1.1 The object of the Code of Practice is to give guidance to Ground Managements, Event Promoters, Local Authorities, Gardaí, Health Boards and technical and professional specialists to assist them in assessing how patrons can be accommodated safely within a sports ground or other outdoor venues used for pop concerts and other musical events. The Code of Practice for Safety at Sports Grounds’ outlines measures for improving safety at sports grounds and many of these measures, with certain modifications, will apply to pop concerts.
1.2 The safety of the public in places of assembly is the responsibility of those who organise the event and who administer or own the ground or venue in which it is held. This arises from the common law duty of care owed by those in charge of the venue to the patrons who pay to attend the event. It is the joint responsibility of the Ground Management and the Promoter to ensure that standards and requirements for safety at pop concerts are strictly observed before, during and after the event. The division of responsibilities between Ground Management and the Promoter of the concert should be clearly defined, agreed and recorded before the event: this must include public liability and other relevant insurances. In this Code of Practice the person responsible for safety at the concert will be referred to as the Promoter.
1.3 The Guidelines in this Code will not restrict in any way the right of statutory bodies to insist on certain conditions being met which are not covered by this Code if they consider it reasonable to do so. This Code is an aid to technical and professional specialists. It is not a substitute for professional judgement and common sense.
1.4 The problems associated with pop concerts are not unlike those experienced at sporting events. These relate to underfoot conditions, crowd pressures, emergency evacuation, danger of fire and possible structural failure. Significant additional dangers arise at pop concerts from crowd pressures at front-of-stage. These dangers can be overcome by good site management, care, maintenance, taking fire precautions and applying the standards set out in this Code of Practice and, where applicable, the Code of Practice for Safety at Sports Grounds.1
1.5 Sports grounds are frequently used as venues for pop concerts because of their relatively large capacity and the ease of monitoring the attendance. The suitability of a stadium for sports events does not automatically mean that it will be equally suitable for a pop concert. The crowd at a sports event is relatively static during the event and is accommodated in sections of the stadium which have their own ingress and egress systems. Crowds at pop concerts and other musical events are usually mobile having access to most parts of the ground including the playing pitch.
Consequently, while entrances can be controlled there is less control over egress. Specific arrangements will be required regarding ingress to and egress from the pitch area, toilet accommodation and stewarding. The method of determination of crowd capacity will have to he reappraised.
1.6 The nature of the entertainment provided at concerts has changed considerably over the years. Such changes present special problems which impinge on safety. These include the materials used for scenery and decoration, special stage effects, audience participation, crushing near the stage, effects of over excitement and, quite often, hysteria among younger audiences.
1.7 In addition to that of spectators, the health and safety of performers, stewards and those engaged in organising the event must be catered for in accordance with the provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act. 1989.2
1.8 Throughout this Code all references to pop concerts will include other outdoor musical events. A pop concert is defined as an event at which music is performed by an artist(s) before a live audience. It can consist of Pop or other types of music. A pop festival consists of a series of such events extending over successive days.
1.9 While this Code is designed for outdoor pop concerts the parameters for the good organisation of an indoor pop concert are basically similar to outdoor events. These include proper preplanning of the event, organisation and staffing including stewarding, the stage, safe holding capacity, front of stage barriers, noise, traffic management, entry to premises, spectators with disabilities, crowd management, means of escape and exit routes, medical facilities, first-aid and ambulances, emergency planning, fire precautions and safety measures, temporary structures, public address system, sanitary accommodation, electrical installation, auxiliary power and emergency lighting, sale of food, etc.
1.10 While primarily designed for pop concerts certain elements of the guidance in this Code may be useful in assessing safety aspects at other events where large crowds have to be accommodated. Useful guidance is contained in a recent UK publication.3
1. Code of Practice for Safety at Sports Grounds, Stationery Office, Dublin, 1996.
2. Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989, Stationery Office, Dublin.
3. Code of Practice for Outdoor Events, other than Pop Concerts and Raves, The National Outdoor Events Association, Wallington, England, 1993.