Health & safety for theatres & performers

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Some pointers for where to start on Health & Safety

The phrase ‘Health & Safety’ is used in a variety of ways but mostly as  a way of dissuading performers & technicians from a course of actions when ill informed managers can’t present a reasoned argument. Most reasons are ill-founded – hopefully this page will provide the means for you to be better informed.

What is on this page?

I’ve collected over the course of the last 20 years a small selection of sources that can provide most of the information that’s needed for you to gain an appreciation for Health & Safety. So that this information is at it’s most current, there are links to other sites where you can find documentation. Clicking on the links below will send you to a website with the original guide or downloadable document.

This should ensure:

  • the document will be the most up to date version
  • if a web page – it’s hopefully the most up to date information

If you know of a website that’s not listed and you think might be useful as a resource for others, then please let me know.


The Blue room link

An online forum for backstage technicians making it a good starting point for theatre/backstage technicians.

The UK Health & Safety Executive – link

The UK’s official watchdog/regulator for Health & Safety legislation that applies in the UK. It’s a good starting point if Google doesn’t find it first.

Association of British Theatre Technicians – link

A professional organisation for British Theatre technicians that composes many of the guidelines & standards for backstage theatre in the UK.

Professional Lighting & Sound Association (PLASA) – link

An industry led professional organisation for the entertainment industry with many well-known names as members. Many PLASA technical standards are worldwide accepted practice or embodied in legislation.

Bryan & Armstrong – Health And Safety In Broadcasting And The Performing Arts – link

Health & Safety recruitment specialists with a good insightful article in to Health & Safety in performing arts with some good pointers to starting a conversation about this often tricky subject.

Online documents & Guides

Volunteering:How to manage the risks – link

From the HSE for organisations that rely on volunteers to operate, an overview of your duties & responsibility

Electrical safety at places of Entertainment – link

A guide that outlines the main risks with electrical equipment used at places of entertainment and steps that can be taken to prevent electrical danger. It can be read by venue owners and their performing visitors. Source: UK HSE

Electrical Safety for entertainers – link

Contains some of the guidance in “Electrical safety at places of Entertainment” but presents examples of potential risks with sound & lighting equipment and also imported equipment. Source: UK HSE

Maintaining portable electrical equipment – link

Do you have control over or use portable electrical equipment? This is for managers, electricians, technicians & gives sensible advice on maintaining portable electrical equipment to prevent danger. Source: UK HSE

Smoke & Vapour effects – link

Aimed at production organisations, employees and freelancers who may use smoke and vapour effects at work. Source: UK HSE

Management of Firearms & weapons in Film and TV – link

Primarily aimed at Film and television production, some of the advice is useful to theatres who want to use firearm replica’s onstage. There are many apocryphal stories about confiscate props or mistaken arrests, hopefully this document will start you on the right path. Source: UK HSE

Health & Safety in Theatre – link

A webpage from the Health & Safety Executive that covers the basics of working at height and manual handling in theatre. Source: UK HSE

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