SA Event Safety Council works towards recovery
Friday, 11 June 2021
mike-lordMike Lord – ‘COVID-19 is a complex problem, and there is no single, simple solution’
South Africa - Although the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic brought the live events industry to a virtual standstill, the past 15 months have been busier than ever for SACIA’s Events Safety Council. The Council is an association of event safety specialists and event safety companies providing event safety solutions for the South African event sector. It is part of a global network of event safety professionals dealing with health and safety in the events industry.
The advent of the pandemic saw council members, unable to earn a living under lockdown restrictions, volunteering their time to drive the recovery of the event sector in South Africa instead. "It has been a rollercoaster ride, keeping one's wits about you, staying motivated and positive, and pressurising the government to recognise that our professional recovery plan will successfully keep people COVID-safe at the events we host," says Interim chair Mike Lord.
Previously, the Event Safety Council focused primarily on general safety risks such as erecting structures, crowd management, and fire plans. However, the arrival of COVID-19 emphasised health risk management firmly ahead of general safety. Now health risk and safety risk must be dealt with simultaneously when planning an event. The viral spread has become another risk in the event safety chain. Like any other risk within an event, one must identify the hazard, determine who will be harmed and provide prevention and control measures to eliminate, remove the risk or mitigate against its occurrence.
"COVID-19 is a complex problem, and there is no single, simple solution. The environment keeps changing, and the laws are constantly being adjusted - as a result, it is difficult to keep up. We are tackling the problem with science, facts and experience while keeping an eye on global trends," explains Lord. "The lack of stability over the past 15 months has made planning impossible and threatens the very survival of this sector.
“The events industry is advocating recovery via the #trustUs campaign and continuously lobbying the government to work with our experts to re-open our industry. Government and private sector need to work collaboratively. Once the government takes our sector into their confidence, they will realise that we are a dynamic, professional, solutions-driven industry with implementable solutions that can safely open the road to recovery. The laws governing events in South Africa are already in place, and with enforcement and compliance, we believe we can hold organised events in a COVID-safe manner."
With its partners in the SA Events Council (SAEC), the Event Safety Council is actively engaged with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC). “Since SACIA published the Re-Opening Guidelines for the Events Industry in June 2020, the message that the sector is ready to re-open safely has been echoed across all subsequent initiatives,” says SACIA executive director, Kevan Jones. “DSAC now recognises SACIA as representatives of the industry. SACIA members work closely with senior officials from DSAC to develop a roadmap for recovery.”

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