India's Pioneer Media on TradeFairs

“Health & Safety Compliance are seen as a liability in India. Are we waiting for a disaster to happen?”

-Satyendra Mehra, Director Operations, UBM India.

UBM is one of the largest exhibition organisers globally. They have a very large and significant presence in India is several leading products. Being a leading multinational corporate, UBM has put into place stringent systems and Standards in every spear of operations. TradeFairTimes’ Executive Editor Rajeev Kumar spoke to Satyendra Mehra, Director Operations at UBM India to understand their Health & Safety Standards & Procedures.

TFT : What are the most critical concerns pertaining to the health issues of labour, participants & guests in a Trade Fair – Globally? In India?
Satyendra Mehra : Globally except Asia (Japan is an exception here) there are not much concerns pertaining to health issues of labour, participant and guests participating in the trade fair because they are governed by local statutory compliances and restrictions in terms of following and registering themselves on health and safety, especially creating safe and secure environment in the trade fair. Venue authorities including local trade fair associations also support these norms and do not allow any trade fair to be organised if rules and regulations on H&S are not implemented and followed. In India, the scenario is completed reverse. None of the above exists or even followed at the moment including local statutory bodies, venues and trade fair associations.

TFT : What are the Global Good Practices to address these concerns?
Satyendra Mehra : Use of pre-fabricated material onsite during set-up. Not to create workshop onsite. Usage of Personal Protection Gear during set-up. No work at night. Procurement of third party liability insurance. Recognised training courses on H&S to staff at multiple level across categories. Usage of recognised and standard material in terms of electrical and other critical installations during construction phase. Proper fire management system in place.

TFT : What are the Safety risks in the Trade Fair industry?
Satyendra Mehra : Fire, Collapse of Temporary Structure, Electrical Fault causing injury or fire, Injury from Mechanical Equipment, Falls from height, Failure of portable air compressors causing an explosion, Movement of heavy vehicles in close proximity to each other and pedestrians. Also, use of sub-standard material for construction, Use of unskilled workers/ labour for a skilled job, Complicated design, which is difficult to execute and construct, Working at heights without proper usage of personal protection gear i.e. Hi-Vis Vests, Hard Hats, Safety Shoes, Proper tools and equipments for works, Use of sub-standard and improper electrical connection and distribution, Non-availability of proper fire management system and training.

TFT : How are the safety risks in the Trade Fair industry different from those in other practices in the industry – such as Live Shows, Events, Conferences, Sports, melas, Conventions, Conclaves, etc.?
Satyendra Mehra : Safety risks across industry verticals, as specified and mentioned above, are same but varies in terms of type and kind.

TFT : Globally which are the nations that rank top most in safety & health compliance (rank 10)?
Satyendra Mehra : Most of the countries in Asia (except Japan) and Middle East.

TFT : What are the training programs or certifications in health & safety that are popular in the developed nations ?
Satyendra Mehra : The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) certified training modules. Their “Managing Safely” module / course is very useful and beneficial for exhibition industry.

TFT : Which event organisers lead the rankings in Health & safety?
Satyendra Mehra : With regards to exhibitions, in India is UBM. Globally along with UBM, Clarion Events, DMG Events, Mayridge and Reed Exhibitions lead this initiative on Health and Safety.

TFT : Globally what is UBM’s policy in Health & Safety?
Satyendra Mehra : To create Safe and Secure environment for all present onsite during set-up, show and dismantling of an event, Plans to deal with incidents and emergencies, Moral duty of care to prevent HARM, To prevent LOSS of LIFE, To prevent FINANCIAL LOSS, To comply with the LAW, Ensure all staff and appointed contractors comply with Health & Safety standards and parameters. Commitment is from the highest level.

TFT : How do you propose to do to promote high standards of Health & Safety compliance in the Indian Trade Fair sector?
Satyendra Mehra : Under direction, guidance and support of Michael Duck, Executive Vice President, UBM Asia and Joji George, Managing Director, UBM India, presently several parameters and activities are being implemented for our staff and appointed service providers. Such as – Boots, T-Shirts, Hi-Vis Vests, Hard Hats, Safety Lanyards, Fire safety demonstration and training onsite, Display and awareness about Emergency and Fire Safety Evacuation Plan, Ambulance and First Aid Counter onsite along with Doctor, Appointment of Government Approved and Certified Structural Engineer to check special stand designs including double decks, reduced stand heights to 4.5 m., third party liability insurance. Next phase is to educate our exhibitors and their appointed contractors to follow and implement our above-mentioned initiatives and action steps. Also, we would be organising OSH (Occupation Safety and Health) road shows during all our exhibitions for special stand design contractors, which will help us promoting our H&S initiatives and action steps and explaining and educating importance of H&S and its benefits. We are also introducing best practices in terms of improving onsite working conditions.

TFT : What do you think should be done to promote good compliance in Health & Safety in Indian Trade Fair sector? Who do you think should play the lead role to ensure compliance?
Satyendra Mehra : This cannot be achieved alone by an organiser but all of us has an equal important and collaborative role to play, whether it’s venue, freight forwarders, stand contractors, security or housekeeping for that matter. Though central point of contact and lead is the organiser, but without a collective, collaborative and uniform approach and thoughts, the desired goal cannot be achieved. Media has an equally important role to play because of their reach, influence and very importantly educating and informing the industry about such initiatives and best practices.

TFT : Do you think there should be standards & ratings that are unique to India?
Satyendra Mehra : Yes, because most of the standards and compliances are only for sake of documentation and remains there. Their practicality, workability and acceptance needs to be informed and shared with the industry, which will work in their benefit. As of now all these are seen as a liability. Are we waiting for a disaster to happen?

TFT : How long do you think it would take for India to come abreast with the leading nations in this compliance?
Satyendra Mehra : Not much. It is matter of time. Most importantly we require purpose built International standard venues and strict compliances of H&S parameters and activities.

TFT : How do you think India fares against China in this subject?
Satyendra Mehra : As of now we are far behind. It is said that India is 20 years behind China. I believe this gap it will remain like this unless and until all of us do not start taking H&S seriously and take that first step ahead collectively.

TFT : What is the position of UBM India on this compliance?
Satyendra Mehra : We are the leader and torch bearer of H&S initiatives and compliance in India.