The Science Of Safety

Health and safety is becoming more like health and science. Event organisers can get up to speed when Yourope, the European festival association behind so many new initiatives, reveals the results of its latest research in Hamburg Sept. 23-24.

Working with Professor Chris Kemp from Buckingham University, Yourope’s Event Safety group (YES) – which is now integrated with the ILMC Safety Focus Group – has been testing pressure barriers and pressure suits.

The pressure barrier study is a study of pressure at the front of stage area of events. The MOJO Barrier BLMS system measures the pressure at certain points on the barrier. This is then fed back to a computer, which throughout a concert analyses the graphical evidence of the pressure on the barriers.

The pressure suit project uses similar methods. It’s worn by researchers in the crowd and measures the pressure and temperature throughout the concert on whoever is wearing the suit.

The results can then be mapped against CCTV from the concert to examine why the pressure and temperature changed at certain points.

Yourope runs two safety seminars each year. The first is exclusively for its members and the second, which will be part of the conference that runs parallel to Hamburg Reeperbahn Festival, is open to a wider audience from a range of disciplines working at events and festivals.

As the nine deaths caused by a crowd crush at Roskilde Festival in 2000 acted as something of a wakeup call for the global live music business, it’s appropriate that the Danish outdoor has been used as the model for the research, prior to the results being tested across a range of events throughout Europe.

As Yourope is a nonprofit organisation, the funding for the research came from the European Council for Health and Safety. It’s hoped it will result in the creation of a health and safety database that can be used by all those working at outdoor events.

Another item on the September agenda in Hamburg will be making governments aware of the confusing legislation and conflicting practices that make it difficult to put in place a global or even pan-European template for festival safety.

After last year’s freak winds caused the disruption of some European festivals, and led to one fan being killed at Pohoda Festival in Slovakia, another topic is likely to be what outdoor event organisers can do to minimise the effects of extreme weather.