e.g. accidents) should be reported to Gytha North as well as following the normal procedure.
Copies of the SECC Health and Safety Procedures booklet will be available in the Ops Room.
By Gytha North.
The Committee welcomes you to Intersection and thanks you for helping at the Convention.
It is the policy of Intersection to attach the highest degree of importance to all aspects of safety and to ensure that all volunteers and attendees are provided with a safe and healthy environment for the Convention. This requires total involvement by all levels of staff. It is therefore essential that everyone has a thorough understanding of safety as it relates to any work they are undertaking and to the safety of attendees .
Intersection has established procedures which supplement legal requirements, compliance is mandatory.
Your assistance is valuable to us, we want you to take a pride in what we achieve and to assist the Committee in maintaining a safe and healthy environment for the Convention.
This leaflet is issued for guidance and is not intended to be a substitute for commonsense. It is not intended to define every hazard that may be encountered at the Convention, neither does it replace any statutory legislation.
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Statement of Policy.
The Committee recognises its responsibility for providing as far as is reasonably practicable a safe and healthy environment for its volunteers and attendees.
Safety, Health and Welfare can only be realised by the co- operation and awareness of all those who are working on the Convention. Under the Act every worker has a legal obligation to take all reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and others, and to co-operate with the Committee in enabling it to fulfil its obligations.
Whilst in the S.E.C.C. their Health and Safety procedures must be complied with at all times. Copies of their Health and Safety procedures are available from Ops.
Particular requirements that all persons should be aware of are as follows.
a. You must not enter a "hard hat" area without permission, and if you do enter you must wear a hard hat.
b. No electrical item may be plugged into any power socket at the S.E.C.C. unless it has passed an electrical inspection and been entered into our log book. Items that have been checked will have an identifying sticker on them.
c. All persons should ensure they are aware of emergency exits from rooms they are working in.
d. All persons should ensure that safety exits and aisles are not blocked or impeded in any way, and that fire doors are not wedged open.
a. All persons should ensure they are aware of emergency exits from rooms they are working in.
b. All persons should ensure that safety exits and aisles are not blocked or impeded in any way and that fire doors are not wedged open.
Intersection Health & Safety Rules and Instructions.
1. All persons working at the Convention at any venue must ensure they are aware of the emergency exits from rooms they are working in and ensure that such exits are accessible at all times.
2. All items of electrical equipment to be used at the S.E.C.C. excepting only that equipment provided by Track 29 in Hall 5 and the equipment installed in Hall 1 must be checked and logged by our Electrical Safety Team or have it's certificate of Electrical Safety checked and logged before it is plugged in - this includes even such items as battery chargers and video cameras, there are no exceptions. If there is any doubt then the item should be disconnected from the electrical supply immediately and a report made promptly to Ops who will contact the Electrical Safety Team to check the situation. (Any items found which have not been checked by our team will be removed and locked away for the duration of the Convention.)
3. No room in any venue should have more persons in it than are allowed by the fire regulations. If there are concerns make a head count and report to Ops who will refer to Security if necessary.
4 In the SECC an announcement will be read out before each event in Halls 1, 2, 3, and 5 explaining briefly the evacuation procedure. This is the responsibility of the Hall Manager the Hall at the relevant time.
5. If an emergency evacuation of the S.E.C.C. should be necessary co-operate with S.E.C.C. personnel and Intersection Evacuation Marshals in clearing all persons safely from the room you are in and wait outside as directed. No-one except S.E.C.C. Staff and Intersection Evacuation Marshals and their teams should re-enter the building until the all clear is given by the Intersection Evacuation Marshall, this will not happen until rooms are re-staffed .
6. If there should be an accident then Ops should be informed as soon as possible, give the location and nature of the accident so that a fast response can be co- ordinated. Ops will inform the emergency services if necessary and get first aid assistance to the location immediately. Ensure the casualty is breathing, stop bleeding, and only move the casualty if there is imminent danger in the situation. All accidents, even minor ones, should be recorded in the Accident Book which is held in Ops. Ops will ensure that the SECC and/or Intersection Health & Safety persons are informed if necessary.
7. If you are unsure of the safety of any situation or piece of equipment, check with Ops. If in doubt, ask.
By Fiona Anderson
(Fiona: these are the instructions that went into the Ops Manual, after consultation with Gytha.)
All electric items WITHOUT EXCEPTION must be tested and certificated by Tech prior to their use anywhere in the SECC. This includes kettles! Any item being used around the SECC without the tag showing it has been tested will be removed and locked away in Secure Store for the duration of the convention, appropriately labelled Since use of untested equipment can lead to the convention being shut down, this MUST be rigorously enforced.
There will be a tech team set up to check stuff that is going into the SECC as early as possible. The priorities will be:
' 2. Fan Fair/Art Show
Security and Stewards will keep their eyes open at all times to check electrical equipment has a tag to show it has been tested, and will remove any untested items, while informing Ops of the removal and of all details (e.g. owner, place, time, circumstances). If the user is uncooperative, then they may be requested to leave the convention. (If this is likely the DCM *must* be called to authorise this).
All staff are reminded that all equipment should be inspected before each use for any obvious signs of damage or unfitness for use by the user. If in doubt, refer to Tech for advice and testing.
By Andy Croft.
(Fiona: This article is a letter that has been published as part of the ABTT newsletter, but Andy has given us permission to use it here too, as it directly concerns events at Intersection, in regard to Electrical Testing.)
Dear Sir or Madam,
I was recently acting at a major international convention as the Electrical Safety Officer. This was mainly doing/supervising Portable Appliance Testing. During the convention we carried out some 367 inspection + tests of which we failed approximately 10 - 20% of the items presented to us, not counting the equipment from the USA.
Despite the organisers having sent a lot of reminders about the difference in voltages, a number of people brought 110V 60Hz equipment which I refused to even look at seriously. Note: a number of US IEC leads have the line/neutral lines crossed. Not a problem to them but no good in the UK where they might get used on equipment that cares about polarity.
What I found more worrying was the state of the equipment presented for inspection, particularly that from hire companies. One company supplied a number of computers for use during the convention; only 3 reads supplied had anything less than a 13A fuse for a typical load of less than 3A including starting surge. It should be noted that these leads were as supplied by the manufacturer, so two companies were wrong: the makers and the hire company. The hire company when challenged apparently knew nothing about the PAT regulations at all, despite compliance having been a quoted requirement in the hire tender.
None of their equipment has seemingly ever been tested or checked for electrical safety in any form. The impression given was that the sales staff were responsible for making sure that everything was "0K", not technical staff.
Even more worrying was the company that had hired some theatrical lanterns from a small theatrical hire company. When inspected and tested, we found that 5 plugs had to be remade/replaced. One lead was scrapped due to the state of the plug and flying socket. The socket had failed the PAT test by the earth shorting to neutral thanks to a left over solder tag on the earth connection with sharp edges penetrating the insulation on the neutral. To cap it all, one of the lanterns, a 500W parcan had an earth with 20W resistance to the body. This incidentally was on a rig of 4 lanterns with a few extension 1eads!
The PAT machines mains checks also highlighted problems with some of the sockets at the convention centre whereby they had unreliable connections. These were quickly sorted out by the centre staff once they understood that we knew they had a problem.
Be warned. A quick check with a mains tester might well be advised unless you like dodgy earths and neutrals.
(Andy is currently writing a book on Technical Matters for conventions).