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Rock n Roll touring vs H&S

Just Some Bloke

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I remember a band leaving Nottingham (Royal Centre?) and not getting to Newcastle because of a coach crash put down to poor driving conditions and a tired driver so there is already adverse history.


There has been a RTC where one driver had already done an 18 hour day and been doing that for weeks but his work provider was threatened with a life sentence for the deaths caused in the incident. Precedent is set for serious penalties for providers of unreasonable work to self employed people to be held responsible.

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Pedants'R'Us return.

The Health and Safety at Work Act states that;

People in control of non-domestic premises have a duty (under section 4 of the Act) towards people who are not their employees but use their premises.

The Management of HASAW regulations reinforce that and makes the venue management responsible for Risk Assessing the work including that of visiting workers. It then goes on to place a duty on the venue management to reduce that risk as far as is reasonably practicable. If that risk arises from fatigue it must be addressed whether that fatigue be of an employee, contractor or visitor.


If you make the RA then you are most likely that responsible person and if it all goes belly up you will carry at least part of the blame. If the responsible person fails to ensure that the visiting worker is fit to work they share responsibility for anything untoward.


There are still worker's rights to breaks and rest days and there is still the WTD. Let's not throw them away before politics takes them off us.

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Pedants'R'Us return.


If the responsible person fails to ensure that the visiting worker is fit to work they share responsibility for anything untoward.


<Devil's Advocate>


Let's say there's an accident in someone's venue. The direct cause is a mistake by touring crew, but questions are asked of the venue staff and management.


If fatigue is a factor, then how does the "responsible person" prove that they checked everyone was fit to work?


There's no empirical test for tiredness, and if you quiz them about their schedule, they will learn to lie about it.

There'd need to be an industry-wide clocking in system, an equivalent of tachographs, and without legal enforcement it just wouldn't work.


You could make the argument that a tired rigger has similar capacity for catastrophe as a tired truck driver so it's probably not horribly disproportionate.


</Devil's Advocate>

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<Devil's Advocate>


You could make the argument that a tired rigger has similar capacity for catastrophe as a tired truck driver so it's probably not horribly disproportionate.


</Devil's Advocate>


Do other industries have these issues? You hear about medical staff working very long hours - do they make more mistakes when tired, like a rigger might? Are there regulations around surgeons and doctors (or indeed other professionals) that make it a 'solved problem', as it were, that we could adopt in our industry?


It'd also be interesting to consider the self-employed:employed ratio for these industries; are truck drivers, construction workers, surgeons etc mostly freelance?

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You hear about medical staff working very long hours - do they make more mistakes when tired, like a rigger might?


There has been some work on this, it used to be that 100+hr weeks were common for Junior Doctors, but most posts now follow the european working time directive.

It involved some cultural change too - the long shifts were seen as a rite of passage by senior staff.


I suspect that our industry has a particular problem because of the perceived glamour and excitement. You don't catch many in, for example, the building trade pulling those kind of hours - they all clock off at 4pm on the dot in my experience. However if a young engineer has got his (or her) first touring gig, and objects to the hours, you can bet they'd be instantly replaced with another bright-eyed hopeful.


The problem isn't just related to rock'n'roll, small self-driving theatre tours can be equally demanding. I have a friend who has been put off getting a driving licence because he knows that the minute he passes his test he'll be handed the keys to a splitter van and sent off on tour. The lack of licence has meant that the promoters have had to hire a separate person to do the driving which has suited him just fine.

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<Devil's Advocate>


You could make the argument that a tired rigger has similar capacity for catastrophe as a tired truck driver so it's probably not horribly disproportionate.


</Devil's Advocate>


Do other industries have these issues? You hear about medical staff working very long hours - do they make more mistakes when tired, like a rigger might? Are there regulations around surgeons and doctors (or indeed other professionals) that make it a 'solved problem', as it were, that we could adopt in our industry?


It'd also be interesting to consider the self-employed:employed ratio for these industries; are truck drivers, construction workers, surgeons etc mostly freelance?

Yes, as a middle level hospital doctor.


EWTD - 48hr averaged over 17weeks. 11hr break between shifts. 24hr on-call's are allowed if scheduled to be off site on call for majority of it. No more than 5 nightshifts in a row (in NHS scotland) etc.

Clear evidence of poor decision making


e.g. see Anaesthesia link

In particular

20 hours of wakefulness can cause impaired performance

equivalent to being over the UK legal driving limit for alcohol.

See also Fatigue toolkit

Finally there's an editorial from a Sleep Physician at https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2017/10/06/michael-farquhar-we-must-recognise-the-health-effects-associated-with-shift-working/

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I started out in theatre and have moved in to Rock and Roll so find myself as an interpreter between the two ways of working!!


I live on a tour bus for a lot of the time so feel I can put that side across. Im taking the scale of show that could turn up in your ATG venue as well as concert halls Etc. Some named artists and some large scale tributes.


A typical day..... 10AM load in. 8PM show, 1 Artic.


Set alarm for 9.30

Get up, Dressed and head into the venue to use the loo, Brush teeth etc.


10AM Open truck, tip LX. Then rig All overhead LX.


11.30AM go for breakfast whilst the rest of the crew tip PA and Backline.


12.15PM return to put floor package out (theatre crew will have had there tea break)


1PM focus generics with the venue lx. Then sit at the desk and do positions etc.


2.30PM done. Go for lunch/ sight seeing. Back at the venue for 7.30


4PM sound check for half an hour ( LX dont need to be there)


7.30 doors


8PM gig.


10.30PM load out


12AM Shower in the venue.


12.30AM back on the tour bus.



So with this lifestyle you get 5 hours off in the afternoon that you can fit a really good nap into! A lot of crew will pop off after soundcheck for a hours nap.

You also finish work and are insanely "home" there is no travelling to and from work. When I worked in theatre as casual crew I was an hours drive away. There are 9 clear hours from getting back on the bus to my alarm going off. Plenty of time to have a couple of beers and a good nights sleep.

And as for 6 day weeks, Ive never done a tour that has 6 in a row. 5 is the most I've done and that was a stretch! Its normally 3 on then day off. Sometimes 4 sometimes 2. This tour I've just done went gig- day off- gig - day off - gig gig - day off 2 gigs in the same venue- day off then 4 in a row.



So I understand that there are tours out there that have 2 guys in a van doing way to much driving and I do think that needs sorting but as soon as proper tour busses are involved with beds in then Im always happy with the amount of sleep I can get.


As a contrast when I was a casual I would do 10 till finish ( for the schedule above) but have to leave my house at 8.30 to drive to the venue. Then do there load in. Hang about all afternoon with nothing to do, Then load out. Finish at 12.30am Drive home, so in bed for 2AM, then I might have a different job at a different venue at 9am the next day. There is nothing to stop that and in the low paid theatre casual world then the not saying no thing applies as well!

You have no way of knowing what your theatre crew do in there spare time!


Another strange one, and I've been meaning to pop on here and get peoples thoughts for a while, is the number of crew we get which is massively inconsistent and plays a big part in how people see Rock and Roll. ( should be a new thread??)


If our rider says 4 crew what we get varies between theatre and Gig venues.


Theatre we will get 4 crew, One will be LX one sound, A Flyman and a casual who will end up loading. So when I fly stuff I loose 2 people up stairs and the other 2 help rig lights. On the load out when everyone is working at the same time I still loose 2 people, but Backline need some one on the truck and PA need help and the multicores need doing so its never enough.


In a gig venue or concert hall (apart from Nottingham) you get 4 Crew from a crew company who are there to tip the truck and generally do stuff. you then get an LX guy to sort power and stuff and a stage manager who will fly in truss etc (and no flyman needed) and maybe even a PA guy. So we have almost double the crew but the rider has been interpreted differently.


As a theatre person I understand why there is a flyman and a loader but the rock and roll PA guy dosent and is getting grumpy that there is no one to help him! and then the theatre crew feel like they are being pulled in 3 different directions.

I have just about got through to the promotor that if we are in a Counterweight theatre then we need to ask for 6 crew. but if you just change the rider to 6 then we will have way to many people in concert halls!


It all gets very confusing and rock and roll think theatre is slow and theatre think rock and roll is all shouty!


What would your venue supply if the rider said 4 local crew?


Long post.... Ive not been on here for a couple of years!!



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Interesting post Pete.


Like you I work between theatres and concert venues and things are different in each. Where I am now, if you asked for 4 crew you would get 2 house crew to advise on rigging, power, lx etc. free of charge plus we would quote the promoter for 4 'local crew' (provided by a crewing company) which would be re-charged. Normally the promoters would sign this off, but occasionally they would push back and ask for the house crew to be included in the list of "crew" so they would only need 2 local crew. We tend to discourage this as our own guys do have their own jobs to do, not least of which is keeping an eye out for safety issues.


My current venue is kind half way between a theatre and a mini-arena so we get arena tours coming in saying how diddy the place is as well as theatre tours saying how massive it is! The smaller theatre shows will quite often say they only need the in-house crew, as that's all they are used to, but the rock and rolly type shows like to chuck people at it and ask for up to 20 local crew to de-rig the kit and load the trucks.



Your schedule for a day is about right for a lot of the shows we get in, but the bigger ones can easily start at 8 and go on to 1 the next morning. Also, the life of the lampy can easily be a lot lighter than the noise boy who comes in at the beginning of the day to work on his laptop to design the rig, then builds the rig, then sets it up, then helps the monitor guy set up mics and line check, then soundchecks the main band, then soundchecks the support band, then gets half an hour while the audience come in, then does the show, then does the get-out. No long break for sightseeing in the afternoon for them!



Your comments on theatre casuals are interesting, as you bring out the fact that someone working at more than one venue could easily be racking up ridiculous numbers of hours too. Again, I wonder how long this can go on? If you're working on the loading gallery above fly floor 10m in the air and drop a weight because you're tired, that could be fatal too.

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Related to Pete's accurate rundown of a potential touring schedule, time was when LX was lounging back at the bus as soon as the PAR colour washes were looking even vaguely together. Chill until show time, bang thru a few colours during the show and then start the load out.


Now a lot more of that lampie downtime has been replaced by integrating show files, networking snagging fixture modes, and potentially endless 'fiddling' with the programming.


Modern systems mean that the risk of never being 'done' is much greater. It's all too easy to keep poking stuff right up until doors.




PS RnR crews do indeed think theatre people are slow and inefficient, while the theatre types see RnR crews as loud and slapdash. It's funny for those of us that straddled both worlds.

Edited by indyld
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As another ex-theatre tech turned bus-dwelling slapdash monster...


Pete's schedules are pretty accurate. The tour rigger will spend time in the afternoon asleep, and also advancing the venues.

Other departments come in later, and finish earlier.

Early departments tend to get earlier finishes, and as a rule it's all done by 2, so sound check, fire marshal inspections, and other things can take place in the afternoon.

Caterers get it the worst, but are sometimes done long before the show finishes so have an increased rest period there.


The big thing I've experienced in 10 years of arena and stadium touring is that personally, and I might have been lucky, the worst I've ever had to do is three cities in a row. So, Hotel in city 1, wake up, check out, load in, show, load out, bus, city 2, bus, city 3, bus - hotel.

So the long hours, and they are typically 17-18 hours from waking up to going to bed, BUT with a few hours in the afternoon where there's rest, only last three days.


More often than not I've done a maximum of two back to backs in a row with a day of no heavy lifting, dark noisy rooms in between. Now these days are spent sometimes driving 10-23 hours on a bus to the next city, but I am not working as such.


So, working four days in seven, and being paid to not work the other three, isn't too bad, and is possibly better than the casual staff or local crew who service a busy venue.


If the schedules and start/finish times are tight and as a department you are concerned about this, I've also found in concert touring, that if you bring this up, then productions are frequently prepared to listen and change the plan. Sending one of two tour riggers ahead missing the load out to make sure they are rested and ready when trucks roll in, adding extra touring crew in departments that need it, hiring a second rigging package and team, so productions walk into motors each venue, adding sections of a tour that travel in advance, all things I've seen done to make sure things are ready, safely, in the time available.


Noise wise, the majority of shows I work provide heavy duty comms headsets to block the show sound, run mostly on IEM setups for backline, band and monitors, and most of us invested in our own choice of decent hearing protection a long time ago. The incredibly directional nature of modern PA systems means there is a noticeable drop in level behind the boxes.


From the inside, it's not as bad as it looks.


Most bits of a large music show set travel in carts that roll in and out of trucks, forklifted or rolled onto loading docks. That beats the old days of carrying all the flattage, and every other element, up a ramp into the back of a matthews trailer and waiting while it's tied off, or holding the stack of show floor plywood so it doesn't fall in the truck...

Local crewing numbers are often higher, I will get typically four local hands to myself to help do my work each day, which means I'm mostly directing rather than doing, which helps.


I'll finish with the thoughts of theatre 'proddies' Back in the day, they used to move a show. I know they still do, but I don't know if it's like it was. 12 years ago they'd load out a show, taking 6 hours or more, drive to the next theatre, and start loading it in. Or in some cases, they'd get a tour bus. Definitely not all, and not on some of the 'bigger' productions of the time either. Same guys both ends of the move, with little to no sleep inbetween. Sounds a lot like the safety worries people have about Rock & Roll type touring...

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  • 1 month later...

Some of the issues raised in this topic are in the news today. The combination of circumstances involved can easily be extrapolated to fatigue issues in our business.

The victim was a "Freelance-type" on zero hours contract who was not only fatigued physically but possibly emotionally. The work was understaffed and the sub-contractor failed to draft in a replacement or manage the situation safely. The main employer, Network Rail, had laid down specific terms of contract which the sub-contractor and worker both failed to comply with.

“When workers are employed on a casual basis on zero-hours contracts, there can be great pressure for them to try and juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet.

“The possible effects of such patterns of employment on fatigue and fitness for work are significant. We are therefore recommending that the railway industry reviews the way it manages the use of staff on zero-hours contracts.”


We don't yet know what the final outcome will be but note that Network Rail face "huge fines" because they failed to enforce those contract terms. This is the same as a venue which told tours that they demanded certain conditions from visiting staff would still be prosecuted if they did not enforce those terms. How venues do it is not under consideration, the law says "do it!"

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Yesterday's RAIB report is very similar, regarding a tube driver who left the doors open between two stations for 56 seconds off 'full speed' running.

A passenger pulled the alarm, but that doesn't stop a tube train, only alerts the driver so they continued on until the next station regardless.


It was very lucky that the train was almost empty. If it had happened on a busy time/section then somebody would almost certainly have fallen out.


BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-48936731


RAIB report: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/report-062019-train-travelling-with-doors-open-on-the-jubilee-line?utm_source=3ed976bc-6e62-4b0e-a947-0b508fe045b8&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

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When is the day too long? If you are an employee, then your hours will be human. When you are on a day rate, or fee for the job, end to end it's very much different. I have a rule that says if I cannot be home for midnight, then they pay for a hotel. great but I've broken this rule so many times recently because budgets are tight, nil hotels available, or unexpected late ends that I'm starting too worry. I cannot drive safely past midnight now unless I stop every twenty or so miles. luckily, we've discovered this short-term driver insurance that is cheap enough to use on my van. one of the others pays a few quid and drives. This was never possible before, but now this seems to work - but last week I got into bed at 3.30am, then was up at 7am to be at a different venue for 8am. I then worked through to around ten PM. I really can't do this now - just too old, but I have no real alternative, just how the diary works and frankly, the money is important. I just cannot do 15 hour days any longer. What gets me is the driving afterwards - this is where I worry. Being up and active is fine, but it makes me unsafe on the road.
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