a step by step guide to safety at events, fêtes, fairs, car boot sales, indoor and outdoor fundraisers, craft shows etc. page updated 4 Mar 2017

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Guide to Planning
Safe Events part II

A Step-By-Step Guide with Hints and Tips
© KayDeeElle 2002

If you're looking for The Event Safety Guide by the
Health and Safety Executive, you can buy it here

Guide Contents

we've scattered around pictures of decor, themes and
props to break the monotony of plain text

Is this for you? ...read on
No scapegoats! ...the buck stops with you!
Plan your event ...you gotta have a plan, Sam
Evaluating any risks ...danger, danger, Will Robinson
Preparing for Emergencies ...contingencies, belts and braces
Let's get organised ...don't overdo that committee thing!
Who to contact prior... ...you're more than a number in my little black book ;-)
Prepare the Site and facilities ...special guide to doing it in public
People are People too ...lost souls, special needs, and erm.. biological functions
Stewards' duties ...the nameless officials who make it all happen
Pre- and During-Event checklist ...did I leave the cooker on? Or last minute checks
Recommended reading ...for the specifics

If you're using health and safety consultants, use this guide to confirm they're on the ball!

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See our theme ideas here:
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rent some flags? these sure draw the crowds at outdoor events, noise and motion works a treat

entrance to a university ball - we did the art direction, decor and production

grecian pillar and props for a corporate theme dinner or presentation

various props giving a glimpse of the creative skills we can bring to your event
see more pictures here...

Preparing for Emergencies

Ok, you carried out your risk assessments on the attractions and activities but you haven't finished yet. You must also consider what could go wrong on the day and draw up a Contingency Plan to deal with each one.

In this written plan, make sure you cover what you'll do in the event of emergencies such as a fire, accident, crowd disturbance, bomb scare, very bad weather, the need to evacuate the site and so on.

Make sure your Plan includes:

  • what to do in the case of any of these emergencies occurring
  • who'll take that action
  • how you'll let the right people know about the emergency (consider personal radio, mobile phones, using coded messages)
  • a clear statement of the stage during an incident when control is to be transferred from the Safety Officer to the emergency services.

Keep your Contingency Plan with and as a part of your Safety Manual.

Discuss and agree your Contingency Plan with the emergency services and give them a copy of the completed document. If anything changes, make sure you update them with the new version.



Let's get organised

Start getting your organisation together several months before the event - you'll find the best time is at the early stages of planning. This will give you time to carry out your risk assessments and obtain specialist advice where necessary.

It also gives the authorities (police, fire and ambulance services and the local authority) and the voluntary organisations (such first aid and drug awareness societies and so on) time to make their arrangements, especially if they need to attend the event. This is very important during the summer months when there may be several events taking place on the same day.

Organising Committee

Even if you have safety consultants, form a Committee with responsibility for the smooth and safe operation of the event - make sure your consultants are represented. But don't go overboard, less is definitely more when it comes to committees :-)

Event Manager

One person should be in overall charge of the event.

Safety Officer

A suitably competent person should be appointed to act as the Safety Officer for the event with overall responsibility for safety matters (though overall responsibility for the event remains with the organising committee).

This person should be trained or have experience or knowledge of safety matters appropriate for the event. You must take into account the size and nature of the event and the possible level of risks when selecting someone.

Someone with personal experience and knowledge may be adequate for a small indoor event. For large or complex events you may need professional help and advice. Some assistance may be available from your local authority

During the event the Safety Officer or a nominated deputy should:

  • arrange for a check of the safety arrangements to be made before the event is opened, including that all firedoors are unlocked and access is unobstructed
  • be on site at all times
  • be easily identifiable as the Safety Officer and in a known location such as the Control Room
  • have the means to communicate with the people responsible for activating any part of the contingency arrangements
  • not be engaged in any other duties that would detract from the rôle
  • have the authority, if necessary, to close the event or part of it at any time
  • monitor the continuing safety of the site throughout the event. Pay special attention to structures, barriers, electrical supplies, installations and other equipment provided. A specimen checklist is in the appendix.

Senior Steward

  • If your event is large enough you may need one or more senior stewards. They should bring relevant qualifications and experience and will be invaluable when planning detail on the ground (stewards' duties are here).

Other Staff

  • Everyone having a specific responsibility before, during and after the event should be named, have their responsibilities clearly identified and be appropriately trained.
  • Everyone assisting during the course of the event should be properly instructed in their responsibilities and what action to take in the event of an emergency.
  • The above should be confirmed in writing and minutes of all meetings should be recorded.


Who to contact prior...

Get in contact with the following people at an early stage of planning and keep them updated along the way. Their experience, advice and help will be invaluable.


Contact the Police Station local to the site, and arrange to let them have details of the event in writing. Make sure you include the layout with entrances and exits marked and also how many people you are expecting. They will give advice and may assist with crowd control, public order, emergency access and local traffic management and parking. You might also get advice and assitance for local traffic management from your local authority.

Fire Brigade

Contact the Fire Safety Office local to the site. They will give you advice on fire safety matters, including how to call the emergency services and marshalling of spectators and traffic in emergency conditions.

They'll also advise you on local access for emergency vehicles and provision of on-site fire-precautionary and fire-fighting arrangements. Expect a site visit by their safety officers.

First Aid

Contact the St Johns Ambulance, British Red Cross or other voluntary first aid society. Arrange for them to attend and provide first aid cover. Remember, you may have to pay for this service.

Inform the statutory Ambulance Service for the area if yours is a large event. They will be responsible for establishing a casualty assessment centre in the event of a major incident and deciding the hospital to which any casualties will be taken.

Drug Awareness

If you are having the sort of event where large numbers of youths are expected, seriously consider having drug advisors and counsellors on hand. You should find local volunteer organisations who are willing to provide a presence. Site them next to your first aid point.


These motoring organisations can assist in providing direction signs to your event. You may like to consider this option if you expect enough people to be travelling from outside the locality. You'll have to pay for this service, though.

Local Authority

Your local council is a good source of advice. You can get help from your council's various departments on the following:

  • your duties under health and safety legislation, including carrying out risk assessments and emergency planning
  • assistance from Local Authority CCTV (where installed) for event security and monitoring
  • food hygiene - essential if food is going to be sold or prepared
  • assistance with local traffic management arrangementst
  • if goods are to be sold: trade descriptions, trade marks, counterfeiting, food quality, product safety
  • if music is to be played: getting a public entertainment licence

Public Liability Insurance

As organisers you could be held legally liable for the costs or damages for any injuries and other mishaps that which may occur during the event.

You can get insurance via a public liability insurance policy. It is generally accepted that this insurance should cover you for a minimum of £2 million. For larger or riskier events you may need a greater level of cover. If you don't have this cover, any claim could be made against all the organisers and their private finances.

Insurance Claims

If the worst happens and someone is injured or property damaged, you must record full details of the incident and report it to your insurers without delay. If something happens, difficult as it may be, don't say sorry or admit liability as it may invalidate your cover.

Contractors' Insurance

If you are using specialist contractors, check that they've got their own public liability insurance and that they comply with any policy terms and conditions. If you're unsure, ask to see a copy of their policy.

Go to Part I                                Go to Part III


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