Whether you’re organising a conference, roadshow or seminar, one of the most important considerations you need to make is the safety of your event and attendees. The bigger and more complex your event, the greater the risk – simply because where there are more people, the probability of an accident or incident is higher. Regardless of size though, event safety should always be a priority consideration.
Have a look at the top 10 things you need to be thinking about to reduce event risk:
1. Carry Out a Risk Assessment
By carrying out a risk assessment, you identify the areas that need to be addressed to ensure your event is safe. Have a look at this article outlining the key steps you need to take from identifying hazards around your events and figuring out who can be harmed and why to assessing the probability of these risks and taking action. It should be remembered that this process looks at the risks that not only affect attendees but your event staff too. Once identified, you can address the areas of concern.
2. Have a Solid Event Management Plan
You will already have some type of planning document in place to help you manage your next event – but this plan needs to be comprehensive in order to address event risk properly. Make sure you include as much information as possible from initial set up to post-event. It should include running times, as well as contact details of all your on-site staff, suppliers and service providers. Duties should be assigned to trained, capable staff and each should be aware of their responsibilities.
3. Have a Health and Safety Plan
Identifying the risks and mitigating them is only one step. You should also have a clear health and safety plan if anything should happen. If your event is of a considerable size, you can contact an organisation like St. John’s Ambulance who provide event services for a fee. For smaller events, you need to make sure you have qualified first aiders on-site and among your staff.
Unless your event is small and low risk, it is a good idea to share your plans with the local fire brigade and constabulary. They are always happy to review the plan and advise of any concerns. They will identify any risks you may have not seen and suggest ways to mitigate or remove those risks.
Related reading: Event security – How to keep your delegates safe
4. Think About Seating
The attention to pay to the seating aspect will naturally depend on the nature of your event. It may be a minor consideration if you’re running an all-standing function or if you’re dealing with small or restricted seating areas for your attendees. However, if you’re hosting a conference or have rooms with auditorium-style seating, Race Furniture recommends you put priority on keeping aisles and gangways clear to ensure people have easy access.
5. Look at Electrics & Fire Safety
Working with electricity is always risky. It is imperative that any electrical installations at your event (ex. WiFi networks) are carried out by qualified electricians. Electrical equipment and control panels should not be accessible by members of the public, event attendees, nor untrained/unqualified employees.
It is also part of your duty to prevent and mitigate the risk of fire at an event. The circumstances of your event may require that you carry out a specific fire safety risk assessment according to the law. This can be done as a separate item or included in your overall health and safety risk assessment.
6. Have a Crisis Communication Plan
Knowing how to communicate with people at your event in a time of crisis is really important. Knowing who you should talk to as well as how and when you do that can have a big impact on how well you handle the situation. Have a look at these six essential steps for managing communications in a crisis around your events. It covers key steps from identifying your event audiences and assigning ‘audience crisis owners’ to figuring out what communication channels you’ll be using to talk to these different people (your event app, social media, WhatsApp groups etc).
7. Have an Evacuation Plan
It is impossible to predict everything that could possibly go wrong or where and how an accident might happen, but you should still have an effective evacuation plan. Make sure you know the exit routes and keep them marked and clear and have a designated place where the evacuees can gather. If you are in a venue that regularly holds event, familiarise yourself with their own evacuation plans. Also, don’t forget to allocate duties to staff who can co-ordinate the process of getting everyone to safety quickly.
8. Assess Requirements for Disabled Access
Your registration system should be able to give you the data insight you need to determine which of your attendees require disabled access. If are providing disabled access, it must be clearly marked and fit for purpose. For example, a couple of wooden planks do not make an adequate ramp. It is sometimes better to declare that the event is not disabled-friendly rather than put attendees at unnecessary risk. Portable ramps and hand rails can be hired.
9. Get Insurance
Although insurance is not part of your risk-prevention measures, it is worth considering any insurance policies you may need to have in place around your events. Specifically known as Public Liability Insurance, this provides financial cover for an accident, damage or loss of property to an attendee at the event. Different levels of cover can be purchased but you need to consider all factors. For example, if you are renting a building, the building’s owners may already have public liability insurance. If you are inviting third party services, such as entertainers or VR booths, they too will need insurance. You should also consider employee liability insurance for your staff before, during and post event.
Related reading: The Importance of Event Insurance
10. Don’t Forget About Data Theft!
Although this article focuses on reducing risk around the physical safety of your event attendees – you cannot underestimate the importance of ‘data’ safety. Almost every week we hear of another security incident where people’s personal information has been compromised in some way. And with GDPR in effect now, the whole issue of protecting attendee data and reducing the risk of a breach happening at an event is even more of a priority for organisations moving forwards. Have a look at the Event Planner’s Guide to GDPR – Part 2: Data Security, outlining some of the day to day things planners do that can easily put their attendee data into the wrong hands – from sharing system passwords and printing delegate lists to WiFi connectivity and device theft. It also looks at what kind of security risk checks you need to do with all the tech suppliers you deal with around your events.
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