28/07/2014 09:07 HRS

Following the governments wish to review existing legislation, remove redundant and conflicting regulation, reduce the number of approved codes of practice and limit new legislation to being cost cutting to industry, we are faced with the likely application of the CDM Regs to the entertainment industry.

Removal of the ACoP as a part of this process means the exclusion that applied to entertainment has been lost and CDM will apply to any and all ‘construction’ activity within events and entertainment.

Many of us across the various sectors of entertainment have been involved in the consultations on the revision of the CDM Regs, consultation between the HSE and many of the trade and commercial groups in entertainment has added pressure to a call for there to be an economic impact assessment on the application of the Regs to the entertainment industry. In the 20 years they have been in place they have never been applied to us.

This has (now) been agreed and at a recent meeting between the HSE, representatives from across entertainment and the HSE’s economist, the core requirements for an impact assessment were identified and a series of interviews agreed to discuss the finer points of the economic headlines.

The process identifies not just the cost of the industry applying the Regs, it includes identification of what would be required to apply CDM to our daily activities, the training and development, infrastructure, resources and the timeframe.

Calculating the real cost(s) and the impact has been an interesting challenge for both venues and our Clients (who are most affected). Venues are affected in how they provide support and advice to their Clients and contractors in an event.

So, where are we now? The process has been started and will continue until sufficient data has been identified, delivered, received and calculated for the assessment to be completed and the outcome solution or option proposed to Government.

What outcomes are there? There are 3 possible outcomes, the first is that we retain the status quo, wherein we continue as at present – with a more interested HSE who will take notice of the temporary demountable structures that we construct; secondly, they could apply the Regs in their current form and we bear the costs and move forward looking more like a construction industry clone than entertainment, and thirdly; we might see a limited application of the Regs as is being applied to the domestic construction industry wherein the Client responsibilities pass to the constructor building an extension, similarly in our world the Client role would pass to the operations or production team leaving the production or operations manager as the most responsible person as Principal Contractor and Principal Designer.

While none of these outcomes is good – including the status quo (we should not have been affected by this at all) – there is an opportunity for our leaders in entertainment to continue lobbying, to define a clear and finite “does not apply” at all, and ever. The status quo we have currently means the CDM Regs DO apply but are not enforced. This is not good enough as a change of Government might reverse the decision and openly apply the Regs.

Defining the original intent of the Regs when they were an EC Directive shows that they were intended for application to construction activity eg; building sites where so many accidents were occurring, what we do is different and in comparison to the accident incident rate in construction which this law was implemented to address we do not have a parallel or similar problem.

In closing I think it is important to state that we are at the beginning of a series of changes, step one is preventing CDM being applied, step two and beyond need to provide guarantees that the Regs will not be applied in the future and we have joined up thinking in the creation of entertainment specific guidance rather than legislation to provide a structured approach to the management of entertainment, something proportional to both the scale and type of our undertaking. Goal setting not duty setting.

Credit: Michael Anderson, Chairman of the ABTT Safety Committee