The Dangers of Production Crew Carrying out More than One Job Function
All too often in music and live events industry, we see production crew “doubling-up” or even “tripling up” of roles to reduce costs or budgets. At the lower end of the market we see drivers also taking on the role of sound engineer or backline tech or tour manager, two or even three jobs but only one set of wages. Great if you’re a manager or band member responsible for wages but not at all good from a safety perspective.
Just take a look at the Facebook UK touring crew page and the Vans and Drivers page from the same web site to see the number of jobs advertised for drivers who are also required to do FOH sound, Tour Manage, backline, sell merchandise etc. often three jobs and only one wage.
A driver must only have that role as they need to rest and recuperate whilst not driving. They may not be driving a vehicle with a tachograph but a simple risk assessment is still required and this will almost certainly indicate if a driver has exceeded his safe working hours.
At higher levels, we have the Production, Site or Tour Managers also trying to be the Health and Safety Advisors. Again, adopting two roles but only one set of wages and certainly not at all good from a safety perspective.
Having once been a production and a tour manager before becoming a safety advisor I come from an informed place. I can say with some knowledge and experience that it is almost impossible to do these two jobs safely and effectively as they should be done at the same time. It’s a major conflict of interest. In the event of a major incident at an event, the safety advisor may have to operate from Gold control while the production or site manager will need to be in his or her normal position on site.
How can anyone such as a production or site manager carry out monitoring, write an audit or prepare an independent and unbiased safety report about employees, contractors or freelancers involved in any incident if they were also responsible for appointing those employees, contractors or freelancers?
Multitasking increases the chance of making mistakes.
Trying to do more than one thing at a time—especially anything potentially dangerous—seriously compromises our ability to complete tasks safely. Multitasking can lead to decreased accuracy, impaired judgment and increased reaction time.
While it might seem like you are accomplishing many things at once, research has shown that our brains are not nearly as good at handling multiple tasks as we like to think we are. In fact, some researchers suggest that multitasking can actually reduce productivity by as much as 40%.
It’s time that event and tour organisers became realistic about their budgets and requirements and include safety in their estimates. The budget controllers must stop gambling with people’s safety and lives. Tour and production managers should accept that the show or tour is what it is for the budget and not try to make it all bells and whistles, you can’t have a Rolls Royce if you can only afford a Fiat 500.
We all have to work and earn a living but doing two or more jobs on tour or at a gig is irresponsible. Both the tour and production managers that propagate this kind of employment and the staff that take those multiple roles on are putting both themselves and others at risk.
Published in collaboration with STAGESAFE, Chris Hannam, CMIOSH, FIIRSM, AMIIAI