Information to assist people who run theatres in controlling the risks to those working in the theatre or attending productions.

What you should know:

What you must do:

Work at height

There is a legal hierarchy for selecting equipment for work at height, based on using the safest possible method of work that can reasonably and practicably be used in the circumstances:

Further information on working at height can be found in the ABTT Code of Practice for the selection and use of temporary access equipment for working at heights in theatres.

Manual handling

There is a large amount of manual handling involved in theatres, especially for travelling shows. Many loads are awkwardly shaped, heavy and often difficult to move in sometimes very confined spaces. This movement is often also done under time pressure. More than a third of the injuries reported annually to HSE are related to manual handling. These tend to be long-term injuries, which can have serious implications for those involved. Reducing the amount and severity of manual handling is a legal obligation. For more information, see:

Legal duties

There are legal duties on:


Employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees, while not exposing others to health and safety risks. As an employer, you must have systems in place to ensure that the risks presented by the work are assessed and either eliminated or controlled. There are a number of ways this can be done. Further help and information can be found in: Health and safety made simple.


Employees can expect their employers to take all reasonably practicable measures to ensure they can work without risk. Employees then have a duty to work carefully and co-operate with their employer to make sure both are complying with their respective legal duties.

Self-employed (freelance)

Self-employed people have duties to ensure they work safely so that their activities do not create risk to themselves or others. Remember, 'self- employed' has a different meaning in health and safety matters to that used in tax matters. Both employers and the self-employed should make sure they know their legal status and obligations under health and safety law. 

Person in charge of premises

Any person who allows people not employed by them to work in premises, such as a theatre, has duties to make sure:

Updated 2022-11-01