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Safety Committee

Since its inception in 2002, the Safety Committee has grown and developed into a stable, multidisciplinary, multidepartmental effort to create a safer work and play environment for our staff, participants, and the event itself. Our focus is to develop a safety-conscious culture within all departments of Burning Man. Key members of the committee include representatives from the following departments and work groups: Burning Man Board members and senior staff, Emergency Services department, Art Performance Safety team, and the Department of Public Works (DPW), including DPW safety coordinators.

Over 2004, we began finally settling into an operational routine following completion of the initial startup phase of the Safety Committee. Considerable time was spent in the off season crafting a Safety Committee Operations document that included vision and mission statements, quorum requirements, and defined roles, including defining the need for changing departmental involvement. The level of involvement was defined further as active members, partners, and advocates to better assign responsibilities, quorum requirements, and time commitments. Finally a clear definition outlined the authority of the committee as a whole and as individuals when faced with emergent safety concerns while in a working environment on the playa or year-round.

A number of safety related issues were tackled in 2004. One of the main efforts followed a report from an advisory inspection of Burning Man's property by our insurance company. The Safety Committee began the process of following up on suggestions to improve safety where the audit found a need for improvement.

To increase safety around the Nevada properties and throughout DPW during the pre- and post-event operations, first-aid kits were added to most fleet vehicles, and 20 members of DPW staff were trained as emergency medical first responders to reduce response time for critical injuries. Additionally, the Burning Man Emergency Services department kept professional emergency medical resources available on-site from July through to the end of post-event clean-up in October. New for 2004 was an increased focus on higher-quality medical providers with a mix of occupational, clinical, and emergency experience.

Several CPR classes were provided free of charge to Burning Man staff and volunteers in the San Francisco office. In 2005, we plan on offering several first aid classes.

One of the standard functions of a Safety Committee is to perform post-accident reviews looking for ways to improve safety for the future. The committee also reviews the reporting and analysis process to ensure that it meets standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This year, accident-reporting paperwork was updated to reflect operational and personnel changes in the reporting structure.

The Safety Committee established an office emergency plan for the San Francisco office as well as a Hazard Communication Program. That program is an OSHA requirement and informs staff of the hazards of the products they may encounter in their work. -

About this photo...
About this photo...
The Safety Committee and DPW began developing a safety manual in 2002. A rewrite begun in 2003 will apply the document to the entire Burning Man organization. Development continues today to continually renew this living document. The project is expected to continue for several years until the complexity and detail of safety guidelines suit the Project's needs. For 2005, the Safety Committee will build on what we have already developed to create a more comprehensive document that will meet essential safety needs and serve as a framework for additional refinement over the next couple of years.

For 2005, safety updates will continue as regular agenda items at all quarterly staff meetings. Meeting notes from the Safety Committee will be distributed on the staff-announcement email list throughout the year.

Submitted by,
Joseph Pred
Emergency Services Operations ChiefEnd of page

Click here to read the 2003 Safety Committee report