I am proud to announce the second American National Standard whose task group I led across the finish line, ANSI ES1.40-2023, Event Security.  I’m going to explain the process of creating a consensus industry standard so you know why it is trustworthy.  

First, the Event Safety Working Group (that’s the “ES” in the document name), a joint effort by the Event Safety Alliance (“ESA”) and the Entertainment Services and Technology Association (“ESTA”), approves the creation of a new task group and its leader(s). Then we fill the group with subject matter experts and other people who would use the standard, to make sure we are speaking clearly to our intended audience. Once we have enough smart friends willing to contribute their free time (emphasis on free, as none of this is paid and we pay to be members of the Working Group), then we create and polish an outline until we think we know what we can say with authority. Then come months of drafting, commenting, editing, and interesting conversations among the task group members. I like this part because it’s both where the learning happens and where the ideas start to look like a standard.  

When the task group is satisfied with our work, we face another tough audience – our colleagues throughout the event industry. The public review process is an essential part of the development of consensus industry standards, in which our work is vetted and challenged by the people who will be most directly affected by it. This part is nerve-wracking, because even a single negative public review comment sends the document back to the task group to address the concern and prepare comment resolutions. As much as I think I’m a concise and careful writer, and I have been blessed by critical readers in my task groups, with neither standard did I avoid getting sent back to the drawing board to fix errors of omission and commission.  

Both this new Event Security standard and its companion, ANSI ES1.9-2020, Crowd Management, took about four years from beginning to end. After so much work, I get impatient to receive final approval, but I (sometimes grudgingly) acknowledge that both standards are stronger thanks to this robust review and approval process.  

The event industry in the United States is governed by relatively few statutes or regulations at either the state or federal level, which I think is generally a good thing. Statutes and regulations, buffeted as they are by considerations unrelated to the merits or complexity of an industry practice, can be blunt instruments even in the hands of the most well-meaning elected officials. American National Standards, by starting from the premise that one size rarely fits all, are industry professionals’ best opportunity to articulate reasonable safety and security expectations, and to identify and prioritize risks and mitigation strategies at our events.

I am such a fan of this process and its results that I now lead the Parade Safety task group, the future ANSI ES1.41-202x. It’s not that I have too much time on my hand – I don’t. I just like working with smart friends.  

I hope you find these standards useful. Click on the ESTA Technical Standards Program web page to see all the standards available for free through the Event Safety Working Group. Pass them on to your colleagues. They could help save lives.