Health, safety and facilities: catering for Wembley Stadium
Landmarks jostle for position in the London skyline, but in the north-west of the city, one structure dominates the skyline. Best seen at night, when it glitters above the city, the Wembley Arch marks the location of the iconic Wembley Stadium. The stadium is home to the FA Cup Final, England national side games as well as concerts and holds 34 bars, 8 restaurants, 98 kitchens and 688 food and drink service points.
Delaware North is the sole operator for all hospitality and food services at Wembley Stadium, providing the catering and hospitality services in all premium, club and general areas. On event days, the company employs over 3,000 associates and manages seven restaurants, 160 boxes and over 100 general admission kiosks.
Bhaven Pandya is health, safety and facilities manager for Delaware North at Wembley Stadium. He speaks to Roz Sanderson, SHP, about how he moved from finance to health and safety, how facilities fits into his role, and how event days differ to normal working days.
What part does facilities play in your role at Wembley?
It’s a big part. I manage and maintain all the equipment – including fridges, freezers, cookers, ovens, Co2 lines, keg rooms that we use. I make sure all the equipment is working ready for the events. Wembley hosts loads of different events; as well as football matches, we hold NFL’s, rugby, concerts and any internal events for conferences, exhibitions and corporate events.
As part of my role I have to deal with any maintenance issues, making sure that all the kiosks and restaurants are maintained and safe to use at events and I also manage a cleaning contractor.
How did you start your career in health and safety?
I came from a finance background but always had a keen interest in health and safety because of the variety of the work, the health and safety law, risk assessing, accident investigation were all aspects of the job that I was interested in. I got professional advice on what I needed to do to get into health and safety, I self-funded my NEBOSH general certificate and got my first job as health and safety assistant for The City of London Corporation.
While working in health and safety in my previous roles, facilities was another department that I had to liaise with on a daily basis whether it was to do with building maintenance, contractor management, catering, equipment damage etc. It was during then that I started to take an interest in facilities.
When I’m dealing with any facilities issues the biggest concern is cost and the impact it may have on the company. We have back to back events and if any equipment is not working I need to consider whether there’s another solution if it can’t be fixed on time.
Then it comes to health and safety and whether it is a critical situation and will impact the safety of our staff. It’s finding the right balance, making decisions and most importantly coming up with creative solutions.
How much crossover is there between health and safety and the facilities management at Delaware North?
A lot! The sheer size of Wembley presents many challenges, whether it’s health and safety or facilities and naturally there is crossover. For example, we have many new temporary staff working in our food kiosks who are unfamiliar with the layout, equipment, working near keg rooms, so they need a health and safety induction; or there might be a situation where the fridge is leaking causing a slip hazard so I will call my contractors in to get the leak fixed and in the meantime have to ensure the surface is cleared to avoid any incidents.
How are the different risks managed?
We have a number of great teams working here and for me communication is the key, I need to know any safety or facilities issues as soon as possible so they can be resolved.
I speak to many different people from all levels from directors, heads of departments, cleaners, chefs, porters, logistics staff… the list goes on. I have to communicate health and safety in a manner they understand so when I’m giving a health and safety update to a director I have to be very detailed but if, for example, I’m speaking to the logistics team I have to simplify health and safety so they can understand. I have to tailor the advice to make sure it suits the target audience.
What is a normal day like for you?
Good question! A normal day will consist of checking out my contractors on site, risk assessing, checking my cleaning contractors, audit reports, accident investigation, equipment maintenance, training, safety inductions, meetings, meetings and more meetings!
On event days I have a great team of auditors who go around the stadium to carry out audits. They report back to me with any safety or facilities issues, which I then report back to the heads of departments for them to action. However if there is an urgent issue then I’ll resolve that straight away.
I also have a team of contractors on site who deal with any Co2 activations and I work very closely with them so we can respond to any alarms that are activated. I also liaise with event control who advise me on any safety critical issues that I need to deal with such as Co2 activations, fire alarms and serious incidents. This at times can be difficult to get to as getting from one side of the stadium to the other can be challenging, especially getting through the crowds at busy times.
On event days you will walk for miles and miles so comfortable shoes is a must! I much prefer event days as you don’t know what going to happen – so it’s certainly exciting!
What’s the best perk about your job?
Seeing matches and concerts – I’ve seen ACDC, England vs France, and NFL matches – however I usually only manage to catch it for two minutes or so!
Bhaven Pandya works for Delaware North, a global hospitality and food services company, as the facilities, health and safety officer based at Wembley Stadium.
He manages health, safety and facilities to all Delaware North operations at Wembley Stadium including safety managing 688 food & drink kiosks, 34 bars, 98 kitchens and 8 exclusive restaurants within Wembley Stadium catering for 90,000 people on event days & safety manage 3,500 staff on event days, safe and efficient operation of the site, project management, auditing, inspections, reviewing accident and incident trends.