Tuesday Tips: Event Safety

Since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, incorporating health and safety planning into the organisation of any event has never been more important. This is such a huge topic to cover, and we tailor and health and safety response to each event, however here are a few of our key processes that we use when planning any event or wedding for our clients.

Plan your event with safety in mind

As an event planner or manager you should be aware that each event (regardless of size) needs it’s own event specific safety plan, that becomes a living breathing document to help keep workers and attendees safe.

At each step of the event planning process we ensure that we have considered the potential risks to anyone on site, and have plans in place to either eliminate or minimise these risks. Thanking about event health and safety throughout the whole planning journey means that you are essentially building your event specific safety plan as you go.

When we set up our event specific safety plan templates we worked with a specialist company, All About People. The were fantastic in helping us to build out our process that can be applied to events of any size.

Know the venue

Before we start planning any event we either visit to the venue or in the interim, before a site visit can take place, we have the venue send us floor plans and any relevant evacuation or safety documentation so that we can incorporate this into the planning.

Knowing things about the venue such as maximum numbers, where the fire doors are, and/or what doors can’t be covered, along with evacuation and safety procedures right from the outset, allows you to plan the event with these things in mind from the start and you won’t have to go back and retrofit your safety plan.

Walk through to assess worker and guest safety

Plan a walk-through (or table top walk-through) to consider all the potential risks that your event workers or attendees could be exposed to. This should include  everything from pack in to pack out, or registration to the end of the event.

This walk though allows you to see potential bottlenecks of people and crowds, areas of high risk such as car parks or high traffic areas, and where the public may be able to access if crowd barriers are not in place, to name a few things.

Manage the crowd

You need to have mechanisms in place to manage your crowd and the plan you make will be dependent on the expected numbers, however a plan should be made for even the smallest of events. Think about how guests will enter into the venue or site, move around the venue or site, and exit the venue or site in a safe way. You can manage the crowd using crowd barriers, directional signage, or even people to direct traffic flow with arms and voices.

If you are expecting a large number of people, or a high volume of cars you will also need to include an internal (or possibly external) traffic management plan. Where possible, within the site, use directional signage and people to help direct cars into designated car parks in a safe and orderly manner/

Remember to have the same processes in place for when guests exit the venue, site or car parks.

Manage pack in / out

If you are working with a large number of exhibitors or event suppliers you will need to carefully manage the pack in and pack out of these organisations. Planning for this not only ensures efficient pack in and pack out that doesn’t leave people waiting around for lifts or trolleys, it also staggers the amount of people coming in and out of the venue (or setting up in each others way) at one time, keeping workers safe.

When you are sending briefing information to exhibitors or suppliers remember to include information about loading zones, parking spaces, and any other requirements that you have as part of the pack and a pack out of the event, for example staff are to wear in high viz vest or other PPE for pack in or out. Information about where the exhibitor or supplier should go on arrival for an induction to the venue is also important as no worker should begin onsite without a site induction.

Work with suppliers to assess their risks

Any suppliers or exhibitors that you were working with should provide you with a list of site or job specific risks that they are likely to bring into your event; during pack in, pack out or through the event itself. Once you have had a look over the risks you will be able to work with the sponsor or exhibitor to consider how you may minimise or eliminate these risks so no harm comes of anyone on your event site.

The risk analysis that the exhibitor or supplier provide you, along with any subsequent updates or documentation regarding management of these risks, should be incorporated into the overall event specific safety plan.

Have a process for recording incidents, accidents and near misses

Put a process in place for recording incidents, accidents and near misses and and empower everybody on site to record or notify these events. These records need to be kept in case they become required by Worksafe, in the case of a serious incident, and because they will help you to debrief your event objectively and use the information and learnings to improve safety and subsequent events.

It is not a competition to show that you have no incidents recorded, in fact it is helpful  if incidents are recorded to help with future planning and it also demonstrates to everybody you are working with that health and safety is a priority within your business.

Brief all workers and attendees

You should brief the workers and attendees of any event with the points of your health and safety planning that pertain to them.

Exhibitors and sponsors may receive an information pack on the health and safety processes and what is required of them in advance of the event, along with details of where to go for a site induction or to sign in to site each day. The site induction should cover evacuation procedures, how to report incidents, on site hazards, and any other site specific information. All people coming to work or exhibit within your event site should be given a site induction.

Attendees of an event can be given health and safety information that pertains to them via a number of methods; these include advanced messaging or emails that included answers to the frequently asked questions regarding the event, along with any specific information around ticketing, accessing the venue, and car parking arrangements.

For corporate events and weddings an MC may cover the key points regarding evacuation and location of toilets etc. as part of the housekeeping at the beginning of the event. Any information that is required regarding parking or  arrival at the event will need to be sent in advance, as it is needed before the MC will over off any event housekeeping.

Keep striving for improvement

The most important element of event safety is to keep striving for improvement. We can always learn of our past experiences, by sharing the experiences of others, or keeping up-to-date via attending seminars and presentations on the topic of Event safety.

Remember to self audit, or seek external advice, and update your safety plans regularly, even if the event is reoccurring and with the same group of suppliers or exhibitors, it should still be checked and updated each time you run the event.

By considering the above elements of health and safety within your event planning, you will be well on the way to delivering a safe and enjoyable event for everybody involved.

If we can help you with your event safety, please get in touch!

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