Embarking on an outing to the theatre is usually not synonymous with danger, and most people probably don’t think of going to the theatre as especially risky, however, the team at The PumpHouse spend a lot of time working with producers and performers making sure everyone stays safe and has a good time.
We asked James and Mark to answer some questions about Health and Safety at The PumpHouse. Mark is our Health and Safety representative, and as the manager, James has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring everyone is safe.
What’s the most dangerous thing at The PumpHouse?
James: Without a doubt, it would have to be the lighting rig – it’s hard to get to, you are working up high, and if you drop something it will hurt anyone who is underneath. I’m always a little more relaxed once the lights are rigged and everyone is safely on the ground again.
Mark: In my personal opinion, based entirely on the quantity of incident reports I receive, I am going to say the most dangerous thing statistically is the stairs in the building. At least once a month someone will trip on the stairs and hurt themselves. Unassuming but consistent.
What’s something unsafe that people don’t really think about?
James: People probably don’t realise how much time we are still spending thinking about Covid-19. The seating area is disinfected after every single performance, and gloves, face masks, and trying not to have too maybe people in one place are just a standard part of how we do things now.
Mark: Is it going to be a cop-out if I say the stairs again?! YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE PLACING YOUR FEET, PEOPLE! The stairs are coming for you and they are bringing their buddy gravity with them. We don’t often think about stairs and how we navigate them, but I think they need to be discussed more often.
How do you keep people safe when they are performing here?
Mark: The PumpHouse Theatre has our standard procedures for how we navigate our health and safety, hazards, and reporting such issues. We pass on these processes to our hirers and they add any additional information and processes we may not be aware of. Either our staff or the hirers present are well briefed on our processes in case of emergency to ensure the safety of EVERYONE present. If our team spots anything unsafe, we address it immediately to the best of our ability or it is passed on to me for further investigation.
How does The PumpHouse keep up to date with H&S best practices?
James: We’re a member of both the Entertainment Venues Association of NZ and Entertainment Technology NZ, and we work with H&S consultants OSHBox to keep our Health and Safety policies and plans up to date.
Each year with have a Health and Safety audit and members of our team are trained in both medical and mental health first aid.
And if in doubt we ask for help! There is a great network of support and advice amongst the many venues in Auckland and the various people who use the spaces who are always willing to lend a hand and provide some feedback when they spot a problem.
What happens if there is a fire or other emergency at The PumpHouse?
James: If the fire alarm is activated during a performance three things will happen right away:
- The alarm will sound.
- The emergency lights will come on.
- The ventilation system will automatically start removing smoke from the room.
Your ushers will open the doors (and fire exit doors too) and direct you to assemble in front of the café while the team backstage makes sure the actors and backstage crew get out safely too.
In conclusion, prioritising health and safety at the theatre is crucial for the well-being of both performers and audience members. Let us all play our part in supporting the arts and ensuring that the theatre remains a sanctuary of creativity, inspiration, and most importantly, a place where everyone can feel safe!