Systemic Organizational Failure Root Cause: Safety as a Standard, Part 2

In the previous post, I discussed OSHA relative to its reliability as a standard on which to judge the applicability of safety concepts. One way of looking at the field of safety is how to implement OSHA standards effectively, comprehensively, intelligently, and organically.

With any type of measurement, whether quantitative with a ruler or qualitative with a checklist, it is important that the tool being used is “inertial”. If PPE should be used in one situation, then it should continue to be used in other situations with the same circumstances (insofar as the PPE situation is concerned). As I talk about systemic failures, this will become more obvious. One of the issues with Systems is that they involve multiple parts. So let’s look at a potential example.

I do not have internal documents to verify the statements in this news article. And what the statements primarily do is raise questions which would require more documentation to verify (if possible). In the news article, “The Same Security Company For Dave Chappelle’s Show Also Oversaw The Deadly Astroworld Festival” by Brianna Sacks of Buzzfeed News, a number of red flags appear.

Red Flags:

  • “But over the past decade, hundreds of people have been injured and dozens have died at events where CSC was among the vendors who provided security…”
  • “has also been sued dozens of times by attendees, employees, and victims’ families for claims including negligence, personal injury, battery, and assault, as well as labor law violations”
  • “Some cases are ongoing, and in others, CSC has denied allegations of wrongdoing and settled” [Note: This point is important that CSC could be misrepresented by this article. While I am using the article’s information to illustrate my points, be mindful that for our purposes this is a theoretical exercise.]
  • “A review of CSC’s online job postings, employee reviews, and court documents, as well as interviews with two people familiar with CSC operations, show that the company hires inexperienced people to staff its events.”
  • “Two people familiar with the hiring process also said CSC has sometimes failed to adequately train staff on how to handle potentially dangerous situations.”

The history and responses of organizations contracting with this company include:

  • “A spokesperson for the Hollywood Bowl, which has worked with CSC for years, said the venue is reviewing its “existing procedures both internally and with the assistance of outside experts.” It has also “implemented additional security measures, including an increased number of security personnel on-site to assist with bag checks and other security procedures,” the spokesperson said.” [Note: There’s no discussion in this quote on modifying the contract]
  • “CSC is now one of the nation’s largest security companies, with about 50 branch locations across the US and Canada and 60,000 workers, according to its LinkedIn. For over five decades, CSC has provided security services for five presidential inaugurations, two FIFA World Cups, 31 Super Bowls, and nine Olympic Games.” [Note: A statistical analysis can be made regarding safety performance across a data set this size.]
  • “CSC has worked with Live Nation for at least a decade, and one of CSC’s Facebook pages states that it “provides crowd management services” for the promotion giant. Live Nation Entertainment and its subsidiary Live Nation Worldwide have also been linked to at least 750 injuries and around 200 deaths in seven countries since 2006, according to the Houston Chronicle and a letter from congressional lawmakers.” [Note: There is no indication that Live Nation will be reviewing CSC like the Hollywood Bowl is reviewing its security.]
  • ““We plan for practically everything, but you don’t plan for something you can’t control, like a guy off-property,” he said. “That’s pretty devastating, and there’s just no real reason for that kind of insanity.” In September 2020, MGM, Live Nation, and CSC settled with 4,400 people impacted by the mass shooting for $800 million.” [Note: With regard to the Las Vegas massacre, it is not clear what details were involved in this incident that CSC could have done.]
  • “Live Nation and CSC have denied wrongdoing in the Astroworld case…In a letter to Live Nation last December, members of Congress raised concerns about whether the company “took adequate steps to ensure the safety of the 50,000 concertgoers who attended Astroworld Festival,” citing reports that the security was “inexperienced or ill-equipped.” The letter also noted that “the tragedy at Astroworld Festival follows a long line of other tragic events and safety violations involving Live Nation.” An investigation by the House Oversight Committee is ongoing, and a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that lawmakers are working on a bipartisan basis to “obtain answers.”” [Note: There is no information as to whether a contract review of CSC is being undertaken by NRG Park; however, there is a conflict of interest in the form of Mr. Seyth Boardman.]
  • “Some CSC workers have also raised concerns on Glassdoor, a jobs site where employees can leave anonymous reviews for companies. CSC has 3.8 stars and many reviewers praise the flexibility, the ability to see concerts, and “easy-going staff.” But others have complained about the low pay, lack of breaks, and lack of training…Gil Fried, an expert in crowd management who wrote a textbook called Academy for Venue Safety and Security, said it is not a safe business practice to hire inexperienced workers for major events. “Hiring, training, and supervising people that are working on the front lines is the most critical element of any crowd management plan,” he said. “The more time you spend investing in people, the better. That will help create the safest environment possible.””

There is no indication that the described company in this article has learned from previous incidents regarding employee training; it is a repeatable pattern throughout the article. This a clear red flag. The conflict of interest at Astroworld is also a red flag. Reporters looking into entities hiring the described company should inquire about the safety verbiage in the contracts. If none are reviewing this section for new contracts, the potential that a systemic failure is occurring is significant. Naturally, more information, fundamental source documentation, is needed to determine if the risk is real.