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The new Green Guide

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The new Green Guide

25 Oct 2018

The new ‘Green Guide’, (Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds 6), the Sports Grounds Safety Authority’s (SGSA) guide to the Safety at Sports Grounds Act will be published in October 2018 . 

Whilst it is only intended to be relevant to sports grounds, it has wide applicability in the events industry generally and some of the changes, both around the physical aspects and safety management  could be a harbinger of a shift in thinking on event safety and crowd management generally.

Probably the most important change is that the Ground Safety Officer will now have responsibility for the safety and security of all people present not just spectators.  Outside the SGSA’s remit the requirement for a professional safety and security officer is only an implied legal duty of care and considered best practice rather than being required (de facto) by law as it is for sports grounds with a Safety Certificate under the 1975 Safety at Sports Grounds Act.  Also, in most venue based events the organiser/promoter takes the lead on safety with the venue safety staff playing a supporting role.  The strengthening  of the Ground Safety Officer’s role in this way as the single ultimate authority poses the question as to whether this model should be applied to other high risk events especially where large crowds are involved.  The sports ground will also have to take the lead when considering ‘Zone Ex’ i.e. the area immediately outside the stadium.  In terms of emergencies the concept of ‘invacuation’ and variations on the need to simply evacuate has been introduced - termed ‘exceptional evacuation’. Other new sections include crowd modelling and crowd flows, fire engineering, management of concourses, and the inclusion of new technology in smart stadia.

The review of the guide has highlighted the need to address the issue of persistent standing in areas designed for seating where there is no barrier in front of spectators to prevent them falling or being pushed forwards.  Various seating/standing designs have been considered but the law does not permit standing in venues in the top two divisions in England and Wales.  This issue is being reviewed at ministerial level but is obviously too late to be included in the guide.  However, whatever the outcome of the review, the issue can no longer be ignored and this has implications for any stadium or arena with tiered seating where persistent standing is an issue since it would be hard to defend not taking action when the sports grounds industry is doing so.

 

The existence of the SGSA and the Green Guide are ultimately underpinned by Act of Parliament which is not replicated elsewhere in the events industry so comparisons of the Green Guide with other industry guidance must be viewed in that context.  However, those parts of the events industry which do publish or endorse safety guidance should review the new document for applicable lessons.  Perhaps the most applicable point is the recognition by the SGSA of important shifts in the legal, socio/political and technological environment in which we operate and the need to reflect those changes in current official guidance.

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