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Health & Safety Issues at Reading & Leeds Festivals

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

I can remember when The Glastonbury Festival first started out. It was initially not the success it was now.The great founder of the festival and still one of the main organisers, Michael Eavis, thought that the festival was not survive in its early days.

It is of course one of the world’s greatest music festivals and it must be said that out of Glastonbury and Woodstock arose the vast majority of varied music and comedy festivals that now exist across the whole world including Reading and Leeds festivals which will take place shortly.Glastonbury is unique. I understand that a lot of the profits go to charity. The organisation is broken down to various groups and by way of example some of the fields are operated by cooperatives and one field is operated by Greenpeace.

This is of course a fantastic way of organising a festival and one hopes that other festivals can be managed on similar lines. From a logistical point of view, it must be an absolute nightmare.From a health and safety perspective it must be even more so.I know from experience that Glastonbury has changed substantially over the years. It used to be very open. Anyone could come along. When it became more commercialised and therefore more people attended, there was a need not only to ensure that it paid its own way, but also to ensure that it was managed and restricted in a more controlled environment. To do otherwise would have been foolhardy.There is now a strict ticket only policy and this allows the organisers to be able to judge accurately how many people are within the festival and the areas in which they are likely to be. It must help considerably with logistics.

Although every person has a duty to look after themselves and also a duty to their neighbours as I have indicated previously, it is incumbent upon the organisers of a festival such as this, to comply with appropriate health and safety requirements.I have little doubt that the Health and Safety Executive take a keen interest in the run up to each annual festival and planning will take place months in advance. As an occupier of land which effectively is what the festival is, allowing people then to come onto the land in return for a ticket being sold, they have a duty to ensure that the land and the area is reasonably safe.They will no doubt seek indemnity from those people who have stands and stalls on the land to ensure that their equipment and paraphernalia is equally safe. Accidents do happen. One would hope that they are relatively minor and that when they occur, that appropriate first aid stations can treat those injured and ferry them to hospital as quickly as possible if required.So long as all this is in place and logistically it works well and has been tried and tested, it will be the usual success.I am sure that much has been learned over the years and I am sure that it and other festivals, such as Reading and Leeds will continue in the future and will flourish.

Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Slater and Gordon Lawyers. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046 or claim online and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.