Safety at events

28 June 2023

Risk management and events, how to protect your staff, visitors and volunteers.

Brightly coloured bunting hanging up at outdoor event

Planning an event

Many organisations host events either as part of their normal activities, to build morale amongst staff or to raise funds for good causes. They can be quite diverse in nature from concerts, fêtes, and firework displays to charity walks etc.

Most of the time, such activities represent little or no additional risk. However, larger events or those involving unusual activities can present more significant ones. These will need to be properly managed to ensure people remain safe.

Managing health and safety at events

Whatever the event, you should:

  • Plan for the event
    The level of detail of this should be proportionate to the scale of the event and the degree of risk associated with it
  • Plan for incidents and emergencies
    So that you can respond promptly in an appropriate manner. Again, this will be dependent upon the level of risk presented by any event.
  • Manage the event so that it runs safely
    Here you may need to ensure adequate coordination of the activities; provide training for employees and volunteers; monitor the precautions you have put into place and so on.

In many cases, you will need to:

  • Consider the viability of hosting the event you want to hold, given the venue, resources, and expertise available to you
  • Decide if you need more specialist advice on health and safety
  • Check to see if you need a license to run the event
  • Check that your insurance cover and that of others is adequate for the event
  • Check other contract arrangements (e.g. those with attraction providers or relating to hiring premises or equipment)
  • Plan the event, completing any necessary risk assessments if you are required to do so
  • Check if there are activities that could present additional or unusual hazards (e.g. bouncy castles), identifying any additional precautions that are required
  • Determine if you will need to use contractors and if so how you will check they are suitable and competent
  • Liaise with other agencies (e.g. the Police, emergency service, or Local Authority) where appropriate
  • If the scale and nature of the event warrant it, prepare a specific event safety plan
  • Implement your arrangements (including any checks or inspections) to ensure the event runs safely
  • Establish your procedures  for dealing with incidents and emergencies
  • Provide information and training for any employees and volunteers on what they need to do
  • Provide the right welfare facilities (e.g. toilets).

Your obligations when organising an event

In general, you need to ensure the event is properly managed so that people remain safe ensuring that any event does not cause injury to another because you have acted negligently. If you are an employer, you must comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. Even if you are not an employer you may still have to comply with certain aspects of the Act or with other related law.

Helping you manage risk

To help you get to grips with some of the actions you’ll need to take to ensure the smooth running of your event, we’ve put together some guidance notes.

It gives you a set of actions from which to get started and some helpful pointers about the considerations you’ll need to make.

Start organising your event today – download our event guidance notes.