Harrier ensures ‘health MOT’ of events crews with mobile surgery

A SAFETY firm which has worked with some of the biggest names in showbiz is looking to roll out a ‘mobile surgery’ to ensure events staff have a clean bill of health.

Castle Donington-based Harrier, which specialises in health and safety and event safety, teamed up with partner business Phoenix Occupational Health to provide a mobile occupational health van at the recent Strawberries & Creem Festival, in Cambridge.

It is thought that it was the first time that such a vehicle had been provided on a festival site.

News of the proposed rollout comes after World Occupational Therapy Day, which celebrated the profession on October 27.

Harrier used Arts Council Culture Recovery funding to be able to provide the facility.

The van was visited by 25 backstage staff and crew members, and Phoenix’s specialist nurse practitioner (occupational health), Lyndsey Marchant, provided services such as hearing and cholesterol tests, diabetes checks and blood pressure checks.

The facility proved popular among the crew members, many of whom are freelancers with a hectic lifestyle, especially in the current climate where GP appointments are difficult to access.

Helen McCabe is acting managing director of Harrier, while Andy Smith, managing director, works on Expo 2020 in Dubai.

She said: “Normally, the festival season starts in April, but due to Covid restrictions, it started in July this year.

“That meant companies in the events sector, like ourselves, put six months of work into two.

“Having had no work for the past 18 months, all the subcontractors and contractors were running at 200mph.

“If they were jumping from event to event, access to their doctor was particularly difficult, so our occupational health van proved really popular. The ability to see a nurse can stop something that might appear minor, getting a lot worse, and the pandemic has really put a focus on health.”

Lyndsey said she and husband David, lead occupational health technician, carried out hearing tests, which are really important for people in the entertainment industry as hearing can be damaged due to loud noise, and they may not be able to tell until it’s too late.

Lyndsey added: “Other things that these types of workers might need are assessments to determine if they are developing hand arm vibration syndrome, working at height medicals, and driver medicals.

“The benefit of using the Phoenix mobile unit is we are able to drive anywhere, we don’t even need to plug it in to the electric, and we have a fully functioning mobile health clinic complete with audio booth.

“It’s basically a private space at the event for people to come and discuss their health concerns and hopefully have some reassurance.”

Lyndsey said blood pressure and cholesterol check results were “surprisingly good”, considering crew members admitted that due to their demanding work life, they did not always have the healthiest of diets.

She continued: “The team at Phoenix OH has 10 employees now and demand for the van has been so great we are looking to buy another one.

“We are really looking forward to working with other festival teams in 2022.”

Harrier, which has supported multiple events and venues with its safety operation, including the Beyonce tour, as well as having worked on gigs by Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi and BTS, and on the Y Not and Truck festivals, forecast that 2022 will be a particularly busy year in the events world.

Helen said: “It looks to be a mega year for the events industry. We are hoping to roll out the occupational health van out to our sites next year.

“Our strapline is ‘putting people first’ and we really want backstage staff to be proactive and on top form to help ensure fast-paced environments like events go smoothly and customers and workers remain safe and healthy.”

Louise Young, event director for Strawberries & Creem Festival, said: “We do work quite hard on general crew and staff welfare, so adding the occupational health van into the mix was perfect in ensuring that after all those long hours and hard work everyone was doing, everyone was looking after themselves.

“It’s something that festivals and events should definitely have to help look after their crew.”

Harrier, a member of the British Safety Council which won the International Safety Award in 2016, is a versatile and passionate team that can strengthen businesses by simplifying health and safety.

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