Expert insights

Expert advice for effective event health and safety management

5 July 2017 by Jason Cardy

Event health and safety is vital. So here are some expert pointers for keeping event teams, suppliers and guests safe.

You must ensure that people are not exposed to unnecessary hazards before, during or after your event. Health and safety does not have to be complicated, but the planning should be balanced with the scale of the event and the risk. A fitting mantra could be “Health and safety doesn’t have to be complicated, but it has to be done”.

1. Get management’s buy-in

Good health and safety in business starts with leadership from the top. Yet it’s something that everyone should play an active role in. You need commitment from your management team to ensure that the importance of event safety is understood, and can be fully factored into resources and time plans of your event.

2. Create consistent standards

It’s crucial to have a system to make certain that the whole project team supports each other and works consistently to the same standards. A good example is creating a pre-event risk assessment - prior to site inspections - in the same format for the event team, delegates, third parties and anyone else involved in the event.

3. Clearly define your plans

Health and safety is not about one person being responsible if things go wrong. Everyone who works on the event should be fully aware of plans, including who has particular responsibilities. If the fire alarm goes off, does your event team leave by the nearest exit and wait for the fire brigade, or are they responsible for checking everyone else has left the building?

4. Develop an exact timeline

As part of the general project plan, plot the timings of things like your risk assessments and onsite inspections. You can’t leave these until the last minute; if you find an issue that requires a major change to event, without enough time to change it, you’ll have some very angry stakeholders and unnecessary costs.

5. Collaborate

Your chosen agency should be working within your expectations, and those of any contractors. Make sure they are applying common sense and common goals to eliminate risks and find safe, workable solutions, in collaboration with all other third parties.

6. Off-site support

Make sure you have an office support team in the UK, or wherever you are based, to assist the on-site event planner or principal contractor. Having that back-up, including out of hours, will reassure your event team and guests. The support team should be fully briefed on every aspect of the event and safety plans. Remember, health and safety is everyone’s responsibility.

7. Event safety plan for larger events

Create a bespoke plan for larger events. Cover everything from project charts, allocated responsibilities, risk assessments and site plans - to transport, emergencies, first aid procedures and contacts. Suitable event safety plans are an entire subject in their own right - one to cover in more detail at another time.

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