FRONT of HOUSE August 2014 : Page 32

TECH FEATURE By Phil Graham The ESA’s Event Safety Guide – A First Look F or this month’s technical column, we diverge from the more traditional topics of speakers, arrays, electronics, etc., to talk about a topic extremely important to the longevity of the pro audio industry, that of event safety. Safety is a personal topic for me, and that will refect in the writing style of this article. My back-ground lends itself to analysis of multiple safety aspects within the live sound industry. While self-educated in the realm of pro audio, my formal education is in a feld called materials engineer-ing. One aspect of materials engineering is the analysis of loads on objects and how those loads drive the failure of the underlying steel, alumi-num, composites, or other materials. Another aspect of my materials engineering background involved working with chemical re-action systems that utilized potentially dangerous chemicals. In this environment, the use of person-al protective equipment (PPE) was paramount. I have been involved with engineering and safety for a good portion of my adult life. I am the guy who read the full report and appendices when Thornton Tomasetti released their fndings on the Indiana State Fair tragedy. This month, with this personal backdrop in mind, I want to introduce a new U.S.-centric guide published by the Event Safety Alliance for the live sound industry: The Event Safety Guide (ESG) (ISBN 978-1-62914-761-1). The guide is a substantial document, and we will dedicate a bit of space in FRONT of HOUSE to the various topics it covers and what the guide means for the U.S. production in-dustry. • Chapters 9 to 15 focus on the experience of an event attendee. • Chapters 16 to 23 deal with protecting workers on the event site. • Chapters 24 to 27 emphasize show manage-ment. • Chapters 28 to 35 have event specifc content. Beyond these fve sections are additional chap-ters (36 to 39) that function as glossary and refer-ences, followed by appendices such as require-ments for outdoor event structures and a checklist for bomb threats. At a high level, the frst section is an overview of myriad aspects of planning an event, assessing risk and interfacing that planning with the relevant local government entities. Chapter Two delves into things like interfacing with the local authorities, permitting, performing risk assessments and cre-ating a life safety evaluation. While certain aspects of these topics are common sense, this chapter does a thorough job of laying out a full array of topics to evaluate. Chapter Two also outlines the collection of safety documentation and creation of an event log book. Chapter Three covers preparing for emergency planning for a major incident as an overview to be expounded upon in later chapters. Moving on, Chapter Four is a rather nice dis-tillation of useful details and defnitions from the major model fre codes (IFC and NFPA 1). It also provides a brief introductory overview on how the model codes mesh together with externally The Event Safety Guide is available both in traditional text form and a digital edition, which is ideal referenced documents. Chapter Five ofers details for feld reference. for requirements and interfacing with frst aid and other medical personnel. Chapter Six introduces From the viewpoint of FOH readers, a likely critique about the ESG is that it can be more prescriptive rather than descrip-the reader to multiple aspects of communication for event, ›› Size and Tone tive. In practice, this means readers will fnd more about what ranging from open-mic lockout procedures on communi-The Event Safety Guide is the spiritual descendant of the U.K. they should be doing than how to undertake those tasks. In cation radios, to closed circuit surveillance, to scripting an-Purple Guide , formally known as HSG195 and the guiding doc-some ways, this tone is inevitable for a document seeking to nouncements for the attending public. Chapter Seven covers weather planning. Chapter Eight ument for events in the United Kingdom. The ESG is instead cover such a diversity of topics within a reasonable number targeted specifcally as the U.S. market and, as such, the ref-of pages. At the same time, though, the ESG intentionally ref-talks about design of event sites, with a lot of useful infor-erenced codes are specifc to the United States, and include erences external documents with a mindset that the reader mation on topics as diverse as signage, fencing, barricades, references to the National File Protection Agency (NFPA) and should fll in the necessary blanks within the confnes of those event command posts and crowd throughput rates. After outside sources. Since nearly every jurisdiction has diferent these initial eight chapters, the guide continues in similar the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). At 350+ pages in length, with 39 chapters plus appendices, codes cited under law, this was about the only reasonable ap-fashion and tone as it drills down into diferent aspects of the ESG is not something a pro audio practitioner will settle proach the authors of the ESG could have pursued (see side-event safety. As the value of the guide is in the reading, I will not at-in and read in an evening. Similarly, while the guide contains bar discussion). tempt to summarize the content in any detailed way. In-a diversity of practical advice, it is not a “how to” document. deed, with the limited amount of time I have had to digest Instead the tone and scope is more reminiscent of a code ›› Content the guide myself, it would be a disservice to the industry to The ESG is broadly divided into fve sections: document like the National Electrical Code (NEC). Like a code • The frst section (chapters 2 to 8) addresses consider-make such an attempt. Instead, let me put the guide in focus document, the level of detail dictates concerted study over a for FRONT of HOUSE readers and the industry at large. ations common to all events. period of time. Codes in the U.S. – An Aside I n the United States, there is a web of model codes for topics such as electricity, fre or buildings which do not necessarily carry the force of law depending on jurisdiction. Most municipalities adopt certain editions of various codes, and sometimes further add their own modifcations to the model codes. Specifc variants are then codifed into law by each local government. The au-thority having jurisdiction (AHJ) is then responsible for enforcement of whatever variant of the model codes has been legally enshrined. As a result, it is almost impossible to refer to a specifc model code here in FRONT of HOUSE . If we reference NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC) 2014 edition in an article, we have little confdence that it will apply to all locations in the U.S. Thus, the disclaimer of “contact your local AHJ to clarify the code” is more than boilerplate, but rather a necessity of U.S. code structure. As a real-world example from my locality, the 2014 National Electrical Code , in section 625.44, clarifies that a specific type of electric vehicle charger (EVSE Level 2) may be cord-and-plug connected. That is to say these chargers may be run off a NEMA receptacle, like a stan-dard 240-Volt electric dryer plug. However, the city of Atlanta has not adopted the 2014 NEC, and instead uses the 2011 code to interpret that these chargers must be permanently connected to the house wiring. NEC 625.44 was specifically added to the 2014 code cycle to clarify the appropriateness of cord-and-plug vehicle chargers, but since the 2014 code cycle is not legally binding in Atlanta, the city has not updated its permitting require-ments. The result is a more expensive charger installa-tion procedure for consumers that own electric vehicles. Examples like this abound across the country, and result in innumerable small headaches in pro audio and be-yond. It is best to get in front of these concerns with your AHJ before doing an event in an unfamiliar environment. —P.G. 32 AUGUST 2014 • fohonline.com

TECH FEATURE

Phil Graham


The ESA’s Event Safety Guide – A First Look

For this month’s technical column, we diverge from the more traditional topics of speakers, arrays, electronics, etc., to talk about a topic extremely important to the longevity of the pro audio industry, that of event safety.

Safety is a personal topic for me, and that will reflect in the writing style of this article. My background lends itself to analysis of multiple safety aspects within the live sound industry. While self-educated in the realm of pro audio, my formal education is in a field called materials engineering. One aspect of materials engineering is the analysis of loads on objects and how those loads drive the failure of the underlying steel, aluminum, composites, or other materials.

Another aspect of my materials engineering background involved working with chemical reaction systems that utilized potentially dangerous chemicals. In this environment, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) was paramount. I have been involved with engineering and safety for a good portion of my adult life. I am the guy who read the full report and appendices when Thornton Tomasetti released their findings on the Indiana State Fair tragedy.

This month, with this personal backdrop in mind, I want to introduce a new U.S.-centric guide published by the Event Safety Alliance for the live sound industry: The Event Safety Guide (ESG) (ISBN 978-1-62914-761-1). The guide is a substantial document, and we will dedicate a bit of space in FRONT of HOUSE to the various topics it covers and what the guide means for the U.S. production industry.

Size and Tone
The Event Safety Guide is the spiritual descendant of the U.K. Purple Guide, formally known as HSG195 and the guiding document for events in the United Kingdom. The ESG is instead targeted specifically as the U.S. market and, as such, the referenced codes are specific to the United States, and include references to the National File Protection Agency (NFPA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

At 350+ pages in length, with 39 chapters plus appendices, the ESG is not something a pro audio practitioner will settle in and read in an evening. Similarly, while the guide contains a diversity of practical advice, it is not a “how to” document. Instead the tone and scope is more reminiscent of a code document like the National Electrical Code (NEC). Like a code document, the level of detail dictates concerted study over a period of time.

From the viewpoint of FOH readers, a likely critique about the ESG is that it can be more prescriptive rather than descriptive. In practice, this means readers will find more about what they should be doing than how to undertake those tasks. In some ways, this tone is inevitable for a document seeking to cover such a diversity of topics within a reasonable number of pages. At the same time, though, the ESG intentionally references external documents with a mindset that the reader should fill in the necessary blanks within the confines of those outside sources. Since nearly every jurisdiction has different codes cited under law, this was about the only reasonable approach the authors of the ESG could have pursued (see sidebar discussion).

Content

The ESG is broadly divided into five sections:
• The first section (chapters 2 to 8) addresses considerations common to all events.
• Chapters 9 to 15 focus on the experience of an event attendee.
• Chapters 16 to 23 deal with protecting workers on the event site.
• Chapters 24 to 27 emphasize show management.
• Chapters 28 to 35 have event specific content.

Beyond these five sections are additional chapters (36 to 39) that function as glossary and references, followed by appendices such as requirements for outdoor event structures and a checklist for bomb threats.

At a high level, the first section is an overview of myriad aspects of planning an event, assessing risk and interfacing that planning with the relevant local government entities. Chapter Two delves into things like interfacing with the local authorities, permitting, performing risk assessments and creating a life safety evaluation. While certain aspects of these topics are common sense, this chapter does a thorough job of laying out a full array of topics to evaluate. Chapter Two also outlines the collection of safety documentation and creation of an event log book. Chapter Three covers preparing for emergency planning for a major incident as an overview to be expounded upon in later chapters.

Moving on, Chapter Four is a rather nice distillation of useful details and definitions from the major model fire codes (IFC and NFPA 1). It also provides a brief introductory overview on how the model codes mesh together with externally referenced documents. Chapter Five offers details for requirements and interfacing with first aid and other medical personnel. Chapter Six introduces the reader to multiple aspects of communication for event, ranging from open-mic lockout procedures on communication radios, to closed circuit surveillance, to scripting announcements for the attending public.

Chapter Seven covers weather planning. Chapter Eight talks about design of event sites, with a lot of useful information on topics as diverse as signage, fencing, barricades, event command posts and crowd throughput rates. After these initial eight chapters, the guide continues in similar fashion and tone as it drills down into different aspects of event safety.

As the value of the guide is in the reading, I will not attempt to summarize the content in any detailed way. Indeed, with the limited amount of time I have had to digest the guide myself, it would be a disservice to the industry to make such an attempt. Instead, let me put the guide in focus for FRONT of HOUSE readers and the industry at large.

The ESG in Context
Is the Event Safety Guide for you? Unquestionably, the answer is yes! Now that this guide exists, it will begin to work its way into the field execution of practical event set up and operation. I can see it becoming a required study text for IATSE members; and eventually, it might conceivably carry the weight of law in certain contexts. Further, as the authors address directly in the introduction, the guide will have the ancillary effect of defining a roadmap for liability. Surely, as time goes on, the ESG will increase in importance for the industry.

Does this mean every FRONT of HOUSE reader should go out and buy a copy of the guide? Probably not. A document like the ESG is only as good as the digestion of its contents, and buying a copy to sit on a shelf is of little gain. In each context the audio professional should determine who, and how, to digest and retain the ESG for the benefit of their venue, production house, band, church, school, event, tour, etc. If you are a company principal, shop foreman, production manager, touring professional, crew lead, etc. I would implore you to take the lead in purchasing ESGs and coordinating how your team will work through the contents.

Virtually every professional field of practice has documents and/or codes like the Event Safety Guide. The guidelines, codes, and checklists represent an important backstop against the inevitable brain farts that come along with being human, and as such improve the quality of the delivered product. I have personally interacted with documents like the ESG in several fields of engineering. They are always dense with content, and the style ranges from dry to serious. In short, until you get used to working with them, they can start off a daunting read. I say that up front as an admonishment that working through the ESG, or any other standards and codes gets easier and more interesting as one continues to study further.

The Next Step
One more trade organization and a 350-page manuscript are not going to make the pro audio industry safer for workers and patrons. Only the ready practice of the content released by an organization like the Event Safety Alliance will drive the industry’s improved safety. As an industry, pro audio would be well served to improve its safety record voluntarily before government entities decide to push those improvements via additional legislation. The Event Safety Guide is a solid first step toward a unified safety approach for the live audio industry, and a document overdue for those wishing to support live events with maximum levels of professionalism and safety.

Phil Graham is FOH’s regular technical contributor and resident scientist. Email him at: pgraham@fohonline.com.

Codes in the U.S. – An Aside
In the United States, there is a web of model codes for topics such as electricity, fire or buildings which do not necessarily carry the force of law depending on jurisdiction. Most municipalities adopt certain editions of various codes, and sometimes further add their own modifications to the model codes. Specific variants are then codified into law by each local government. The authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) is then responsible for enforcement of whatever variant of the model codes has been legally enshrined. As a result, it is almost impossible to refer to a specific model code here in FRONT of HOUSE. If we reference NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC) 2014 edition in an article, we have little confidence that it will apply to all locations in the U.S. Thus, the disclaimer of “contact your local AHJ to clarify the code” is more than boilerplate, but rather a necessity of U.S. code structure.

As a real-world example from my locality, the 2014 National Electrical Code, in section 625.44, clarifies that a specific type of electric vehicle charger (EVSE Level 2) may be cord-and-plug connected. That is to say these chargers may be run off a NEMA receptacle, like a standard 240-Volt electric dryer plug. However, the city of Atlanta has not adopted the 2014 NEC, and instead uses the 2011 code to interpret that these chargers must be permanently connected to the house wiring. NEC 625.44 was specifically added to the 2014 code cycle to clarify the appropriateness of cord-and-plug vehicle chargers, but since the 2014 code cycle is not legally binding in Atlanta, the city has not updated its permitting requirements. The result is a more expensive charger installation procedure for consumers that own electric vehicles. Examples like this abound across the country, and result in innumerable small headaches in pro audio and beyond. It is best to get in front of these concerns with your AHJ before doing an event in an unfamiliar environment. —P.G.

NFPA Offers Free Online Access to Codes
As part of its commitment to enhancing public safety, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) makes its codes and standards available online to the public for free, including NFPA 70, the 2014 edition of the National Electric Code.

This online access to essential NFPA’s documents conveniently places important safety information on the desktops and laptops of traditional users as well as others who have a keen interest. NFPA is committed to serving the public’s increasing interest in technical information, and online access to these key codes is a valuable resource.

The print edition of the 2014 National Electric Code is $92, and although online access is provided at no charge, there are some restrictions. Access is provided via a read-only site — documents cannot be downloaded or printed, because the NFPA relies on the revenues from people who want to possess their own copies of its various code and standards publications to fund the mission of the organization. But for users who need to familiarize themselves with a code, or verify a requirement or check a fact or technique from the field using any browser with an Internet-connected laptop, desktop, tablet or smart phone, this kind of access is invaluable.

Other web-accessible code/standards publications that directly affect performance venues, house of worship facilities and other installations include the: NFPA 1, Fire Code; NFPA 3, Recommended Practice for Commissioning of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems; NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers; NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code; NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives; NFPA110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems; NFPA 140, Standard on Motion Picture and Television Production Studio Soundstages, Approved Production Facilities, and Production Locations; NFPA 160, Standard for the Use of Flame Effects Before an Audience; NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems; and more than 100 additional publications on other safety-related topics. And as noted, the NFPA 70 National Electric Code is web-accessible as well.

Access is simple. From the NFPA’s website, view the full list of available codes and standards, select the document (and edition) you want to review, and click the “Free Access” link. To see the document in read-only format, the user needs to create a short profle (or simply sign in as a returning user).

For more info, visit the National Fire Protection Association at nfpa.org/freeaccess. —George Petersen

Read the full article at http://digitaleditiononline.com/article/TECH+FEATURE/1782151/220670/article.html.

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