An event safety plan isn’t just essential, it’s a legal requirement. Ensuring the safety of your event workers and attendees is your legal responsibility, and not doing so could see you prosecuted and fined by the HSE. Unfortunately, coming up with an event management plan for event health and safety can be extremely difficult if you haven’t had much experience with it before. As we’ve helped more than a few companies and individuals in the past improve event safety with some of our products, we thought we’d share some of our own expertise. Take a look at how we suggest planning for health and safety when organising an event.
Assign event health and safety responsibility
The best way to manage health and safety in any environment is to make sure that there is someone there to manage it. Most health and safety failures simply come from misunderstanding, usually about who exactly is supposed to be monitoring risks and providing safety solutions. If everyone thinks someone else is responsible, then there’s never anyone responsible. Additionally, health and safety just isn’t a priority for many people, so it’s also important to make sure that there is someone to make sure everyone else is informed of health and safety practices and are actually sticking to them.
If you’re an event organiser or venue manager you should always be championing health and safety yourself, but assign lead health and safety responsibility to someone that has the time to plan for all aspects of health and safety. From there you can delegate individual duties and actions highlighted by your event management plan to other members in your team. Not only does this make the work more manageable but it also helps to keep event health and safety on everyone’s mind.
Perform your risk assessment
Your risk assessment will form the foundation of your health and safety policy and will help you list out all the people, facilities and resources you need to ensure successful event safety management. The premise of a risk assessment is easy; you’re simply looking to find all the potential hazards to workers and attendees at your event so you can then identify and implement solutions.
Of course, in practice, risk assessments can be extremely difficult and time-consuming. With so many potential hazards and risks, particularly at events where large numbers of people are around powerful electrics and dangerous equipment, it’s easy to miss potential hazards. Here are some of the key areas we think you should look at to help you identify all potential hazards.
Look at the event parameters
This just means the event itself. The location, size, length of the event and much more can all help determine the level and type of risk you may need to be aware of. For example, events such as festivals that may be spread over a few days and involve attendees and/or workers staying overnight will have different risks and require different facilities to a one-day event. Similarly, a craft event made up mostly of stalls and marquees is likely to have very different hazards to a large music event with staging, rigs and electronics. Even just a safety plan for outdoor events will be vastly different from indoor ones.
Go through your event parameters and think about what hazards each one presents and who could be harmed.
- How long is the event? What facilities to people need for the necessary time period?
- How big is the event? What is the scale of risk?
- When is the event? Will the weather or time of day present certain risks?
- What equipment is being used at the event? What risks does this equipment pose?
- Will there be heavy machinery or vehicles at the event?
- How many people will be there? How will you manage the crowd?
- How will you help people if they do get injured or ill?
Look to the relevant parties
There are also various groups and people you can look to that can help you identify potential hazards as well as provide specific solutions. Utilise as many of these people as you can as they can all help you keep your event as safe as possible.
- Employees – consult your employees and event workers as they will probably be able to help you identify what could be dangerous for them, or what could be dangerous to others as a result of their own work.
- Venue owner and management – anyone that owns and controls the building or areas your event is being held will likely already have their own risk assessment and health and safety plan specifically for the building or location.
- Emergency services – police, ambulance and fire services are always keen to make sure that events are as safe as possible so they’re usually more than happy to consult with you on potential hazards and help provide solutions. The more informed they are, the better!
- Local authority – the local Safety Advisory Group can provide advice and information relevant to your planning to help you understand your legal requirements and control other risks.
Write your event safety plan
Once you have identified your hazards you can write your policy or safety plan, which basically means identifying relevant solutions to all your risks as much as possible. You can never completely take out all risk from an event and some hazards will also pose some level of threat but the important thing is to ensure you have done all you can and within reason. The main thing is writing down your solutions in your policy so that everyone can refer back to it and have a clear understanding of potential hazards to they too can help to mitigate these as required.
Choosing your contractors
Events usually involved contractors and while you can’t be entirely responsible for the actual work these contracts do, you can make sure that you try and seek out the safest contractors from the beginning. Ask prospective contractors what their current health and safety policy is and what their plans would be to meet your specific health and safety concerns. They should be able to show experience and understanding of their work within the context of health and safety. They should also be able to prove that the workforce as the relevant training and experience as well as the right resources to do the level of work properly. Evidence and examples of previous work will also help to ensure they can complete the work safely.
Develop an emergency plan
Planning for incidents and emergencies is one of the most important aspects of event health and safety. Because there will always be some level of risk and certain hazards that you can’t entirely mitigate or prevent, there is always the chance that someone may be injured or there will be an accident that you will have to respond to quickly to reduce subsequent harm. This is where working with emergency services can help, as they can ensure that there are relevant services ready to respond as quickly as possible. You’ll also want to think about first aid at the event so you can help with smaller injuries or illness properly.
- Fire – planning for fire is especially important in event safety management where there are large crowds making it more difficult to plan fire routes. Ensure there are adequate escape exist and local fire services have been informed.
- Weather – this is particularly important when creating a safety plan for outdoor events. Have you planned for the chance of heavy rain which could lead to flooding or storms that could pose an electrical risk?
- Injury and illness – are there experienced medical personnel with the right resources on hand to provide both minor and urgent medical care in the event of injury or illness?
Review, review, review!
Once you have your event management plan and health and safety policy in place including your emergency plan, don’t forget to constantly review and change your policy as required. Hazards and risks may change as your event planning evolves and you may spot some hazards at a later stage that you didn’t immediately spot in your first risk assessment. As well as reviewing yourself, have others review your policy as well.
Once you’ve got your plans in place and have identified relevant safety solutions in your policy you can then begin to put these in place for your event. Some of these may simply be informing employees and others of potential risks, or it may including signage to make sure attendees are also aware of risks and hazards. There may also be some equipment that you can get to help reduce risks, such as speed bumps in car parking areas to reduce speed and cable protectors to help you protect all your staging equipment cables and reduce trip hazards. Take a look at our workplace safety equipment and road safety supplies to see if there are any hazards you could reduce and even avoid.