SACIA’s Event Safety Council professional designations for Event Safety Officers were approved by the SAQA Board on 20 November 2020. The Event Safety Practitioner and Event Safety Professional designations require applicants to demonstrate their competence via a written exam and provide a Portfolio of Evidence supporting their claim. Five well-known industry experts achieved the Certified Event Safety Practitioner designation in April 2021, marking the first formal recognition of individual competence in this field. A further five applicants are expected to gain their designation within the coming month with more applications under review for the last half of 2021.
Event Safety is a relatively new field of specialisation. This function has typically been provided by security companies, with military or police backgrounds that have previously offered a safety solution as part of their security services. However, it has become clear that managing safety in the complex event environment is a profession and discipline of its own. While a grounding in Occupational Health and Safety is imperative, it does not meet all the event safety needs in the event space. Event safety is a process in which on-the-job, relevant event experience is critical when applying event safety principles with OH&S grounding.
SACIA’s Event Safety Council, an association of event safety specialists and event safety companies in South Africa, has embarked on a journey to achieve recognition as a Professional Body in the same way that the Engineering Council or the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa (ECA) are recognised.
“A formal designation is the first step in recognising prior learning and understanding. The second step is creating a career path from a zero base to becoming an Event Safety Professional. The third is to include event safety in formal event management courses, and the fourth is providing specific event safety training from ground level up,” says Mike Lord, Interim Chair of the Event Safety Council and Director of Alliance Safety Management. Lord was one of the first to achieve the Certified Event Safety Practitioner Designation earlier this year. “The Practitioner Designation is currently the only available tool for event safety specialists to attain a designation as an event safety officer as defined by the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act (SASREA). I am proud to be one of the first to be recognised for the skills and knowledge I have attained through my 20 years in event safety. Although many of my clients already recognise the importance of duty of care and understand the roles and responsibilities of an event safety officer, having a formal designation gives them additional peace-of-mind that they are dealing with competent personnel.”
Phrosnè Phillips, Director of GoSeeDo EC, Port Elizabeth, agrees. “I feel so much more confident in the recognition received, and I know that the designation reassures my clients that their event will be compliant and safe. It positions me as an expert in my field, and suddenly, the client focus has changed from a preoccupation with costs to a focus on how well their event safety can be done,” she says. “I am now part of a community of specialists with whom I can engage and exchange ideas. The document also helps in terms of strengthening applications and tender documents. I am so glad that this is happening and that I am one of the first in the Eastern Cape to have this designation – we have to start somewhere.”
“This designation has been a long time coming,” adds George Skazikis, Director of Operations at Evsol EventSafe Specialised Services, who was also awarded the designation in April. “It just makes sense to have an event-specific designation – too many individuals with insufficient experience in event safety sell themselves as experts. Like the security industry, someone should only be allowed to work as an event safety officer if they are registered with an official body and meet the required criteria,”
“This designation is now accessible to everyone who wants to build on a career in event safety, and there is a real need for competent event safety practitioners,” says Thomas Cameron, Senior Disaster Management Officer for Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. Cameron is also amongst the first group to have earned the Certified Event Safety Practitioner designation. “The event industry is flooded with event organisers, many of whom have neither sufficient experience nor understanding of the importance of dealing with safety and security matters. They also have limited access to safety expertise for their events. So, on the one hand, the designation offers event organisers direction when searching for a competent event safety practitioner. On the other, it offers regulatory bodies such as city JOCs an option to consider it as one of their requirements to confirm the competence of the appointed safety officer.”
Phil Prinsloo, MD of Eyethu Events (Pty) Ltd, wholeheartedly supports the effort to regulate the events industry and adhere to world-class standards. “Achieving this designation made me proud. It was an opportunity to present my knowledge and experience to my peers for evaluation and receive validation. We must drive International Standards. Most of our counterparts have both designations and recognition for these. Our international clients expect no less and I received an immediate positive reaction from our long term existing clients.”
The events industry is a fledgling industry within the context of post-apartheid South Africa. There is little formal training from colleges and universities, and learning is primarily on-the-job, like in the trade environment. “We need to remember our first major events, beyond President Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration, were the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and the African Nations Cup in 1996,” says Lord. “It’s only been 26 years since then. Our event sector has matured quickly from having no venues to speak of in 1994 to having major international stadiums in each city and International Convention Centres and Arenas in every major metro. As a result, the demands in event safety have grown exponentially.”
The Safety at Sports and Recreational Events act, 2010 (SASREA) stipulates that the planning, management and enforcement of safety at events MUST be handled by people experienced in the field of event safety. The event safety designations formally recognise those with experience and knowledge in event safety within the sector. As the first of its kind globally to offer an event safety designation, the event safety designation will be a mechanism that will enhance safety standards and practises in South Africa further advancing our country as a mega-event destination across the world.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF SACIA
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