The COVID-19 outbreak has had a profound effect on the Event Hire Association (EHA) membership, so to address the issues facing the sector, the trade body delivered an Events Industry Recovery Webinar on June 23. Topics discussed included social distancing, safe working practises, adjusting to the “new normal” and getting the industry and its suppliers back up and running as safely and swiftly as possible. The session was a resounding success with more than 60 event professionals logging on to listen to the expert panel. The points raised in the discussion will now form the structure of a dedicated health and safety document being produced by the EHA and provide further guidance on getting the sector back to work.

In a bid to unite the industry, the panel included Dean Foster, managing director of Cambridge Marquees and MUTA president, and Clive Owen, managing director of A1 Loo Hire and PSE board representative. They were joined by Kevin McGuinness, managing director of Allen’s Catering Equipment Hire; Paul Budden (pictured), a health, safety and training consultant who specialises in the events industry; Caroline Clift, editor of Stand Out magazine; Nicky Warner, director of Loos for Do’s and Graham Arundell, CEO of EHA. Moderating the session was James Dickson, director of Nineteen 52 Media and Events.

Commenting on the webinars success and the decision to use the topics discussed to create a dedicated document for the events industry, Arundell said: “It was great to see so many people from across the events industry join the webinar, there was a real cross section of suppliers, large and small, along with event organisers and there was a good mix of members and non-members who logged on. Bringing together a group that discusses where everyone currently is and examines every nuance that the industry has was vital for moving forward.”

Following the webinar, Tim Pangbourne, director of Jaspers Event Hire, commented: “Thank you to Graham Arundell, EHA and Kevin McGuiness, Allens Catering Hire, for putting forward the case of the smaller companies within the furniture and catering hire sector so well within the webinar. We intend to return to work gently in the not too distant future and welcome any documentation that is developed by the EHA. It is times like these where a trade association earns its stripes.”

Arundell concluded: “A common thread throughout the session was the need for consistency and documentation that addresses the key issues the sector is facing. So, following the framework of an earlier document, produced for construction-based members within Hire Association Europe (HAE), for events was a logical step. Paul Budden was able to offer practical advice on infection control throughout the session; from improved welfare facilities onsite and more rigorous cleaning of equipment and kit to staggering working hours and extending build and de-rig times. These are all points that we look to expand upon and address in the guidance documentation.”

EHA’s Paul Gaze and Carl Bartlett are finalising the Events Industry Guidance Document for Returning to Work and adding an e-learning package of three modules with an end of program short assessment and certificate available. It’s imperative that event suppliers anticipate client requirements and fully adhere to government and associated bodies’ recommendations to ensure clients have full confidence in their ability to support them current conditions. The guidance documents and training modules will be available from July 6.