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Minister responds to APPCOG call to safeguard campers

Minister responds to APPCOG call to safeguard campers

25th April 2019

The Government has responded to a Parliamentary Question asking what precautions festival providers are expected to take in order to protect campers from carbon monoxide (CO). 

Barry Sheerman MP – Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) – asked the Department of Work and Pensions what steps it was taking to encourage festivals to require glamping providers to install CO alarms. This follows the APPCOG’s discovery that over a dozen prominent festivals provide glamping accommodation that contain fuel-burning appliances with no mention of CO alarms. Doing so can pose a serious health risk, as using such appliances in enclosed spaces without proper ventilation can lead to CO building up to dangerous levels.

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson MP, responded to the question earlier this week and highlighted the Health and Safety Executive’s recommendation that festivals (voluntarily) install CO alarms in temporary accommodation:

"The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) leads on national occupational health and safety policy for the entertainments and leisure sector, whilst Local Authorities are responsible for enforcing the law at individual events, such as festivals, in their geographical area.

Festival organisers have responsibilities under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety and health of members of the public affected by their business. These responsibilities extend to ensuring that equipment provided for use by those attending festivals is maintained and operated in a safe condition.

Fatalities arising from exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) have occurred due to BBQs being taken into tents for cooking or as a source of heat. Where accommodation is provided, festival organisers are expected to take reasonably practicable measures to prevent these items being used in enclosed areas and raise awareness of the potential dangers.

There is no legal requirement to provide CO alarms in temporary festival accommodation. However, where there is a risk of CO being produced, HSE strongly recommends the use of suitable alarms as a useful precaution.

HSE has published event safety guidance to help event organisers comply with their legal duties (http://www.hse.gov.uk/event-safety/index.htm) and continues to work closely with industry stakeholders to remind them of the risks from CO and the precautions to be taken. The Events Industry Forum also produces a guide, known as the Purple Guide, for the live event industry."

The APPCOG welcomes HSE’s support for CO alarms in glamping accommodation and encourages all festival providers to ensure festivalgoers and the public are CO safe this summer.

This Parliamentary Question is part of the APPCOG’s wider work on CO Safety at Festivals, which includes safety messaging targeted at festival campers on the risks of using barbeques inside tents, and promoting CO safety best practices to festival providers. Our aim is to increase awareness amongst guests, medical and security staff of both the particular risks of CO in a festival environment and of the symptoms, which can easily be confused for hangover.

If you would like to learn more or get involved in the APPCOG’s CO Safety at Festivals work, please get in touch.