Published on: 3 August 2022 by Michael Lamb
On the evening of July 28 2022 boy band Mirror were performing the fourth night of a concert run at the Hong Kong Coliseum when a large LCD screen fell from the ceiling seriously injuring a dancer. Videos of the accident quickly spread on local social media channels while the injured performer was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he was admitted to the intensive care unit in a stable condition.
The thoughts and prayers of the entire staff at CCW Global go out to the injured performer and their family.
The probe into the horrifying accident is ongoing, with particular attention being paid towards the possibility of negligence or criminal liability, in addition to exploring whether the employing producer had taken all necessary steps to fully protect their staff. In a preliminary investigation on July 29 2022, Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Kevin Yeung stated that it appeared two cables had snapped, causing the screen to fall. However, he also said that it was too soon to determine who, if anyone, was at fault.
At present it is unclear whether the dancers are even considered “employee’s” of the concert promotor and the band, or if they were “independent contractors.” Under Hong Kong Law all employees must be covered by a mandatory Employee’s Compensation Insurance policy – through which they would be entitled to compensation in exactly this situation. As the situation stands, however, a Labour Department investigation, and possibly even legal proceedings, are required to ascertain if the dancers were “hired” by the concert organizers.
This tragedy is a reminder that even in a controlled situation accidents with dangerous (and even deadly) outcomes can occur. Following the disaster that was Travis Scott’s AstroWorld Festival in November 2021 which left 18 people dead, the Mirror accident should be a clarion call to all producers and organizers of any event to look towards protecting their interests, the safety of their audience, and the safety of performers and talent.
No event organizer or producer wants to put on a show where the end result is a serious accident or the death of one of the participants. Unfortunately, however, even with the best intentions and the biggest safety budget possible, accidents can occur despite the precautions you take.
While many venues will require the purchase of a 3rd party liability insurance policy when hiring the space for an event, there are far more risks associated with most events than that of a 3rd party becoming injured. As we’ve seen in the last week with the Mirror Band Accident, from fixtures, to fittings, and even performers personal accident protection or employee’s compensation coverage, there are going to be many moving parts in determining fault and assigning liability.
Any organizer producing an event will normally need to purchase liability insurance. This is a fairly standard practice for venues globally and any event will likely be put on with some form of third-party liability protection.
Public Liability insurance for the purposes of event coverage will normally provide protection for accidental bodily injury and damage to property for both the venue and audience. Most Public Liability Insurance policies covering events will specifically exclude liability arising from bodily injury to employees of the organizer, where the bodily injury occurred as part of their employment. Further to this, most leading Event Insurance Underwriters will classify “employees” for the purposes of liability claims as
Because of this, and in the case of the Mirror band catastrophe, the dancer who was injured by the LCD would be excluded from coverage under most event liability insurance policies provided in Hong Kong. Whether the dancer is determined to be an employee or independent contractor, because they were performing at the direction of the concert producer.
Ensuring that your performers are able to receive proper compensation and medical treatment in the event of an accident should be a paramount concern for promoters and producers – especially as events are increasingly occurring after a lengthy hiatus.
Employees of the production company should be covered by an adequate Employees’ Compensation Insurance policy. As per Hong Kong Law and the Labour Department Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, any individual being paid to work in any capacity should be covered by EC insurance. Taking out an EC policy for all workers and performers at an event is often the simplest solution to ensuring those individuals have access to financial support in the event of an accident while protecting against your liability as an organizer.
However, as we’ve seen in the Mirror Band accident, performers are often classed as self-employed contractors meaning that producers (who are liable for the safety of the events they hold) often have no protection for those individuals. Lengthy court cases are required to identify the proximate cause for accidents of these types and establish liability, but as the ultimate authority on any given event it is the producer, or their production company, who is normally financially responsible at the end of the day, many years later.
A solution to this, outside of adding performers to an Employees’ Compensation Insurance policy, is to extend any insurance covering an event with personal accident protection.
This is actually extremely common and easy for many specialized event insurance products and leading event insurance underwriters often offer the ability to add Personal Accident insurance for participants to event insurance coverage at policy inception. Covering death, permanent and temporary disability, and medical fees, personal accident insurance ensures that the producer or production company is fulfilling their financial obligations towards performers who suffer an accident or injury during their event, while protecting their own liability.
While there are often budget concerns towards adding personal accident coverage on the insurance taken out for any given event, there are far greater financial concerns should an accident happen and such protection not exist. The individual or entity found ultimately responsible for the Mirror accident will likely have to pay for the medical costs, and loss of earnings suffered by the performer if no insurance is identified to exist for their benefit.
The gruesome accident which caused severe injury to the dancer at the Mirror concert was caused by a falling LCD screen.
As a promotor/producer/organizer of a concert or event you are responsible for the equipment used. This most often involves the hiring of expensive production equipment. From stage dressings, to audio visual devices (including speakers and light projectors), and even TV screens, what happens to that equipment will be your responsibility – whether it is equipment hired out by the venue or a third party, it is under your care for the duration of your event.
In addition to the primary concern of life threatening and lifelong disability to the performer, there will be compensation demands from the owners of any equipment damaged in last Thursday’s accident.
Event Insurance plans offer coverage beyond the human side of a performance. From entrusted property, facilities and sets, and the additional costs you may encounter in the production of an event, there is a large amount of financial exposure. If not properly secured that exposure presents a significant risk which can destroy any profit, and in some cases has historically forced production companies to shut down completely.
Taking every step to fully insulate a production from any and all risks it may face is a valuable lesson to learn from last’s week’s accident.
CCW Global can assist organizers and producers of events in Hong Kong and across Asia in finding comprehensive insurance coverage to protect against most of the commonly encountered risks. Our expert Insurance Brokers are able to work with you to build a bespoke package of protection for your next event.
For more information or to request a free no-risk, no-obligation consultation to discuss how event insurance could best work for you, please Contact Us Today.