Since its inception in 2002, the Safety Committee has grown into a stable, multi-disciplinary, multi-departmental effort dedicated to creating safer work and play environments for staff and participants, creating an overall safe event. The Safety Committee is comprised of senior staff members, Burning Man Board of Directors members, Emergency Services, Rangers, and the Department of Public Works (DPW), including DPW Safety Coordinators. Its focus is to develop a safety-conscious culture within all departments of Burning Man. The goals of the Safety Committee are to create a safe workplace, a safety training program for DPW volunteers, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) level compliance.

Safety Committee, History

The initial focus of the Committee was to oversee the development and process of DPW Safety Coordinators. The Safety Committee began a safety manual in 2002 and the following year a complete rewrite more broadly applied the document to the entire Burning Man event, though DPW operations remain a core focus of the manual. The document continues to evolve as needs change and regulations require. Since 2004 the Safety Committee began settling into an operational routine following its initial startup period. This transition was accomplished by crafting a Safety Committee operations document: vision and mission statements, quorum requirements, responsibility assignment, defined time commitment and roles, including an emphasis on intra-departmental involvement. Finally, the authority of the Safety Committee was outlined and defined for the group and individuals who face safety concerns while working on the playa at the event or off-playa, year-round.

Safety Committee, Today

The Safety Committee currently divides its time and focus between proactive and reactive safety measures. Reactive safety measures include responding to accidents or safety issues as they occur, mitigation of hazard, investigation of incidents, and review of process and procedure for improvement. Proactive safety measures are detailed in the annual update portion of the Afterburn.

Safety Committee, Afterburn Report 2006

The year 2006 was marked by progress implementing DPW operator safety orientation and on-site safety review in industry-standard “tailgate” format. To improve administrative coordination between the Gerlach and San Francisco offices, the OSHA 300 log has been switched to an on-line system to allow for auditing and compliance regardless of where the incident takes place. Miscellaneous safety enhancements added this year included a safety siren for the Nevada Properties work ranch and unique blue shirts for DPW first responders, for easy identification of work crew trained in basic emergency care.

2007 plans include review of all workspaces for proper safety equipment, as well as document handling and storage improvements.