Over the past two years, event health and safety have been at the forefront of planners’ minds. And the need to find ways to ensure guest safety while also adhering to regulations will continue to remain a priority for planners for the foreseeable future.
There are critical considerations when it comes to mitigating unsafe scenarios and planning for emergencies. Here’s a great starting point:
Guidelines That Will Help You Prioritize Safety for Your Events in the Coming Year.
Vet Your Venue
It’s up to you to assess your venue thoroughly to determine whether or not it meets safety standards for your event. You’ll want to start this assessment with a written profile of the event. Jot down all of the activities that will take place and be sure to include your estimated audience size as well as demographics. Will there be special needs people attending? Any elderly members of the community? Children or pregnant women?
Once you have all of this information written down, it’s time to visit the venue in person if at all possible. During your visit, pay special attention to things like:
Can all of your guests be safely accommodated in the space? Is there room for everyone to sit? To circulate and network? Are there any places where you can see crowding happening?
Is there enough parking at the venue? Can people with physical disabilities or those in wheelchairs gain easy access to the space? How many emergency exits are there? Enough to accommodate the size of your group and anyone else using the venue on that day?
Is There Help Nearby?
Should there be an emergency, how far away are police and fire stations? Is there a hospital nearby?
If you can’t get to the venue yourself for review, you’ll want to work with a liaison who will be your eyes and ears. Email a copy of your written profile of your event to this person. Have them take photos or video for you so you can be absolutely certain the space will work. Don’t be afraid to get on the phone with this person and ask them a million questions (okay, a handful of questions) until you feel good about the space accommodating your needs and ensuring everyone’s safety.
Perform an Event Hazard Assessment
You’ve found a venue that will work for your event. Great. But that doesn’t mean your job is finished. You’ll next want to think about potential risks to safety at your event. It’s a good idea to jot these down and then rate them, one to five, showing those things that offer negligible risk and those that may present significant risk.
Here are some of the things to consider:
Are there any cables or extension cords that guests or staff might trip over? Is there any way your guests could come into contact with electrical equipment such as generators?
Are you able to fully protect those working for you during the event? Will their duties put them at risk for any injuries? Take a look at OSHA regulations.
Mother Nature isn’t very cooperative. That’s one of the first things you learn as an event planner. So it’s important to keep harsh weather in mind during this hazard assessment. Should there be high gusts of wind, will they threaten any of your outdoor structures? Could the ground outside leading into the venue become slippery when wet? Could equipment get wet?
Could an electrical fire occur on site? Do you know where the fire extinguishers are located? Will you be able to stop guests from smoking inside?
What measures will you take to ensure only ticket holders can enter your event? Will you be able to conduct bag checks to prevent security threats?
Take a look at your finished list and prioritize those risks that have a “significant risk” rank. You should also get a second and even third set of eyes for this part of the risk assessment. Someone may notice things that weren’t obvious to you.
Create an Emergency Plan
What will you do should an emergency arise? Being fully prepared requires you to develop emergency procedures that should be followed by everyone working on the event. Be sure to also share your plans with venue management.
You plan should consider things such as:
- Channels of communication – both internal and with the public
- Onsite emergency response
- Appointing a liaison with emergency services
- Crowd management (including steps for evacuation)
- Traffic management
- Medical care (including first aid and casualties)
We recommend you sit down with a small group of your team members to run through a range of scenarios to establish the most effective responses.
The above guidelines aren’t exhaustive, but they should give you a head start on your health and safety planning for this year’s upcoming events. And if you could use any more guidance on developing a comprehensive Health & Safety plan, please reach out to us. We can take you step by step through the process, ensuring all of your boxes are ticked.
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