New for 2002 was the creation of the Burning Man Safety Committee. The Safety Committee is a multi-disciplinary, multi-departmental effort to create a safer work and play environment for our staff and our event, by developing a safety-conscious culture within all departments of Burning Man. Key members of the committee include members of the following departments and work groups: Burning Man board members, Emergency Services, risk management, Rangers, Business Services, DPW, and DPW’s safety coordinators.
The initial primary focus of the committee was to oversee the progress and process of the DPW’s safety coordinators. This small team of dedicated staff created all the necessary documentation to create an OSHA-compliant workplace and a training program for the DPW volunteers with a strong emphasis on safety. They created a manual and a training program, and started work on a safety video for all DPW volunteers and artists who utilize the DPW and the work ranch as a resource. They spent hours in meetings developing processes to educate everyone that comes to the work ranch. Special procedures were developed for use of heavy equipment including training and certifications. An EMT was added to the seasonal work ranch positions and compliance with fire regulations was begun.
One of our largest achievements was to design a paper trail for work-related injuries for the entire organization, and initiated it by training all project managers. Safety updates became a regular agenda item at all quarterly staff meetings, and meeting notes from the safety committee were distributed on our staff-announcement list throughout the year. We are on our way to a culture of safety; we had only one serious work-related injury this year.
The Safety Committee also updated Burning Man’s disaster contingency plans, which prepare the organization to handle large-scale problems like floods or other natural disasters.
Currently, the committee is writing a Burning Man safety manual, conceptually designing an infirmary for the DPW work ranch, and developing a policy to address workplace violence. Our goals for 2003 include expanding the educational resources created by the DPW to the rest of the organization. We intend to increase the amount and quality of training, ensure that our office environments are safe, and further our efforts toward creating a culture of safety in what may seem to be one of the most high-risk art events around.