Safety from falling objects

We just read an article (click here) about a mirror falling (or I guess potentially could have been thrown) in Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium an injuring a fan (fortunately he is ok). This happening reminded me of how cautious we all need to be when working in elevated locations, or areas with drink railings or other ledges were loose equipment may reside.  For you arenas it’s probably a good idea to revisit your catwalk policies – are they adequate, are they posted, are the ramifications for violations? Imagine what happens when a 2-way radio falls from a catwalk 90′ above the floor. Of maybe you shouldn’t if you’re squeamish. When you hire contractors who use scaffolding, are they abiding by any venue policies regarding high work? Does your venue HAVE such policies? Or do you simply rely on their adherence to OSHA regulations? Not being critical here, just asking the questions.

Simply, this news report is a good reminder about an area of safety that we sometimes take for granted because maybe it only affects a few people, or the chances of something bad happening are relatively low.  It’s just something we thought we’d mention.

Ebola and the Venue Industry: Update and New Resource Site

ebolaphotoAs updates, new procedures, and evolving resources become available regarding the current Ebola incidents, IAVM remains vigilant in ensuring that members and professionals throughout the venue industry receive the support and information needed to maintain the safe, healthy environments that are standard each and every day.

“The IAVM community is at its best right now—working together to ensure that every venue can continue to deliver an exceptional, safe experience to each guest,” said Kim Bedier, CFE, chair of the 2014-2015 IAVM Board of Directors. “The Ebola incidents have raised questions that we all take very seriously, and I am confident in IAVM’s proactive efforts.”

Ebola Task Force
At the direction of Bedier—and through collaboration with the Academy for Venue Safety & Security (AVSS) and our Industry Affairs Council (IAC)—an Ebola Task Force was formed to guide IAVM’s efforts in providing relevant support to the venue community.

Serving on the Ebola Task Force:

Fred Peterson, director of facilities operations, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, chair of the IAVM IAC
Mark Herrera, director of education, IAVM
Andy Jabbour, managing director for the Real Estate Information Sharing & Analysis Center and preparedness director for the Financial Services Information Sharing & Analysis Center
James Hughes, board of directors, North Texas Crime Commission
John Siehl, CFE, regional vice president, VenuWorks, acting chair of AVSS, member of the IAVM VMS faculty
Mark Camillo, chair, DHS Pubic Assembly Facility Subsector Council, sanctioned and supported by the Office of Infrastructure Protection
Ryan Thorpe, director of facility operations, McCormick Place/SMG, vice chair of the IAVM IAC
Russell Read, CFE, vice president of operations, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas ETCP representative on the IAVM IAC
Paul Turner, CFE, director of event operations & security, AT&T Stadium, Dallas chair of the IAVM stadiums sector, member of the AVSS Faculty
Jeff Davis, general manager, College Park Center – UT Arlington
Bill Powell, vice president of event marketing and sales, FELD Entertainment
Harvey Perriott, PSP, protective security advisor North Texas district, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Russ Simons, chief listening officer, managing partner, Venue Solutions Group

New Resource Site:
Through the efforts and collaboration of the Ebola Task Force, a new resource page has been developed for IAVM’s Academy for Venue Safety & Security. Featuring current resources and relevant updates, the Ebola Resource Site will continue to provide information sourced from trusted experts and vetted by the task force on behalf of the venue industry.

Dallas Area Venues Lead the Way
Public assembly venues throughout Dallas/Fort Worth have handled major events over the past few weeks—including a record-breaking State Fair, an NFL game, conventions, major concerts, and intercollegiate sports—all with exceptional attendance and no significant issues or impact related to local Ebola incidents.

“With over three million visitors to the annual State Fair of Texas, the well being and safety of patrons is always of concern. With the Ebola threat locally, the State Fair of Texas significantly increased the number of hand sanitizing stations available for fairgoers throughout the grounds and at all food and beverage concession stands. Messaging of such was also increased throughout park via signage, sound systems throughout the grounds, and even utilizing iconic Big Tex to remind fairgoers to wash their hands.”

—Daniel Huerta, executive general manager, Fair Park Dallas

“The Ebola incident demonstrates the importance of communication and incorporating the elements of planning — training — vigilance. At the end of the incident we take the lessons learned and begin the cycle to be prepared to execute when called upon by our community.”

—Al Rojas, assistant director, Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

“We’ve had health issues in the past, such as a local meningitis scare, and we always react the same way: We pull down all the information available from experts and make sure the staff answering our phones can speak intelligently about the issue and reassure our guests that we are prepared and ready to host them in a safe environment. Thankfully, we had record attendance during one of our recent events, even as the Ebola scare was in the early stages, and we didn’t get many calls or concerns from our fans and we were able to proceed doing what we do best: Hosting safe and fun events for our fans.”

—Gabrielle Stevenson, president and general manager, Texas Motorplex

“Over the past several weeks, the College Park Center at UT Arlington has had record attendance numbers for Intercollegiate Athletics games. Our focus has been, and continues to be, the safety and experience of our guests. With a large international student population, our university administration started monitoring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa back in the summer, and with the recent situation in Dallas, our partnership with local and regional officials provided timely updates. This communication helped us keep our staff informed with factual information, allowing us to review internal protocols and provide an exceptional experience for those coming to events in our venue.”

—Jeff Davis, CMP, general manager, College Park Center – UT Arlington

“At AT&T Stadium, we continue to work closely with our local and state public health officials. The Arlington Fire Department serves as our direct connection to our local resources, and they provided us with regular updates and briefings regarding the Ebola virus issue in the Dallas area. Because we work so closely with our public safety and public health professionals on a regular basis, we had established lines of communication, existing procedures and protocols, and solid working relationships in place. This allowed us to handle what has been a very intense matter with relative ease. My advice to venue managers is to create, develop, and maintain your relationships with your local authorities so that when you need to respond to issues you can focus on the matter at hand and not be additionally burdened with trying to decide roles, responsibilities and authority.”

—Paul Turner, CFE, director of event operations & security, AT&T Stadium, chair of the IAVM stadiums sector, member of the AVSS Faculty

“The AT&T Performing Arts Center’s position is to reduce panic in our staff, volunteers, and guests. In accordance with our standard infectious disease and blood-born pathogen procedure, we have automatic hand sanitizer dispensers in each restroom and open lobby areas. There has been no decrease in attendance due to the recent events in Dallas, and our visitors feel safe when on campus. The center has procedures and policies in place to deal with any perceived threat to the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, and guests.”

—Russell Read, CFE, vice president of operations, AT&T Performing Arts Center, ETCP representative on the IAVM Industry Affairs Council

“Even though we are outside our season, we still have a number of events at the ballpark and in the entertainment district with which we are involved. Our First Responder community, particularly the Arlington Fire Department, provided important information from public health officials that we were able to distribute to all of our staff. The detail provided us a blueprint for response and also went a long way toward calming concerns among staff and guests. This type of collaboration is critical for the safety of our guests and the success of our businesses.”

—Rob Matwick, executive vice president, business operations, Texas Rangers

“These venues were prepared, and it is a testimony to the exceptional care and planning that venue professionals apply to their facilities and staff on an ongoing basis. Challenges arise, and tomorrow’s may be different than today’s, but being committed to guest safety—and being connected to a community like IAVM for support and training—ensures that we are equipped as an industry to always operate our venues with the highest regard for the safety and security of our staff, clients, and guests walking through the doors every day.”

—Mark Herrera, director of education, IAVM

Tackling Sustainability in Sports Facilities

B_1014_Sports_Facilities_EaglesBuildings magazine typically focuses on commercial properties, but in the October issue they have a nice article on sustainability in sports facilities. You can read the entire article here, or see some of the excerpts below.

“Easily achieved items include better discipline about turning things off when they’re not being used and implementing low-cost solutions like aerators on faucets and weather stripping on doors,” says Scott Jenkins, GM of the Atlanta Falcons stadium and chairman of the Green Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help sports teams, venues, and leagues enhance their environmental performance. “Start with a base knowledge of how you performed in the past and what’s business as usual. Then think about what you can accomplish with a new way of doing things.” 

“There’s a real benefit to switching to new technologies. With LEDs, you’ve got instant on/off and no time needed for warming up,” says J. Eric Sullivan, Jr., principal and executive vice president of third-party firm Sports Facilities Management. “Features like dimmability allow you to light up a sporting event for TV and dim them down for a community dance the next day. That’s a whole new opportunity that wasn’t available with metal halide or fluorescents.”

“Slashing water use – think washrooms, cleaning practices, or field and landscape irrigation – is another low-hanging fruit opportunity. You can also produce impressive financial savings by recycling water for irrigation and toilet flushing or switching to waterless urinals (see Case Study #7).”

“Enhancing the fan experience while being environmentally conscious is a major focus at the San Francisco 49ers new stadium”, says Morrie Eisenberg, who manages the team’s sustainability efforts as director of business operations. “You don’t have to go for one or the other,” he explains. “Our green roof lowers our heating and cooling needs for the suite tower, but it also provides a beautiful place for fans to experience on game days or tours.”


OSHA Violations


Current Ebola Crisis

While the spotlight currently shines on the unfortunate situation in Dallas I do believe that at some point the public’s awareness and sensitivity to bodily fluids and bloodborne pathogens will eventually involve our industry as a part of larger community issue  (i.e. schools, churches, malls, all places of public gathering.)

We are in the unenviable position of overseeing operations that in many cases are the size of small cities, and even if it is not a large scale public assembly facility the smaller facilities (by our standards) still represent the larger public gathering spaces in any community. Bloodborne pathogens and bodily fluids are already a part of our daily life.

Within this dynamic we have a wide variety of service providers with a very big Delta in resources/expertise from in-house, mom & pop, community groups, all the way to national firms. While we naturally expect that the larger companies have robust awareness, training and response protocols, I can tell you from first hand experience they simply do NOT, or to be fair they do have the programs, but in my experience they do NOT train and execute consistently. I know of a large professional sports stadium who backfills their game day housekeeping staff with temporary workers. How effective do you think their bloodborne pathogen training is?

I am of the opinion that we are behind in this area as an industry and while we have no real ability to drive compliance, we do have as a part of our role (at least I believe we do) an obligation to create awareness. If at the end of the day, any given facility, company or staff does not take it seriously and we have done our job, I can still sleep soundly.

This effort does not require the development of new information; there are very solid policies, procedures and response protocols that already exist within the Commercial Facilities Sector and beyond. How do we move quickly to make access to this information available through all of our members (i.e. theaters, fairs, malls and places of mass gathering)?

I believe that the time is right to issue a reminder our our obligation to the public and assist in preparing our facility managers to meet this question head on before it becomes a problem.

-Russ Simons