“During this State of National Disaster, we’ve seen a massive drop off in events, with attendance numbers severely curtailed. But, as vaccines and treatment plans start to become available, it is certain that the events industry will revive itself. The key question being asked by everyone working in national, provincial and local government is how events can be held without spreading the Covid-19 virus, and without posing a risk to the performers, patrons and crew working on an event?” says Kevan Jones, executive director at the Southern African Communications Industries Association (SACIA).

The approval of two new professional designations for Event Safety Officers could not come at a better time.

With the increased responsibility to host events safely, the approval of two new professional designations for Event Safety Officers by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) could not come at a better time. This initiative was driven by SACIA’s Event Safety Council (ESC), starting in 2018 with draft designations gazetted on 14 August 2020, which were approved by the SAQA Board on 20 November 2020.

“Whilst legislation and standards reference the role and responsibility of event safety officers, there has not been, until now, any formal recognition of an individual’s competence in this field,” adds Jones. “Going forward I fully expect event organisers and their designated JOC’s will require every event to have designated staff in place to ensure compliance with all health and safety protocols.”

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Event Safety Practitioner is the first professional designation to be introduced, while Event Safety Professional will be launched in the first quarter of 2021.

Mike Lord, interim chair of ESC, explains, “A Certified Event Safety Practitioner will have demonstrated their broad understanding of standards, regulations and laws relating to event safety, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the role and responsibility of stakeholders involved in the event chain. It’s critical that the Event Safety Practitioner can demonstrate their understanding of SASREA, SANS10266: Health and Safety at Events, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as well as City by-laws encompassing key appointments, site plan approvals, event licencing, event emergency planning, risk assessment and compliance, etc.”

Those applying for this designation will be required to have an NQF level 4 qualification (such as the National Senior Certificate) and at least two years work experience as an Event Safety Officer, specifically in the events sector. They will also be assessed on their work ethic, and are required to write an online exam and provide a Portfolio of Evidence supporting their claim of competence.

“This designation is long overdue and certainly separates those individuals who are competent as Event Safety Officers from the many fly-by-night operators claiming a competence they don’t have.”

The exam was compiled by industry experts and members of the ESC working with the Event Safety Alliance in the United States. It covers a broad scope of competencies that are likely on an event site, says Lord, including “questions around event power, temporary structures, bullying and workplace intimidation, gender-based violence, weather, medical requirements, and much more”.

Thomas Cameron from the Nelson Mandela Bay Disaster Management office was one of the first people to write the exam. He says, “This designation is long overdue and certainly separates those individuals who are competent as Event Safety Officers from the many fly-by-night operators claiming a competence they don’t have. The exam is difficult, and the assessment standards are high but when you’re dealing with the safety of the public, that’s exactly how it should be. When safety officers get it wrong, people inevitably get hurt.”

Individuals interested in earning the Certified Event Safety Practitioner designation can download the SACIA Member’s Handbook and can register to write the online examination here.