Can I use a curtain side trailer as a stage?

Curtain sided trailers are popular at smaller outdoor events including small village fetes, food festivals and smaller organised music festivals. They are easy to get from local haulage companies at a small cost. But that is where the advantages end.

Should I use a curtain side trailer as a stage

The simple answer is no, they are dangerous. More importantly there are a number of issues around safety and non compliance of British Standards and Building regulations. Based on stability, construction, non public access and weather protection.

The Health and Safety Executive has the power to close full event sites where stages are being used that are deemed unsafe. 

Here are 6 reasons why you should not use a curtain sided trailer as a stage.

1. Curtain sided trailers have no way of anchoring themselves to the ground and can move around on their suspensions, causing people on the floor of the trailer to become unstable on their feet. They do not have a recognised stability certificate which identifies in what strengths of wind the trailer is safe to use.

Acts bouncing about on the stage will cause motion on the trailer that could cause people to fall down or off the stage.

 

2. Fabrics and sheeting material need to resist or allow for wind forces and have a flame-retardant certificate. A guide to the use and management of stages which has been endorsed by the HSE can be downloaded see reference below (*1.3) 

Stages that are purpose built are designed to allow for specific wind tolerances. Using a transport trailer is a blind guess on how it would cope with wind gusts. 

 

3. Transport trailers has no load bearing certificate which is specific to when the trailer is being used as a stage.

If you put people and equipment on the stage which is mostly sat on large tyres, how stable will it be.

 

4. The trailers don’t have adequate or designated safety barriers. Or safety certified access steps up to the trailer floor. Steps to a working height of 0.8m or more must comply with Building Regulations (*1.1) and British Standards BS EN 1004 (*1.2).

When using a transport trailer most events people make their own steps, which in most cases will not be safe or protect the event organiser from injury claims.

 

5. Curtain sided trailers do not have an adequate provision to protect the users from the weather and elements. Which means they are unsafe to carry electrical equipment that is not IP rated. 

Driving rain would completely cover the stage area due to the reduced depth of the stage. Making the stage unsafe for acts and crew.

 

6. Acts do not like performing on curtain side trailers. Bands struggle because of the depth of the trailer. Drums have to be offset on the stage and not behind which creates an unbalanced sound.   

Unhappy performers usually means a less than 100% performance. 

We recently contacted the HSE for guidance and this was the reply;

A basic curtain side trailer would not suitable equipment to act as a mobile stage, in most cases and there are available trailers specifically designed for use in this way; it is these that should be used\hired for an event.

Without a suitable assessment of the stage requirements a normal curtain sided wagon trailer should not be used, as there will be better options.  Where a curtain sided trailer is to be used then the risk assessment identifying this should contain information as to why a stage specific trailer is not suitable.

Advice Officer, HSE Bootle

References

1.1 – HM Government (2013). The Building Regulations 2010. Approved Document K: Protection from falling, collision and impact. Available at: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/443181/BR_PDF_AD_

1.2 – BS EN 1004:2004: Mobile access and working towers made of prefabricated elements. Materials, dimensions, design loads, safety and performance requirements. London: BSI, 2005

1.3 Guidance for the Management & Use of Stages 

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2569/3604/files/Event-Structures-Guidance-2015.pdf?9803901690152271720