Reopening your Orchestra, part 2 with Janet Sellery

Top 10 Learning Points from Janet Sellery – Reopening Your Orchestra, Part II

On September 10, health and safety expert Janet Sellery led an in-depth workshop with Orchestras Canada members and friends on risk assessment, planning, and preparing for the new normal in the time of COVID. While we urge you to review her PowerPoint deck, worksheets, and affiliated resources, OC’s friend Dr. Roydon Tse has prepared a summary of 10 key takeaways from the in-depth session. Thank you, Roydon! And thank you, Janet!

A Collective Commitment to Reopening Safely
At this moment, the priority is on keeping everyone healthy and safe, and – as conditions permit – creating an environment where patrons feel confident to return. A social contract where all parties agree to take precautions, understand their responsibilities, and have the tools and training necessary, will take time to build.

Know your rights and responsibilities
Be informed of your rights and responsibilities as an employee, employer, or engager, knowing that workers (paid and volunteer) have a right to participate, right to know, right to refuse work, and right to be free from reprisal should work be refused. It is the employer’s (engager’s) responsibility to provide a healthy and safe workspace.

Be informed of current Public Health restrictions
Inform yourself about the public health regulations and restrictions in your jurisdiction. Stay current on Federal, Provincial, and Municipal regulations as they evolve.

Create a COVID-19 leadership role in your organization
Whether you’re a large organization or a small one, it is best practice to identify someone in your group who can serve as the COVID-19 point person, to work closely with your stakeholder groups, your venue, and your community to enforce compliance with all protocols.

Know and Assess Risks
Take a detailed look at the various roles in your orchestra to identify tasks and their potential hazards. After conducting a risk assessment, plan the activities you can safely commence with, scaled to suit your capacity for compliance.

Eliminate, Control, and Prevent
Referring to the Hierarchy of Controls (referenced in Janet Sellery’s slide deck, and replicated below), start with an assessment of the hazards you might face, and determine which can be eliminated entirely, and which can be managed via engineering and administrative controls. PPE (“personal protective equipment”) should be used in combination with engineering and administrative controls: PPE are not a complete solution.

Consider Programming Re-design
Identify programming that can be presented safely and consider alternative programming to ensure the safety of all involved.

Prepare a Healthy Workplace
Implement steps and procedures for each activity to ensure all artists, workers, volunteers and patrons are safe, feel safe, and have adequate information and equipment to function safely. There may be a need to reassess existing schedules, create additional roles, and allocate additional resources to prepare a healthy workplace for all.

Watch out for “magical thinking”
We all want to return to “normal” as soon as possible: music is essential to our well-being as individuals and as communities. We miss it! But we need to be careful not to cherry-pick our information sources to justify our actions. Evaluate the credibility of your information sources: look for peer-reviewed research, undertaken as locally as possible, by academics and medical professionals.

Take Baby Steps
With so many details to manage, it’s best to plan a gradual and staged return to work. Test your procedures through small and controlled experiments. It is beyond important to get it right the first time: the best way to move forward is to take small, thoughtful steps first.

“If you can’t afford to do it safely, you can’t afford to do it at all.”


Session materials:

Reopening your Orchestra Janet Sellery presentation slides

OC Risk Assessment Janet Sellery-EN

OC COVID-19 Response Planning Janet Sellery EN

Orchestras Canada Reopening Resources Sept 10 2020

Community Theatre Reopening Guide Ontario Aug 10 2020

Risk Assessment Form inc Risk Rating Sept 10 2020