What a summer we have ahead of us after two years of staying at home and events being cancelled. From street parties marking The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to festivals of all sizes – from giants such as Glastonbury to village fetes.
But, whatever the size of the event, we all want the same outcome – perfect weather conditions (although that can’t be controlled) and a memorable occasion for all the right reasons (which we can control).
So, when planning an event, whatever the size, good health & safety measures are essential. Usually this means having a dedicated team responsible for the health and safety of the event. You will also need to liaise with:
- venue owners
- emergency services
- the local authority including licensing and Environmental Health
It can be overwhelming if you are new to the world of event planning, and even if you are not there’s still a lot to remember. Here are our top 10 health & safety tips to consider when planning your event:
- Event Location
Many locations require permission to be used, so in order to avoid getting off on the wrong foot from the start make sure you contact the land or property owner. If you are planning a street party or need to close a road, then contact your local authority who will also be able to give you further guidance about managing the event.
- Risk Assessment
It doesn’t matter what type of event you are planning, it’s vital to consider the possible risks for all phases, from site preparation to site clear up. You are required to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of:
- The health and safety risks to which volunteers/workers are exposed
- The health and safety risks to everyone attending the event
There are four key elements you need to consider in your risk assessment – they are:
- Identify the hazards – everything from slips and trips to gas safety, working at height and electrical equipment etc.
- Decide who may be harmed and how
- Assess the level of risk
- Identify, implement and record precautions
Third party suppliers, such as those supplying equipment, activities or operating attractions should provide you with their own risk assessments.
- Emergency Arrangements
You will also need to prepare for emergencies, such as fire safety risks, crowd control, first aid and lost children by pulling together a safety management plan, as well as making sure you have comprehensive insurance in place just in case something does go wrong. When planning for emergencies:
- Appoint people to be responsible for implementing the emergency procedures in the event of an accident or emergency situation
- Have clear management structure in place, identifying the key decision makers
- Ensure that plans are discussed with the police, fire and rescue service and the ambulance service
- Agree with the emergency services on issues such as access routes to the site, rendezvous points and transfer of authority for a major incident from the event organiser to the emergency services
- Fire Safety
When it comes to fire safety you need to consider the fire safety risks and have a fire evacuation procedure, especially if:
- lighting beacons
- using fireworks
- having a BBQ
- using gas cylinders
Don’t forget to consider people with mobility issues, the elderly and children as they may need additional assistance. Think about any specific fire safety precautions that need to be taken to prevent or mitigate a fire. It’s also essential to have people with appropriate training who can act as fire wardens.
- Food Safety
A one-off street party or small community event where food is sold or given away to attendees probably doesn’t require formal registration. However, organisers do need to heed basic food hygiene rules such as hand washing facilities and safe storage/cooking of food. For larger events, organisers should check with their local authority on whether they need to register their food offer and if using established food businesses, they must all be registered with their own local authority. Before serving any food, you must also consider food allergies and intolerances by making sure you have signage asking attendees to discuss their allergy requirements and ensuring ingredients are clearly labelled on menus, tables and food stalls, so that people are fully aware.
If you are intending to sell alcohol at your event, it may need a license, and you should contact your local council, police and environmental health to make them aware. You must do this by making an application and completing a temporary event notice form, for which there is a small fee.
Although rain can put a dampener on an event, windy conditions are usually far more disruptive especially if you are using inflatables, such as bouncy castles, or planning a fire work display.
Do you have a Plan B if any activity has to change due to poor weather? Ensure all temporary structures such as marquees, gazebos or attractions, such as bouncy castles, are well tethered so they don’t run the risk of blowing away, which can cause serious injury and don’t forget to make sure that bouncy castles are deflated in windy conditions.
When it comes to firework safety, wind direction is the number one consideration. If it’s forecast to be blowing towards the crowd then even a light wind of 5mph can be an issue. Think about who will operate the display. Remember you can light a display yourselves provided it only contains fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3, but category 4 fireworks may only be used by professional firework display operators. In untrained hands they can be lethal!
Barriers at events are commonplace and used to line routes, control crowds and prevent injuries. Your risk assessment should determine what barriers you need and where. Consider:
- The planned use of barriers
- Ground conditions and landscape
- Load on the barrier – wind and/or crowd pressure
- Attendee numbers and behaviour
- Vehicle movement and access
- Safety signs and information notices
Clear signage is key to running a safe and successful event. You may need to provide signage not only onsite or in and around the venue but on the approach to the event. Consider:
- Information points
- First aid station
- Meeting place for lost children
- Lost/found property; toilets and exits
- Emergency information
Any event creates noise, so in order to keep your neighbours happy and avoid complaints, communication is key to keeping local residents and businesses happy. Make sure they are aware of your event and if necessary you may have to compromise some of your plans to maintain good working relationships.
If you are planning an event and need expert advice or training then our team are on hand to help by calling us on 020 7244 1900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We have also produced a handy checklist on how to Organise A Safe Event.