Planning an event – some things to consider

For most schools and academies, putting on a play or concert is something that they do quite often however, occasionally other different or more complex events may be considered.

Apart from the natural desire to put on a safe event, free of unwanted incidents or accidents, there are important legal reasons why you should do your utmost to ensure that the planning of, arrangements for, as well as the actual on the day operation of an event are as good as they reasonably can be.

event risk management in education

Should injuries or fatalities occur, which are connected with the event, then the persons involved with its arrangements and operation can, depending upon the circumstances involved, leave themselves open to criminal charges and/or civil actions, both as individuals and as part of the organisation(s) involved.

Quite how much work will be involved in planning your event will often depend on whether or not you have held this event before, and the extent to which suitable plans are already available which can be used as a basis for the next occasion.

Do not however assume that any previous planning was carried out properly or adequately. The persons who were previously involved may not have had the competency to undertake the task properly nor have planned widely or thoroughly enough.

Records of previous arrangements should only be an aid to your planning process and not a substitute for it. It is important to try and learn any valuable lessons from past similar events. Remember that your event may have significant differences from a previous one, which may make past arrangements or assessments useless.

Planning a safe event can take a considerable amount of time and effort. Make sure that you allow sufficient time for this. Bear in mind that, for many events, you will need to consult the various different authorities, with all the delays that this may involve. It is not often that one person will have all of the necessary expertise to plan an event. There will be many elements where it will be necessary to seek specialist advice. Guessing or assuming can lead to tragedy.

An incident could range from something as simple as one person suffering food poisoning e.g. due to poor food hygiene arrangements, or many people injured due to a poorly designed temporary structure collapsing, or a fire, or explosion etc. The HSE publish a number of ACoPs on various topics. Many relate to particular regulations. They are designed to offer "practical examples of good practice". For example, if regulations use words like ‘suitable’ and ‘sufficient', an ACoP can illustrate what this requires in particular circumstances. ACoPs have special legal status.

Risk assessments should identify significant risks, which hazards can be eliminated, and for those which cannot, the reasonable measures needed to reduce or control them.

In order to prove due diligence, you need to keep detailed records e.g. of the planning process, risk assessments, health and safety control measures decided upon and put into place, as well as the information instruction and training provided.

All persons involved in the running or supervision of the event, including employees, volunteers, contractors, relevant authorities etc, need to be made aware of the significant risks to their health and safety, which the event creates the control measures decided upon, and the emergency arrangements.

There may be a number of different authorities which you have to consult. Who you have to consult will depend upon a number of factors, such as the type of event, where and when it is being held, the numbers of persons likely to attend etc. It is important that you start this process at as earlier a stage as possible. This will help you to identify any unexpected problems sooner rather than later and help you to get their guidance to feed into your planning process.

It is vital to let your insurance broker know about the event, and your plans for it, as soon as possible. They will then be able to pass on the information to your insurer and any other relevant insurance companies, as well as giving you their own advice.

Because events can differ so much, the following list of key points to consider, cannot be definitive, but we hope it will help you to make the first step along the road to organising a safe event:

  • Initial research and up-to-date information
  • Licences, permissions, and liaison with the local authority, emergency services and others (including insurance broker)
  • Health and safety policy statement; understanding and allocating health and safety responsibilities
  • Competencies of the persons involved
  • Site suitability assessment, including site capacity, safe attendance numbers etc
  • Recorded suitable and sufficient health and safety risk assessments for each distinct phase e.g. the organising, setting up, dismantling, clearing-up stages as well as for the event itself i.e. build-up, load-in, show, load-out and breakdown phases, including fire safety and overhead electrical power line identification and avoidance (see HSE, National Grid and local electricity Distribution Network Operator guidance)
  • Appointment of a competent safety coordinator
  • Training for employees and volunteers including safe systems of work
  • Information for employees, volunteers and contractors
  • Controlling contractors, and other third parties for health and safety
  • Contingency plans and arrangements for bad and severe weather
  • Security needs for the buildings (and accessible areas within them), cash receipts, equipment, terrorism concerns and celebrities (if any) and persons handling or carrying case
  • Structural safety of temporary structures, including seating, stages etc
  • Food hygiene and food safety, including third party caterers/food sellers
  • Electrical installations, electrical equipment and generators – suitability and safety
  • Heating appliances – suitability and safety
  • LPG gas equipment – suitability and safety
  • Fireworks, pyrotechnics and firearm legislation, licensing and registration, storage and use
  • General and emergency communications arrangements
  • Crowd, pedestrian and traffic control; number of stewards or marshals needed, parking arrangements, including access and arrangements for persons with disabilities and special needs
  • Safety and health arrangements where animals are involved as part of the event
  • Inspecting rides, funfair amusements, bouncy castles, other inflatables and similar equipment for safety
  • Supervising activities and attractions, including age and fitness aspects
  • Emergency and rescue arrangements, including lost children
  • Medical and first aid facilities
  • Welfare facilities
  • Learning lessons from past and similar events, previous days events (for events lasting more than one day)
  • Auditing and inspecting safety arrangements
  • Reporting and investigating accidents
  • Waste clearance/waste management arrangements.

From the above list you will see that there are quite a number of general aspects to consider. Planning a safe event takes time, expertise, research, thought, management and attention to detail. You will find information and general guidance on event safety on the HSE website

Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article.

This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 01.01.16.

Articles, Guides & Top Tips

medical malpractice in education

Medical Malpractice - is your insurance policy leaving you exposed?

Changes to the way in which schools and academies support pupils with medical conditions could leave local authorities exposed to medical malpractice claims.

Read more about Medical Malpractice - is your insurance policy leaving you exposed?
Fire Safety – Risk Assessment

Risk Management for Schools - Fire Safety – Risk Assessment

There are many responsibilities which go along with running an educational establishment but none is more serious than the one relating to fire safety.

Read more about Risk Management for Schools - Fire Safety – Risk Assessment
cyber liability insurance article

What is a cyber attack?

The Oxford dictionary definition of a Cyber Attack is “An attempt by hackers to damage or destroy a computer network or system”.

Read more about What is a cyber attack?