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National and RSC throw weight behind new safety rules

Leading arts organisations, including the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, have welcomed new health and safety regulations that will be imposed on the entertainment industry next month.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, which have been redrafted for 2015, will now apply to the entertainment and events industries in a bid to improve the planning and management of construction projects.

At a symposium hosted by the NT to discuss the new regulations, the Health and Safety Executive’s Gavin Bull said the new regulations would focus on “the principles of prevention – avoiding risk, evaluating what you can’t avoid and taking proportionate measures to control the risks at source”.

He added that the guidelines “seek to ensure these [construction] activities are managed in a consistent manner”.

The CDM Regulations have been in force in other industries since 1994. However, the HSE deemed them inappropriate for the entertainment industry until now.

As part of the changes, a new draft of the regulations has been formulated and will be enacted from April 6.

The new regulations, which are built around improving planning, management and structuring of projects, include the appointment of a principal designer and contractor for every project, the former concentrating on the management of the pre-construction phase, with the latter monitoring the construction phase.

The NT’s safety risk manager, Anna Glover, said that despite attracting concerns about its relevance, CDM would provide the entertainment industry with “a really useful line in the sand”.

“It’s a time for us to step back, look at our processes and say, ‘Can we improve on any of them?’. Our sets are getting bigger and heavier, so I just think, at what point do we say these regulations don’t apply to us?”

Other organisations to speak in support of CDM at the symposium included the RSC and Sadler’s Wells.

Emma Wilson, director of technical and production at Sadler’s Wells, said that in most cases, theatres were complying with the demands of the regulations already, and “it is just about tightening up our processes”.

The HSE has also consulted with the Association of British Theatre Technicians about the legislation.

ABTT chief executive Robin Townley said: “In discussion about the practicalities of this process, the ABTT has found the HSE pragmatic and willing to understand the systems already in place within the industry.

“The ABTT looks forward to continuing to assist all members of the industry… [in operating] safely and in compliance with the appropriate legislation.”