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Master Class

Organising an Event - Part 3

Part 3:

How do I keep organisers, volunteers and participants safe?

Despite the stories you might hear, health and safety law does not, generally, impose duties upon someone who is not an employer, self-employed or an employee (although civil law may apply).

In most cases, all you need to do is consider realistically what could potentially go wrong, what effect this could have on those present and what you need to do to prevent it. Focus on risks that could cause real harm and ignore the trivial.

For many events all that is required is to follow a basic series of steps. Ask yourself:

  • what are the risks, high or low, of somebody being harmed by a hazard, and how serious the harm could be
  • how could accidents happen and who might be harmed
  • what do you need to do to control the risks and make the event safer

These are some of the things you may need to think about:

  • the layout of the event to ensure people and vehicles can move about safely
  • the number of people attending the event, for example, managing entrances and exits to prevent overcrowding
  • keeping the venue free from slip and trip hazards
  • not taking unnecessary risks when putting up large marquees, tents etc. It may be sensible to have a large marquee erected and taken down by the company it is hired from - see the guidance on safe use and operation from MUTA
  • making sure that structures like bouncy castles you hire have an up-to-date inspection certificate and that they are properly tethered and used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and guidance - find out more about the industry’s PIPA scheme
  • if hiring a fairground ride, check that it has an up to date certificate of conformity, this is equivalent to a car’s MOT certificate
  • electrical safety: for example, if you are using mains voltage outside use a ‘trip device’ to ensure that the current is promptly cut off if contact is made with any live part
  • first aid arrangements

If you are using a village or community hall or similar venue, the Health and Safety Executive has a simple checklist to help you:

  • confirm that any actions needed are sensible
  • deal with the risks in a proportionate way

Fire Safety

Anyone providing a venue for a public event must assess the risk from fire to those using the premises and ensure that the fire safety measures in place are suitable to protect lives in the event of a fire.

Discuss with the venue owner what fire safety arrangements are in place and make sure you know what to do should a fire break out.

Questions you should ask yourself are often a matter of common sense. For example:

  • is the fire alarm working
  • are the fire exits obvious and/or clearly signposted; are there enough exits to let everyone, including anyone who may be disabled or particularly vulnerable, leave quickly and easily in the event of a fire
  • who will be responsible for evacuating the building should it be necessary
  • are any pieces of fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers or fire blankets provided; are clear instructions on how to use them provided
  • is there suitable access for the emergency services

Remember you may put lives at unnecessary risk if you attempt to fight the fire.

Sensible precautions you can take to help minimise the risk of fire include:

  • don’t let rubbish build up and ensure any flammables are used carefully and stored properly
  • keep fire exits free from obstruction
  • keep any gas cylinders upright in a safe, well ventilated space away from heat sources
  • if you are using a portable generator, read the user guide first, set it up in a well-ventilated area and be careful not to spill fuel when filling and refilling the tank
  • if you are planning an event that includes bonfires, fireworks or Chinese/sky lanterns you should read the specialist guidance linked to in Part 7

Go to Part 4 of Organising a Community/Voluntary Event