Whether you’re organising a non-league football match with 200 spectators or a major festival with 50,000 people in attendance, planning for event safety is absolutely key. A safe, secure event plays a critical role in making it a successful one, ensuring your customers return in future. Let’s be honest, no one wants another Fyre Festival on their hands. Not only that, but by law as an event organiser, you have prime responsibility for attendees, contractors and employers. It’s not something to take lightly.
If you’re not a specialist in event safety like our team at Newman Event Services, it can be hard to know where to start. Ultimately, steps should be taken to prevent harm to anyone present at the event and to cover any emergency situations should they occur. This isn’t just during the event either; it’s vital planning covers the entire occasion from concept to delivery. We’ve put our heads together to provide you the information you need on how to create an event safety plan and what you need to consider.
Planning event safety
You won’t be surprised to hear that the core amount of event safety planning is done during the planning stage. This is an opportunity to delve into the details, ensuring you have comprehensive plans in place to respond to every type of situation. Here at Newman Event Services, we’re highly experienced working with everything from music concerts and festivals to sporting competitions and local elections. Whatever the event, event safety planning is still important. We liaise with our customers from the very beginning, ensuring no stone is left unturned. Attention to detail is so important, therefore there’s a number of areas you need to cover.
How suitable is your venue?
You can be the best event safety planner in the world but if the venue you’re working with isn’t suitable for the event at hand, you’ll have a struggle on your hands. It’s vital that the venue or site being used is suitable for the specific event and safe enough for attendees to use without fearing for their safety. For example, an arena with porous borders and poorly managed ingress/egress points can quickly become dangerous, with no control on who should or shouldn’t be present.
To start with, analyse the profile of your event and what will be taking place. Think about whether the event will be held inside or outdoors, if the audience will be seated or standing and the type of people in attendance. For example, an agricultural show will be a lot less rowdy and active than a heavy metal concert. It’s also important to consider the event’s capacity, the audience’s age demographic and how many staff you’ll need to manage it. Finally, think about the duration of the event and when it’ll take place during the year.
Once you’ve considered these points, start to compile a site plan. This ought to be quite detailed and made available to all of the staff working onsite, whether they’re your own staff or third-party contractors. When analysing the site, review the capacity and whether attendees can be safely accommodated. Any risks of overcrowding should certainly be identified. In the event of an emergency, paramedics, the police or the fire brigade would quickly need to deploy. Therefore, make sure there is sufficient access to the venue for both vehicles and pedestrians, with plenty of emergency exits on-hand to extract everybody quickly and safely should you be required to do so. Don’t forget access for disabled customers, wheelchairs and pushchairs either.
When building out the site plan, assess any existing hazards that need to be mitigated or removed. Is there anything that could interfere with your event structures? Has the site historically been vulnerable to inclement weather such as high winds? All important questions that need to be considered. Finally, identify how close the nearest hospital and emergency services station is to your site and whether your customers will be able to reach it easily via public transport. Again, this relates to the type of event and who is attending. A business conference may attract the majority of delegates in their own private vehicles, whereas a all-day festival will likely attract people via public transport and taxi if they wish to consume alcohol.
Undertake risk assessments
No doubt that during the construction of your site plan, potential hazards arose that would need to be mitigated. It’s at this point that thorough risk assessments need to be done for the entire event covering numerous disciplines including health and safety, crowd management, event security and traffic control.
When conducting risk assessments, consider the following hazards and the actions required to mitigate them:
Who will be attending the event? As we mentioned earlier, the attendees at a heavy metal concert are much more likely to be actively dancing and moshing against the calmer, relaxed vibe of an agricultural festival. This may then raise the risk of overcrowding and crushing. If the site is serving alcohol, you’ll also need to take into consideration how your staff will respond to any drunken behaviour.
Whether it’s members of the crew shifting large audio equipment, front of stage pit barrier staff handling crowd surfers or catering staff replenishing supplies, there will be occupational hazards that require taking into account. Therefore, a risk assessment will need to be made to mitigate against the dangers from lifting something too heavy, carrying awkward kit or falling over cluttered areas. These aren’t the only things to consider though. If you’re serving hot and cold food, consider how staff will meet food safety and hygiene standards and prevent cross-contamination when it comes to food allergies. Nobody wants anyone to suffer from an anaphylactic shock.
Talking of equipment, it’s vital to ensure that the infrastructure around the event is safe and secure to prevent any unauthorised individuals gaining access. An often overlooked aspect of security and safety planning for events is the use of utilities to disrupt a function. Anything from a crowded room going dark or a rapid temperature change could quickly cause panic amongst an audience. Scarily enough, HVAC systems can even be used to deploy biological weapons. Therefore it’s essential only accredited staff have access to this kind of equipment.
This shouldn’t just be the sole focus though. Especially when it’s a concert or music festival, there’s often a huge amount of electrical equipment on-stage and around the site. It’s critical that procedures are put in place to prevent the equipment from getting wet and that only approved event maintenance staff have access. All event structures such as rigging should also be rigorously assessed to ensure it’s safe throughout the duration of the event.
No matter how robust our event safety plans are, injuries will occur at events. Unfortunately, it’s human nature that someone will be a little over-exuberant and hurt themselves or others in one way or another. Therefore, make sure you have a sufficient number of first-aid qualified professionals onsite and that the venue can easily be accessed by the emergency services. It’s also important to ensure sufficient fire protocols are in place to ensure there are enough fire extinguishers around the venue and that smoking is restricted.
The weather & environment
No one can control the weather, however you can plan for particularly poor conditions. The ground could become muddy after rainfall, causing an increased number of slips and falls. High winds can also affect the stability of structures such as stage lighting and rigging. If you’re blessed with a particularly hot summer day, then people and equipment overheating can quickly occur. Make sure all the relevant measures are in place to mitigate any of these occurrences.
Finally, think about the environment. The unfortunate nature of events is that they do cause damage, particularly with an increase in litter. Ensure there are sufficient areas for waste disposal around the site and that measures are in place to recycle where possible. Your clean-up team will also be grateful for this proactivity when it comes to tidying up after the event.
Have a Crisis Management Plan
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a concert, festival or sporting competition, a crisis management plan should be factored into every event strategy. However unlikely it may seem, it’s important not to rest on your laurels. It’s vital to have a contingency plan in place in order to act effectively if an incident occured.
Consider what you’d do in a number of potential emergency situations, including inclement weather, a terror attack or a stage collapse. By doing this, you can prepare an appropriate response for each scenario, ensuring the relevant stakeholders involved know exactly what they need to do. Every emergency situation is unique and constantly evolving, however it’s vital that measures to mitigate them are in place.
Think about how you’ll raise the alarm, what channels you’ll use to inform the public and how you’ll deploy your onsite emergency response. Identify how you’ll engage the emergency services, the plans in place to manage the crowd during an evacuation and how traffic will be controlled throughout this period. Remember, it’s essential that emergency vehicles can gain access as people leave. You also need to consider how you’ll handle casualties and ensure enough medical supplies are in place to be used by people qualified in first-aid.
Deploy health and safety trained staff
Unfortunately, all those hours performing risk assessments and carefully crafting a crisis management plan will be for nothing if your staff are unable to implement them. Remember, the primary purpose of your event safety plan is to prevent things from happening in the first place, rather than solving them when they happen. That’s why it’s critical to have clear, open communication with your teams so that they’re fully up to date with any changes and procedures. It is also essential that they are trained comprehensively in health and safety from minor situations to major emergencies.
Risks constantly change as the very nature of events is fluid. Therefore, don’t think that just because you identified them before the event, you have everything covered during it. Remain on top of safety checks throughout its duration, deploying highly-trained staff to perform detailed checks at regular intervals. Get them to sign off a comprehensive checklist to prove sufficient checks have been made. This is vital as it forms a paper trail showing all risks have been mitigated as much as possible.
Finally, alongside the friendly guidance of your trained staff, ensure your attendees know the relevant health and safety information via sufficient signs, notices and announcements.
Event safety is critical in making an event successful
Planning event safety is time consuming and difficult but the results are worth it. If your event delivers a world-class occasion where everybody has enjoyed themselves and can go home safely, your reputation can certainly be enhanced. Hopefully, you’ve now developed a more comprehensive understanding of how to create an event safety plan. For many event organisers, they have enough on their plate promoting the event and ensuring ticket sales are performing without the complexity of managing their entire event safety too. That is why our experts at Newman Event Services are on-hand to deliver comprehensive event safety services from concept to delivery. With over 50 years of combined event safety expertise in our management team alone, we have become the trusted partner of choice for a number of public and private sector organisations across the United Kingdom.
If you’re looking for a reputable provider of event safety solutions, contact our experts today on 01295 722844 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion about how we can help you.