We do a lot of extraordinary events. But sometimes we’re asked to produce events that are, simply put, awesome.

Like last month when we whisked an AV1der up into the skies in a hot air balloon for a product launch.

Kudos to our fabulous client who came up with the concept. When we got the call to help out with the launch, our creative butterflies let loose.

But after the butterflies settled and planning begun, we took a step back to evaluate the safety risks. It’s something we do for all of our events, but is especially important for out of the ordinary events like this.

AV1’s WHS systems and processes are of a world-class standard. We’re regularly praised by five-star hotels and convention centres about how proactive we are with safety documentation. Even from Crown Melbourne which is renowned for its demanding safety requirements. One venue described us as having “the best systems around”.

So when an event came around that involved flight, fire and technical equipment, here are the lengths we took to ensure the safety of staff and equipment.

The event

A DJ playing live music from a hot air balloon – filmed with drones and streamed live to an audience in another location. Essentially a floating PA system!

The risks

Well there’s weather for one. The balloon could land in any one of 100 locations based on the weather at the time of landing. So really the event had no fixed location.

Coupled with the fact there was a diesel fuel generator in the basket powering the equipment – with live flame just above it powering the balloon. Not normally a safe combo!

Then there are potential hazards like unsecured equipment, flight risks… the list goes on.

Our responsibility

Some might suggest that with the flight being operated by a professional ballooning company, it wasn’t AV1’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the flight.

But while it was a commercial operation, it wasn’t a commercial flight. The passengers were paid employees, not tourists, and there was equipment going in the basket that wouldn’t normally.

As PCBUs* we couldn’t make assumptions that they had it all covered. So we requested the balloon operator’s standard risk assessment as well as the overall risk assessment from our client and went about conducting our own.

For every event, every PCBU involved has a shared duty to manage safety risks. That means the client, the venue, and all suppliers.

The steps

So to ensure the event ran safely, we:

  1. First ensured our AV Operator gave informed consent to go up in the balloon
  2. Sought advice for our standard insurances (Workers Compensation, Public Liability etc.) that they covered this kind of activity (turned out our Workers Comp didn’t, so we increased our cover)
  3. Asked deeper questions about the risks involved in this event – consulting with the Balloon operator, our client and all others involved
  4. Established plans for weather contingencies, emergency procedures and first aid
  5. Simulated a ‘crash’ to ensure everything was secured in the balloon
  6. Ensured everything that was not fixed (e.g. some of the DJ gear) was at a height lower than the basket itself so it couldn’t slip out
  7. Adapted our standard risk assessment to the special requirements of this event, adding in specific checklist items to the toolbox talk
  8. Sought feedback on our risk assessment from our client, reviewed it and updated accordingly
  9. Conducted a safety briefing and induction with all Balloon staff, AV1 staff, our client, the DJ and film crew

Overall we compiled 50 odd pages of insurance, safety and risk assessment documentation for this event.

The outcome

As expected, all went off without a hitch.

It was a great result for our happy client and of course our lovely AV Operator returned home safe and sound along with our gear.

This event was a true testament to AV1’s overall safety culture, record keeping procedures and industry consultation expertise.

It’s not only ballooning events that get this kind of detail. Each event we produce receives an assessment to ensure that we undertake it in the safest way possible. It’s essential in today’s safety conscious environment. And another area where AV1 is ahead of the game.

*Persons conducting a business or undertaking – a legal term under WHS laws for individuals, businesses or organisations that are conducting business.

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