‘Guidance for the Management & Use of Stages and other related temporary event structures’

Guidance for the Management & Use of Stages and other related temporary event structures’ - a new guidance document in advance of the new CDM regulations - is aimed at bringing clarity to working practices within the staging and temporary structures industry.

An industry group has collaborated to create a new guidance document for stages and temporary structures in advance of the revised HSE guidelines for the new Construction Design and Management (CDM) regulations that come into force on April 6th.

The document - ‘Guidance for the Management & Use of Stages and other related temporary event structures’ – is aimed at bringing clarity to working practices within the staging and temporary structures industry. It builds on the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) draft guidance issued on its website on 9th January 2015, following a period of consultation by professionals within the industry. Contributors to the guide include Serious Stages, StageCo, Star Events, Symphotech, Acorn, Momentum, Tess, PSA, Capita and Arena Group.

This industry code of practice has been written for stages and similar structures and their use at events although much of what is written can equally be applied to other ‘temporary demountable structures’ (TDS) as the law, with limited exceptions, does not distinguish between them. These guidelines were developed in consultation between the events industry and the enforcement agencies, trialled during the summer show season of 2014, and timed to coincide with the introduction of The Construction Design & Management (CDM 2015) Regulations 2015.

The legal obligations of staging companies are set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and its associated regulations and this guidance seeks neither to replace nor to encompass the full range of obligations for the sector. In the introduction it makes clear that special attention should be directed, but not limited, to the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015, the Work at Height Regulations 2005, Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. 

Under CDM 2015 it is the Client / Event Organiser’s legal responsibility to ensure that a full and sufficient safety file and safety plan is produced for the event. Responsibility for the monitoring of temporary structures now includes the HSE on all construction & deconstruction phases as well as the local authority under licensing conditions. The first step, it says, should be discussion with the client regarding identification of parties with whom coordination and consultation is required to ensure a constructive and positive approach is in place. It is recommended that the TDS provider keeps records that confirm such contact and liaison has taken place. The phases of construction are common to all structures but the processes and methods are peculiar to each type of structure much as the location and environment vary from site to site. 

This guide does not seek to prescribe systems of work but management approaches to ensure work is carried out to meet legal obligations. To assist in the management of the process it has been broken down into four simplified phases covering planning to performance and back through deconstruction.

It is important that the process is coordinated and managed. Many events, especially where multiple contractors are on site, may have formal systems and processes in place that assist staging companies in managing and coordinating what is required. This industry code looks to identify the minimum requirements for all projects, regardless of size, required to meet the law in relation, not only to the construction and deconstruction of stages but also the subsequent installation and removal of all imposed loads such as production, set dressing and branding ready for show. It must be emphasized, it says, that variations to the imposed loads from those agreed must be signed off at the design level. 

Responsibility for the integrity of the structure remains with the company who builds it. They have duties in law to ensure it is fit for purpose, that construction and deconstruction are planned and coordinated, and that it is properly maintained during use. They have a duty to ensure all imposed loads, such as production, set dressing and branding do not adversely impact on the integrity of the structure at design level. 

They also have responsibilities for the health, safety and welfare of their own staff, and that of all other workers involved in the construction area. It is recommended that all completion certifications signed at Phase C (production in) are countersigned by the staging company 

It is recommended that records, plans and designs are kept on site, and that sign off records are completed for each phase of construction identified above, and likewise kept on site. 

Sample completion certificates/hand over documents are included as part of this guidance to ensure each phase of construction is properly managed and coordinated. Final responsibility must remain with the client to ensure that these are maintained and that any subsequent changes are identified and shared with all duty holders. 

The final section provides a detailed guide on wind management, an important area following a number of problematic incidents going back a few years. In addition to a wind reference chart and action levels depending on the wind speed, it also offers this reminder:

“Understanding the effect of wind on structures: It is important to recognise that it is wind pressure on a structure that poses an issue, not merely wind speeds themselves. The relationship between pressure and wind is not linear. The applied pressure is proportional to the square of the wind speed.

“For example: An increase in wind speed from 12 metres per second to 17 metres per second will approximately double the pressure on the structure. Between 12 metres per second & 24 metres per second, pressure on the structure approximately quadruple. A table and graph are included.