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Events crewing company gets smart with loading at venues

Events and entertainment is a fast moving, high pressure industry which sees performers and touring personnel travel from city to city by air, while their stages and equipment are moved between venues by specialist transport and logistic companies.

Both local and touring crews are tasked with loading and unloading this equipment which can range from just a few small trucks to as many as 50 semi-trailers for large shows.

Crewing company All Access has trialled a number of safety initiatives that could also benefit others in the industry.

What are the risks?

There are risks with loading and unloading equipment and structures using truck ramps (up to 30 degree angle incline) and moving loads to the stage. Common risks associated with the work include:

  • the pace of work, and large number of workers and forklifts and poor visibility
  • being struck by falling objects on the ramps or by nearby vehicles
  • musculoskeletal injuries handling loads that can be awkward and often heavy
  • being struck by falling loads
  • slips, trips and falls.

What controls were adopted?

All Access trialled double ramps to reduce the angle of the ramps. This worked in some areas but also meant more space was needed. There were risks of workers being hit by falling equipment, falling off the ramp or being hit by forklifts. To address these issues, higher order controls were instigated, including:

  • consultation with stakeholders to ensure adequate procedures and equipment are provided, including mobile docks
  • trucks with tailgate lifters, particularly for small shows or venues with limited access
  • production companies to build stages so trucks back directly onto docks and ensuring only single stacking of equipment on trucks.

Small portable docks (SPDs) were also identified as being a safer alternative. SPDs use stage decking and are an option when venues have no dock available, when there is limited room, a small number of trucks, or when pre-rigs are double stacked on site. These docks require minimal storage and are easy to transport.

Working with All Access as part of the trial, Brisbane Entertainment Centre managers ASM Global found mobile docks were highly effective. Portable docks were not a long-term solution due to the large number of shows at the venue.

BEC designed a modular system that can be set up in height adjustable configurations, with the system incorporating safety handrails and non-slip decking, reducing the need for workers to stand in unsafe positions around moving loads.

Photographs: Workers using short ramp (steep incline)

Events crewing 01

Photograph: Longer graduated double ramp design

Events crewing 02

Recommendations for the event and entertainment industry out of the trial

  • Include procedures and processes to address these risks in your occupational health and safety management system and ensure controls are implemented.
  • Review loading and unloading tasks at each venue prior to an event and implement higher order controls such as the modular system or portable docks.
  • Maximise use of forklifts and other mechanical aids and minimise use of short ramps.
  • Communicate controls throughout the supply chain and workers.