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Health and Safety at Weddings !

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llareggub
llareggub  3664 forum posts United Kingdom
8 Aug 2013 - 10:37 AM

I've not seen any post indicating that somebody should do it as general practice, the OP's experience indicates that he does in fact assess the risks and decided it was not worth taking and therefore altered his approach.

Essentially he undertook the risk assessment process, in most circumstances this is more than adequate for a photographer, however there will always by the outlying cases, particularly given that a photographer tends to work in someone elses 'yard' and as such needs to play by the rules of others.

Now if photographer has a permanent studio I would suggest that becomes a completely different matter and then they should have a set of relatively simple but comprehensive risk assessments.

Last Modified By llareggub at 8 Aug 2013 - 10:39 AM
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8 Aug 2013 - 10:37 AM

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ade_mcfade
ade_mcfade  1014747 forum posts England216 Constructive Critique Points
8 Aug 2013 - 2:09 PM

I still think the "**** check" is most effective....

Cocks upset people

upset people get angry

angry and upset people don't make great photos

avoid hiring a **** and you're most of the way there

Just bung everything in "Auto" mode - get ETTL flashes - don't be a **** - job done

Wink

Sooty_1
Sooty_1 Critique Team 41181 forum posts United Kingdom196 Constructive Critique Points
8 Aug 2013 - 10:44 PM

One of the first tenets in the H&S manual is that first and foremost, the primary person responsible is the individual themselves.
Second, the whole point of H&S is to eliminate risk, and this is almost always impossible, so you have to mitigate it as far as possible. A simple tick sheet as a method statement and recordkeeping is a good idea, as is making notes at a venue in case you work there again.

Nick

Evertonian
9 Aug 2013 - 9:30 AM


Quote: I've not seen any post indicating that somebody should do it as general practice, the OP's experience indicates that he does in fact assess the risks and decided it was not worth taking and therefore altered his approach.


You may not have seen a post but to do so look up The Health & Safety at Work Act of 1974. Something that all business need to be aware of. Granted there are different aspects which only relate to businesses which employ more than 5 people but the basis of 'look at what you do and how to do it safely' applies to everybody. That is where method statements and risk assessments are derived from.


Quote: Second, the whole point of H&S is to eliminate risk, and this is almost always impossible, so you have to mitigate it as far as possible. A simple tick sheet as a method statement and recordkeeping is a good idea, as is making notes at a venue in case you work there again.
Nick

The duty of the assessor is not to eliminate risk, it is to manage the risk safely. Naturally the first avenue is to see if you can eliminate the risk, if so then that is the best way of managing it, but it cannot always be eliminated which is why the emphasis is the management of the risk.

The other thing is that whilst ensuring the duty of care to everybody who comes into contact with you during the course of your work, it does need to be proportionate to the task at hand. ie major works, lots of assessments, small jobs small assessments but at all times there has to be attention to the welfare and safety of everybody involved by written assessments.

Generic are Ok to start with covering everything you can think of, but space should be left perhaps on the rear of your assessment for updating once you arrive at site.

Last Modified By Evertonian at 9 Aug 2013 - 9:36 AM
llareggub
llareggub  3664 forum posts United Kingdom
9 Aug 2013 - 10:11 AM


Quote: I've not seen any post indicating that somebody should do it as general practice, the OP's experience indicates that he does in fact assess the risks and decided it was not worth taking and therefore altered his approach.


You may not have seen a post but to do so look up The Health & Safety at Work Act of 1974. Something that all business need to be aware of. Granted there are different aspects which only relate to businesses which employ more than 5 people but the basis of 'look at what you do and how to do it safely' applies to everybody. That is where method statements and risk assessments are derived from.


As somebody with a raft of Health and Safety qualifications despite the fact that H&S was not my core role I have no need to look at the HASWA 1974, which in and of itself does specifically require any such thing as a Risk Assessment, you are actually referring to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999!

Those regulations state that every Employer needs to make a 'suitable and sufficient' assessment of risk to themselves, their employees and members of the general public, it only specifies that significant risks should be documented if 5 or more people are employed. Personally I would create a simple risk assessment form that was a tick box with an 'other items' section and I would complete it as a matter of course when taking photographs for business purposes in a venue. However that is down to my understanding and experience in the field. There is a simple and pragmatic truth, the HSE will only prosecute a small business in the event of a major (probably RIDDOR reportable) incident, so long as you operate with appropriate care then that will not happen. In the event of there being such an incident the presence or lack of a written risk assessment for a owner operated photography business using a second shooter will have no discernible impact as to whether a prosecution is pursued. It may however mitigate some severity of the prosecution if you can demonstrate that you had done all that you could have done, but lets face it if there was a resulting RIDDOR reportable incident the chances that you screwed up are high and your risk assessment will be of no use to you as a mitigating factor.

To put this in context there has not been a single action taken by the HSE against a photography related SIC2007 code in the last 5 years quite remarkable when you consider that there has probably been 1.25 million weddings (average at 250,000 per year) in that period with the majority of them employing a photographer and that is before we consider pre-wedding shoots, portrait sessions and all the other aspects of photography that are too multifarious to list.

The reference to companies with over 5 employees refers to the requirement to have a written health and safety policy that will govern how you manage health and safety within your organisation which should include your policy to things such as Risk assessments and host of other items. The act also stipulates that if you employ more than 5 people you must record and document 'significant' findings from any Risk Assessment that is undertaken. There are actually ACOP's for risk assessments and these are produced by risk sectors and those should be ignored at your own peril, you may or may not be surprised to know that there is no HSE ACOP for assessing risk in the photographic sector, however the ACOP relating to the Provision and Safe Use of Work Equipment would be of far greater importance for a 'roving' photographer to consider than the documentation of RA's.

ade_mcfade
ade_mcfade  1014747 forum posts England216 Constructive Critique Points
9 Aug 2013 - 10:56 AM


Quote: which in and of itself

??

confused Wink

mikehit
mikehit  46189 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
9 Aug 2013 - 11:22 AM


Quote: I've not seen any post indicating that somebody should do it as general practice,

As an example, take Gundog's post:


Quote: I suppose as a business, it is incumbent upon you to provide a set of written risk assessments together with a Method Statement before starting the job in hand.

(my emphasis)


So let's get this right....people here are quoting HSE requirements for risk assessment relating to employees in the workplace, but the OP was asking about possible risks of taking pictures of the public in a venue outside their responsibility.
If you are talking about risk assessments in the photographer's own studio, I would agree, but for field work, aren't people going a wee bit over the top about this? To my mind it is these sort of responses that perpetuates unnecessary scares and fears, with knee-jerk (and totally unsubstantiated) advice like 'You have to have model release before taking photos of people' and 'you can't take a photo of a protected bird within a kilometre of its nest'.
And despite all the press horror stories, there has been no rocket in compensation claims but what there is are people getting shedloads of paperwork because of the fear of a rise in compensation claims.

ade_mcfade
ade_mcfade  1014747 forum posts England216 Constructive Critique Points
9 Aug 2013 - 11:53 AM

who pays for the risk assessments?

llareggub
llareggub  3664 forum posts United Kingdom
9 Aug 2013 - 11:53 AM


Quote: I've not seen any post indicating that somebody should do it as general practice,

As an example, take Gundog's post:

I suppose as a business, it is incumbent upon you to provide a set of written risk assessments together with a Method Statement before starting the job in hand.
(my emphasis)


So let's get this right....people here are quoting HSE requirements for risk assessment relating to employees in the workplace, but the OP was asking about possible risks of taking pictures of the public in a venue outside their responsibility.
If you are talking about risk assessments in the photographer's own studio, I would agree, but for field work, aren't people going a wee bit over the top about this? To my mind it is these sort of responses that perpetuates unnecessary scares and fears, with knee-jerk (and totally unsubstantiated) advice like 'You have to have model release before taking photos of people' and 'you can't take a photo of a protected bird within a kilometre of its nest'.
And despite all the press horror stories, there has been no rocket in compensation claims but what there is are people getting shedloads of paperwork because of the fear of a rise in compensation claims.

In the original example the person who would have been legally responsible for any incident that occurred (short of the staircase collapsing) would have been the photographer as he would have been responsible for arranging people on the staircase, but in this incident he undertook a suitable and sufficient risk assessment (even without the need to write it down) and moved the people, I don't get why that's a complicated notion to grasp. The hotel also have legal obligations and it would be entirely feasible that the HSE would have prosecuted both in the event of a serious incident, however this is pushing things to the n'th degree.

I kind of agree with your overall sentiment, however there is a legal requirement for 'suitable and sufficient' risk assessments to be undertaken by all businesses, that does not necessarily mean you need a bucket load of paperwork. Now part of the 'elf and safety' brigade are zealots and typically define suitable and sufficient as being very document heavy. I have seen some pretty shockingly poor examples of this that were neither sufficient or suitable, but because there was loads of paperwork they thought it would do.

If you employ more than 5 people then you have a legal obligation to have a Health and Safety Policy and document within that policy what your approach to Risk Assessments are and also to document 'significant' risks identified during the risk assessment process. From a professional point of view there is no reason for that to generate anywhere near as much paperwork as it usually does, it typically stems from, a little bit of knowledge but absolutely no understanding.

Compensation claims need to be separated from discussions of legal compliance, breach of Health and Safety legislation leads to prosecution by the HSE and in the case of a guilty verdict a fine or imprisonment, unless you work for the Old Bill or the Armed Forces etc, then you receive a "Crown Censure", claims for workplace injury tend to be a very different matter.

There was an increase in these compensation claims in the middle 5-7 years of the 90's however it was far from an explosion, but it did result in a far more risk averse attitude in the workplace, this risk aversion is nothing to do with Health and Safety and is an inappropriate (to my mind) corporate response to a perceived commercial risk.

llareggub
llareggub  3664 forum posts United Kingdom
9 Aug 2013 - 12:01 PM


Quote: Who pays for the risk assessments?

They are part of doing business just like insurance and kit maintenance, you have a legal obligation to assess your risks! As a photographer that cost in terms of moolah and time is negligible and should 99% of the time entail nothing more than saying no we can not take this picture here as the original OP did. Sorted suitable and sufficient.

If you are running a fixed studio then it will entail a little more time and in my professional opinion is that it should be documented, but it is all very simple and should take no more than half a day to create the policy and layout your risks then nothing more than an annual review which for most will be nothing more than reading the document and signing it should nothing change.

mikehit
mikehit  46189 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
9 Aug 2013 - 12:10 PM


Quote: I don't get why that's a complicated notion to grasp.

It's not a hard notion to grasp at all, and I do agree with your comments that too many people equate paperwork with doing the job properly. My point is that the OP was talking about a specific field job and now we are getting discussions about obligations for businesses who employ '5 or more people' which is merely clouding the issue. If a staircase collapsed then I can see the HSE being involved (the hotel being a place of work). But if an accident occurred on public land (an example being the poor bride who drowned) would the HSE be involved? I am not convinced they would but am willing to be corrected.

In my experience the HSE (and many of these much-maligned bodies) are quite practical and common-sense when looking at these situations and are very good at seeing and assessing what was reasonable, and what they see is usually what any sensible person should/could have thought of at the time. And unfortunately level of liability is usually decided in the court which makes it difficult to give definitive advice.

Evertonian
9 Aug 2013 - 12:15 PM

As somebody with a raft of Health and Safety qualifications despite the fact that H&S was not my core role I have no need to look at the HASWA 1974, which in and of itself does specifically require any such thing as a Risk Assessment, you are actually referring to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999!

Me too and what you have quoted is a regulation within Health & safety at Work Act as you should know, so looking at H&SaWA puts you in the picture. One law and many regulations arising.

H&SAW states in general terms that employers have to ensure the health, welfare and safety of all employees and whosoever comes in contact with them in the normal course of their duties. The regulations then tell you what you need to do about a whole raft of functions like Management of Asbestos, guarding of machinery, working in confined spaces, you know them all with your knowledge. So everything arises from the 1974 Act which as you know, is the only LAW that applies. All the rest are regulations.

The comments about written assessments being requested is accurate. In order to ensure the health, welfare and safety of employees when contractors are working on your site or externally, close to you, should an accident occur, you as the employers of the contractor is liable for their actions on your site. Hence the request for written Method Statements and risk assessments to ensure that the contractors will work safely. By doing this you are showing that you are doing your best to comply with the law. As I stated earlier as well as being suitable and satisfactory (HSAWA wording) the written documents should be done in proportion to the size of the job. Big job, lots of assessments, small job small paperwork. Very small jobs can be done by a verbal assessment, like where a locksmith pops into a site to change a lock. ie there is never a need to go overboard.

Last Modified By Evertonian at 9 Aug 2013 - 12:22 PM
llareggub
llareggub  3664 forum posts United Kingdom
9 Aug 2013 - 12:40 PM


Quote:
Me too and what you have quoted is a regulation within Health & safety at Work Act as you should know, so looking at H&SaWA puts you in the picture. One law and many regulations arising.

Thanks for stating something I am more than aware of, this maybe semantics, but you directed me to the HASAWA which in no part mentions Risk Assessments. Had I not have been involved in some way in the industry I could have read the HASAWA from cover to cover and concluded that there was nothing in there and as such you were telling porkie pies Wink

Lets not turn it into a peeing competition, if you disagree with anything I have stated in terms of practical notation then please continue but I have no need to indulge in an 'I know more than you' game.


Quote: I don't get why that's a complicated notion to grasp.
It's not a hard notion to grasp at all, and I do agree with your comments that too many people equate paperwork with doing the job properly. My point is that the OP was talking about a specific field job and now we are getting discussions about obligations for businesses who employ '5 or more people' which is merely clouding the issue. If a staircase collapsed then I can see the HSE being involved (the hotel being a place of work). But if an accident occurred on public land (an example being the poor bride who drowned) would the HSE be involved? I am not convinced they would but am willing to be corrected.


As is usually the way conversations on t'interweb amble from place to place Wink

Had the incident of the Bride drowning occurred in the UK and had the photographer been operating as a business then it would have been a RIDDOR reportable incident, given that it was a fatality then it would have been investigated at some length by the HSE (probably after the police had concluded no foul play). As such, if the HSE concluded that the photographer had not operated in a suitable and sufficient manner and had not fulfilled his duty of care to the client then he could potentially have been prosecuted by the HSE. Lots of if's, but's and maybe's, but in essence the investigating body for such and incident after the police had concluded any 'criminal' investigation would be the HSE.

On a final note, I agree with yours sentiments on much maligned government bodies, most of the problems come from little minds over inflating things like the Health and Safety 'industry' and one of the many reasons I quit working 5 years ago and bought a farm in Rural Hungary... Now no one can tell me how to use my chainsaw Wink

pulsar69
pulsar69  101611 forum posts United Kingdom6 Constructive Critique Points
9 Aug 2013 - 1:28 PM

Thanks all for the comments and information, though i am left a little unsure how much further forward we are !

As per the original post the question i was asking and also the point i was attempting to get across is that not all wedding photographers would do the same as i did in the situation and sometimes i do wonder if i also in the heat of the moment overlook things that could potentially cause legal issues later, we still live very much in a blame and claim environment and we should probably all be more aware of our responsibilities. I would not be unhappy if i had to do a course on HSE or be certificated if it meant that i knew in the future i would not end up losing my career over a silly oversight !

I am glad though that people are in agreement that there does need to be a certain element of risk assesment in our work both field and studio and its not just ' taking photos ' it does not as has been said mean reams of paper work it means 'assessing the risk' of what you are doing.

During a lull during a recent wedding i had one chap come and start talking to me about a recent wedding he was is which was a member of his family. He wanted to know if i was insured and what it covered , i normally am quite careful in these circumstance as you never know where it is leading. It turned out that the photographer had taken the groom and men to a field for some fun shots before the wedding and ended up with the turning up to the church covered in mud, the bride was looking into the potential of suing the photographer for ruining her day and she worked for a solicitor herself. Goodness only knows how that would play out but it just goes to show that people think this way and again is another reason to step back and think of the consequence of the action sometimes.

Another for instance , i quite often like to do the guys jumping in the air off a low step action shot at weddings. However before doing it i ask if anybody has knee back problems etc and say they can sit the shot out rather than having someone injured. An injury could still happen but i have done my best to make sure that the risk is minimal , however it could also then be argued that there was no need to take that shot and i am putting people in danger by doing it ?

Its a mad world of H&S we live in but to ignore it is surely just asking for trouble ?

mikehit
mikehit  46189 forum posts United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
9 Aug 2013 - 1:34 PM

I have never had reason to take out professional photography cover, but most policies I have seen in other areas exclude 'reckless behaviour' and maybe (emphasis) the sort of situation that you are worried about could also be an exclusion under the policy which would give a double whammy.

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