Running an event soon? Have you thought of your event safety plan? Making sure your event runs smoothly may require a team of planners, chefs, caterers, waitstaff, bartenders, security personnel, as well as others. When an event goes mobile, it doesn’t mean health and safety should go out the window. Of course it’s more difficult to plan for unknown variables, but safety procedures should be put in place and well-documented. For every event, you'll need a documented safety plan, detailing the hazards and the ways you'll eliminate or reduce those hazards.
Here are 7 things every event safety plan should include:
The complexity of the event will determine the length and thoroughness of your health and safety risk assessment. For a simple soiree, a standard risk assessment is sufficient, addressing specific issues that may arise at the event - that would endanger any staff, any people attending the event, and any members of the public/anyone who could be impacted.
For complex events, you may need an Event Management Plan or an Event Safety File when conceptualising the event. You could also hire a safety adviser to make sure that all ideas are taken into account.
An outdoor catered wedding that takes place in a marquee can create hazards such as the possibility of waitstaff tripping by walking from the interior of the marquee across the grass to the interior of the catering building; there may be tent poles that may be a tripping hazard as well along the exterior. In this scenario, employee, slips, trips, and falls - the most common workplace accident - could be a threat to this individual’s health and safety, so providing training as well as slip-resistant shoes may help manage and eliminate those risks, especially for waitresses and waiters working at an outdoor event. See how our new sole technology eliminates these risks.
To manage risk, you must identify and analyse any exposures, examine any risk management techniques, select an appropriate technique, implement the techniques, and monitor the results.
Alleviating and managing risk at your event involves identifying what could go wrong - within reason - and putting measures in place to make sure those risks are lessened or eliminated, if possible. When your chefs are working in a new kitchen, the head chef and a qualified risk manager must examine the new workspace to make sure that all of the equipment is up to the appropriate safety standards. On the other hand, if food is being brought from an offsite location, the risks associated with moving food have to be considered instead.
Every event safety plan needs an emergency plan in case there’s need to evacuate, in case of a fire, or any other circumstances. You want to train staff on what to do in case of emergency, decide who will take action, how you will let people know about the emergency (i.e. radio, mobile phones, coded messages), who will make statements about the incident to the authorities and emergency services. You’ll also need a contingency plan as part of your safety manual. The contingency plan should be discussed with the emergency services, they should have a copy, and everything should be well-documented. They will need to know, for example, the number of guests and staff and their names, if possible, as well as contact details for each. For lesser emergencies, there needs to be a first aid kit (or several) on site too.
Whether your chefs and caterers are cooking in a new kitchen or bringing food on site, the event safety plan should include detail on how you'll ensure that food does not fall into the temperature danger-zone (4-60°C) which could compromise the safety of guests. You'll also want to know that food will be prepared safely in a hygienic environment, but also in an environment that is safe for the staff. For example, are there slip-resistant mats in place to prevent slips in the kitchens and hallways, or do those need to be brought in externally? Everything to do with bringing the food to the guests' plates should be considered - how it will get there, who will carry it, what dangers does every step present, and so forth?
When there are large crowds of people, safety can be compromised, so your event safety plan needs to include a way to control crowds. For example, if there are tickets sold at the door, how will you move people through the gates quickly enough not to cause a bottleneck? How will you manage large influxes of people in certain areas? Will areas be spaced out so that there are stations to make sure that people do not all gather in the same areas? Make sure you have a plan for making sure that guests go where they should and that there are no back doors or gates that allow people to go outside the event area where they could potentially be injured.
Examples of ways to manage the crowd may be using zoned entry (by ticket for large events), curfews if the event is multi-day, clear signage, and lighting.
Even the best events can be ruined by insufficient or badly managed parking. For any large event (or even small ones), there needs to be a reliable parking plan. You'll need to know approximately how many cars will need to be parked and how you will manage traffic throughout the day(s). Poorly-managed parking has the potential to frustrate and even injure guests and staff if any accidents occur.
If you are charging for parking spaces, you'll have an exact number of spaces reserved before the event, but if you aren't planning on charging for spaces - patrons should still be asked to reserve a free parking spot. This way both you and your attendees know if they can / cannot drive to the event.
Once your event safety plan is in place, you should train staff on both safety procedures and their specific roles at the event ahead of time. Everyone should know what they are doing when and which risks they’ll be exposed to at every step of the way. Make sure that staff are well-trained in the event of an emergency and that they know how to follow a clear safety procedure if required.
Either have all staff on site the day before the event for a briefing, or at the very least a couple of hours before guests are due.
According to the HSE, event planners can only consider health and safety concerns that can be anticipated on the event site, they are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of employees where it’s reasonably possible - but if something happens that could not be predicted then employers are absolved of responsibility. Be sure to provide the tools, training, and safety measures and equipment to keep your staff safe at all times.
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