ESCA Releases White Paper Outlining Safety Measures for Producing Events During a Pandemic

TSE Staff
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DALLAS — The Exhibition Services and Contractors Association (ESCA) released a white paper that provides guidance on how contractors and partners can produce exhibitions during a pandemic.

The paper, entitled “Health & Safety Guidance for the Exhibitions Industry,” was the culmination of the work done by a 30-member committee of ESCA experts who came together to create best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during events.

In addition to working with each other on a regular basis to develop the paper, the group received input from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM).

Larry Arnaudet, ESCA’s Executive Director, described the process of creating the white paper this way: “Numerous conference calls ensued, and the recommendations and suggestions from all were vetted and incorporated into the document,” he said. “We kept IAEE, SISO and IAVM in the loop as the document grew and much appreciated all of their input. That being said, it is a ‘living document,’ meaning that it is continually being updated as additional important information becomes available to us.”

The white paper provides advice on several key areas, such as:

Personal protective equipment (PPE). Companies should provide PPE as recommended by federal, state and local guidelines to all employees and ensure that these items are reordered in a timely fashion when the supply is low. Employers should also provide instructions on how to properly use face coverings, including washing cloth masks after every use and ensuring that hands are washed or sanitized before putting any masks on.

Trade show layout. In order to promote physical distancing on a show floor, ESCA’s white paper suggests that companies increase the length of side-rails to eight feet, remove any booth properties or roadblocks that cause attendees to be too close together, and add markings on the show floor to direct the flow of traffic so all attendees move in the same direction while maintaining social distance.

Cleaning and disinfecting. Sanitizing stations should be placed around the floor throughout the duration of a show’s set up, event run and tear down. High-touch surfaces need to be disinfected regularly and workers should be reminded to frequently wash their hands for at least 20 seconds.

Decorating. All decorating materials — vinyl, metal, hard surfaces and fabric/textile surfaces — should be cleaned based on CDC guidelines, so companies should keep abreast of changes to these recommendations in order to ensure best practices are always being employed. Workers handling these materials should use appropriate PPE.

Floor coverings. Carpets should be sanitized and treated with an anti-microbial solution before a show, vacuumed daily during the show, and treated after the show before being rolled up and stored for future use. In addition, the ESCA suggests that hard surface floor coverings be disinfected and cleaned with peroxide every day for the length of an event.

In addition, the white paper includes advice concerning equipment, staff and labor, exhibitor order processing, and communication and education. Although the instructions are not specifically for other segments of the events industry, Arnaudet says that all stakeholders may be able to benefit from the information ESCA compiled.

“We were careful to ensure that the document and suggested guidance focuses specifically on official contractor operations. Venues, event organizers, exhibitors and attendees all have their own suggested practices focusing specifically on their part of the overall process of producing safe events. Nothing in our guidance addresses other parties’ operations,” he said. “However, at this time in our industry, inclusion is extremely important and critical to the success of any plan. We are hopeful that other segments of the industry will review our suggestions and proceed accordingly.”

Reach Larry Arnaudet at (972) 447.8210 or larry@esca.org.