The importance of safety

Yellow safety helmetThis one is perhaps more intended for people in the industry, rather than those who purely play, but even players might be future industry participants some day!

A recent safety course brings to mind thoughts of how the legislation in place in at least the UK might impact the world of exit games. Of course, legislation and requirements in Ireland and other nations are likely to be completely different, and if you have any sort of business sense you’re likely to know this already – or, at least, know to consult a primary source rather than a non-specialist blogger. Others might enjoy learning a little about the thinking required.

UK businesses with at least five employees are required to document their Health and Safety policy. Smaller businesses (and exit games may start as small as businesses get) still have a statutory requirement to inform their employees – heck, even their singular employee – of health and safety law through either displaying the poster or distributing the equivalent pocket card.

Every business needs to perform a risk assessment to spot the hazards where employees, customers, contractors visiting to perform work and other visits stand at risk from injury. Not many exit games are likely to have biological hazards, but some cleaning supplies can reasonably be considered chemical hazards. Environmental hazards might be theoretically possible, especially if the business has any aspect of food service. Particularly cool toys, such as moving machinery, might engender mechanical hazards. Lastly, any business can have physical hazards as simple as the potential for slips, trips and falls, or bumped heads, and any business might bring out organisational hazards in its employees by imposing undue stress. You may find that companies considering corporate entertainment may need to see this risk assessment when deciding whether to visit or not.

Once these hazards have been identified, along with the risk that each one poses, the next step is to consider how to control the risk. If it’s reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, without introducing further hazards, then do so; if not, considerations must be given to reducing the risk, or applying workplace precautions (such as signage and/or barriers) if neither is possible. The most effective risk controls are those which do not rely on their users; it’s too easy to consider safety to be in terms of protective clothing and equipment – and that’s perhaps the most visual way to represent the issue, hence the graphic above – but in truth that’s the last step, not the first.

Once these are in place, safety performance can be improved over time. Ensuring safe operation is the responsibility of both employer and employee; everyone’s responsible for everyone else. Make plans, ensure everyone is properly trained in knowing how to apply them and that they are followed in practice. Measure your performance against the plans, targets and standards you have set for yourself, by reporting observed hazards and narrowly avoided incidents as well as accidents that occur. (There’s a statutory reporting obligation on the worst accidents, and environmental health officers have considerable powers in law.)

Safety is a process to be continually monitored and improved. Standards in business and public life have improved massively over the years, which is only to be applauded; however, public perception has largely been cynical, with some people choosing only to consider the “compensation culture” aspects of it. At this point, this site is not yet aware of any adverse stories about exit game safety. Fingers crossed that good practice may prevail and that that may long continue.

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