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Raising the standard

by EN

ESSA director Andrew Harrison announces a new scheme to help organisers, venues and exhibitors distinguish between suppliers that can deliver high standards of health and safety practice and management.

ESSA has sought to provide its members with parity of voice in the industry, a forum to resolve common issues, and to champion our members’ probity, quality and reliability. ESSA is now, more than ever before, in a position to effect positive change not just amongst its members but throughout the events industry.

We are now taking our role a step further with the launch of ‘ESSA Accredited’ – the event accreditation system we have designed to raise both standards and expectations across the industry. ESSA Accredited will allow venues, organisers and exhibitors to distinguish the contractors that can, and cannot, meet the exacting standards of health and safety practice and management, as defined in CDM 2015 and other key areas of UK Health and Safety law.

The notion of an accreditation scheme has been on the table since ESSA’s inception in 2007 and has been widely discussed by members and at board level. We’re justifiably proud of our ‘Use an ESSA Member’ campaign, and we’ve successfully highlighted the ESSA Bond, Code of Conduct and Quality Charter to venues, organisers and our industry’s shared clients, all as part of a concerted effort to evidence our belief that ESSA members are the best choice for event supplies and services.

But the time has come to take the next step, and for ESSA to begin truly making its mark on the industry by leading the way on supplier and service standards with its own accreditation process focused solely on events. Of course, there are many accreditation schemes in operation that individually address health and safety, construction, sustainability and so on, and ESSA Accredited will adopt, and in many cases exceed, the standards set out in them.

ESSA members have long asked ‘what is the standard we are expected to work to?’ On the back of this it was important we didn’t simply invest time in a ‘rubber stamp’ or vanity accreditation and insisted that ESSA Accredited had to be independently and regularly audited. ESSA Accredited is a scheme that stipulates and enforces exacting standards – to drive quality and excellence whilst providing our members’ clients with the means to simplify their risk mitigation. ESSA Accredited is the tool for event organisers and venues to ensure their choice of contractor is demonstrably competent, qualified, solvent and reliable.

ESSA Accredited needs time to develop, for members to ‘kick the tyres’ and to build its reputation. To begin with we are launching ESSA Accredited so that qualifying members can prove that they are operating at the required level to meet stage one requirements of assessing competence under CDM 2015 and other management system standards. This will include adopting the principles of SSIP (Safety Schemes in Procurement) member schemes such as CHAS, Safemark and Greenlight. As we refine and improve the scheme we will be bringing new modules online in 2020, so that members can expand their accreditation to include other important compliance regimes including sustainability, aligned with the requirements of ISO 20121 Sustainable Event Management.

Details about ESSA Accredited have been and will be made available for members who want to be the early-adopters of this initiative, and they can contact ESSA’s newly appointed Health & Safety Project Manager, Josh Taylor, to start their accreditation process.

As a sector, we need to impress upon the industry the importance of a universally recognised, credible, relevant and independently verified accreditation scheme. I would urge organisers and venue operators to contact me personally to discover what ESSA Accredited will mean for them, in terms of mitigating their risk, simplifying their purchasing processes and meeting their responsibility of due diligence.

The board and the steering group have invested time and resources into ESSA Accredited, guiding the scheme through its design and into reality. As a result, I believe the scheme will be a game-changer for the event industry over time. 

This article recently featured in Exhibition News magazine. For more content like this, click here.

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