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Safety at Family Fun Days

10 Feb 2009

Safety - Fun Fairs and Family Days
In the ongoing discussion about Safety on Events, one type of event that has erstwhile not been taken into account and is the ‘Family Day’. This type of event is becoming increasingly popular as a staff incentive for almost every imaginable business. Family Days are the ideal form of event for end-of-the-year celebrations and whilst the object of staging such an occasion is to create a sense of ‘fun’, there are serious issues to be taken into consideration during the planning of the event.

In most cases, these are outdoor events that specifically focus on entertainment and are frequently targeted at children, but are also increasingly seen as an ideal way to boost inter company relationships. One industry supply company that specializes in these events is JK Productions, headed by Jeremy Kusner, who supplies a broad range of equipment and eventing services from sound, audiovisual and staging to equipment for interactive entertainment, games and a wealth of ‘Fun Day’ paraphernalia. After years of operating within the industry, he has become aware of the pitfalls that event organizers can expose themselves to, not to mention the risk of endangering the lives of their clients.

JK Productions

Since he started his business, Kusner has taken great care to provide equipment of the highest standards and ensure that it is properly maintained in order to operate safely and efficiently. Unfortunately, in the course of working on events with innumerable event clients and other suppliers, he has become well aware that the high level of safety and professionalism at which he operates is not necessarily the norm.  Because this type of event is perceived to be sheer entertainment and therefore enjoyed in a carefree manner, the planning and organization of the event must still be attended to in the same businesslike manner as any other live event.

Uncontrolled Events

Kusner pointed out that it is vital for organizers to make firm decisions on who does what on the event. “These are dynamic events, which are frequently spread out over a wide area,” he explained. “Individual suppliers are usually concerned only with those elements they have supplied and there are some suppliers who simply delver the goods on site and return to collect them once the event has ended.” Because there is a lack of understanding of the inherent dangers in such events, all too often they are uncontrolled with no-one appointed to oversee and co-ordinate the entire site,. As Kusner remarked,”They don’t understand, so they don’t plan properly.”

SANS 10366

Another concern is whether the organizer is aware of how each of the elements works and what precautions should be taken to ensure their safe use. In fact anyone whose business it is to organize these events must make it their business to find out what the rules and regulations are for holding any kind of public event. The TPSA published the first edition of The Event Safety Guide in July 2000 and since then the TPSA has been collaborating with Standards South Africa, a division of the SABS, to publish a definitive guide to Health & Safety for Events in South Africa. The first edition, known as SANS 10366:2006, was published last year and later, updated versions of the Standard are due follow.

In the meantime, there are a number of basic rules that govern this type of Event and it is imperative for suppliers and organizers alike to apply them at all times.

Set up and Maintenance on Site

Ground Anchorage of Equipment

The ground upon which the piece of equipment is to be set up must be sufficiently suitable for ground anchorage to remain secure for the duration of the event under all weather conditions. 

Electrically operated Equipment

Cabling must be covered and concealed away from the public thoroughfares and activity areas and distribution boards must be housed in a fenced off area. Suppliers of this type of equipment should ensure that an operator is on site throughout the duration of the event.

Jumping Castles, Climbing Walls etc

Jumping Castles are designed to be used by a limited number of people and to withstand a certain amount of weight at any one time. Climbing walls should only be used when there is an inflated protective cushion in place and should not exceed a certain height without sufficient protective gear. Throughout the entertainment industry worldwide there is what is known as the ‘Six Foot Rule’. This means that anyone exposed to the possibility of falling six foot (1.8 metres) or more, must be provided with fall protection, i.e.  A hard hat, safety harness etc. 

Equipment Usage

If the equipment is being used by children, care must be taken to make sure that only children of a similar age/size are using that apparatus at any given time. When used by adults, as is the case at Team Building events, no-one who is under the influence of alcohol should not be allowed to use the equipment.

Suppliers Credentials

All of this may seem quite daunting for the Event Organizer, but in fact it’s really a matter of applying some common sense. Kusner stressed the importance of finding out who the supplier is. “Organizers need to choose their suppliers carefully by finding out what their track record is like. Ask for the contact details of some of their previous clients to see if they were happy with the service. If you’re not sure about the safety limitations of using some of the equipment, ask the supplier and if he can’t tell you, then you need to worry about whether it would be wise to use his services.” Good service providers will offer you advice about the use of their equipment without being asked. Indeed, they should insist that it is used only under certain conditions.

Trained Staff

Any company that is in the business of supplying equipment for public use should ensure that their staff members and the crew who are responsible for its maintenance and operation are properly trained to do so. Kusner is constantly acquiring new attractions to offer his clients for their events and he makes sure that his staff members know exactly how it works and how to operate it, before it is ever used on an event. As he pointed out the activities that are staged at events such as these are very vulnerable to accidents happening. Given the very nature of the Fun Days, there are usually a lot of things happening all at the same time. With Family Day events, this can be further compounded by the fact that whilst the organizer may have catered for a certain number of people attending, families are prone to bringing along their children’s friends as well. Kusner’s experience echoes this sentiment. “Usually, more people turn up for a Family Day than the organizer was expecting and more people means there is more to be managed. In this sort of situation, it’s only a matter of time before accidents will happen.”  

Article Courtesy of Events and Installation Aug 2008    



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