As anyone in the event industry will tell you, no two events are the same and seemingly similar events (on paper) will often require a shift in approach and resources.

Variables such as the artist, audience profile, venue and weather conditions – in different combinations – can each influence the challenges you are likely to face.

Taking reasonable measures to prevent injury or ill health and having procedures in place if emergencies arise; means planning carefully to reduce the likelihood of accidents. At its best safety management should feature throughout each phase of your project.

Health and Safety Requirements and The Law

Most events, regardless of whether they are for profit, are considered work activities, with at least one employed person involved throughout. This means the employer has duties under the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act of 1974 and related subsidiary legislation. The following people have a responsibility under the Act for workers, as well as those who could be affected by the work activities being undertaken:

  • Event organiser
  • Venue owners
  • Contractors
  • Licensees
  • Promoters

As if keeping people safe isn’t reason enough, bear in mind that prosecution can lead to uninsured losses at levels specifically designed to affect your business by way of a deterrent.

Is this something you can afford to cut corners with?

What You Need for Health and Safety Planning for an Event

There are four key documents that event organisers have the responsibility to prepare during the event planning process:

  • A construction phase plan (where construction work takes place)
  • A risk assessment
  • An event safety plan and emergency plans – proportionate in detail – are likely to be required to adequately evidence how safety is being managed in relation to the project

Construction Phase Plan

Following the Construction, Design Management Regulations 2015 (CDM2015) the build and de-rig of an event site (where construction work takes place) is included in the scope of CDM2015 and as such a construction phase plan (CPP) must be compiled.

Construction work is a broad term but will generally include the assembly or disassembly of prefabricated elements (including such as shell schemes).

This document must lay out how the event organiser;

  • eliminates or controls risks so far as reasonably practicable
  • ensures work is effectively planned
  • appoints the right people and organisations at the right time
  • ensure everyone has adequate information, instruction, training and supervision as needed to carry out their jobs safely and without injury or ill-health
  • has systems in place to help parties cooperate and communicate with each other and coordinate their work
  • consults workers with a view to securing effective health, safety and welfare measures

Risk Assessment

Risk assessments are best done at the start of the project and developed through the planning stages, with new control measures agreed upon and added/removed as necessary. As the name suggests, the risk assessment will identify possible hazards and the control measures you plan to implement to reduce the likelihood of these causing injury or ill health.

As already mentioned all events are unique, however, some common areas you should consider for your event include:

  • Are the welfare arrangements suitable onsite?
  • Are the ground conditions suitable and will they still be suitable after everything has been laid out?
  • Ingress and egress routes to transport hubs?
  • Is lighting sufficient in the event spaces, including ingress/egress? Will this still be suitable if there is a power failure?
  • Who has designed the temporary electrical system and who is testing and signing it off?
  • What controls are in place for food safety with caterers?
  • Is the event medical cover sufficient for the various phases (load in/out, live etc)
  • Is the noise going to be at an acceptable and safe level?
  • Are there site-specific hazards (trees, roads, power cables, buried cables)?
  • Has a fire risk assessment been undertaken?
  • Could the strobe lighting used in the event trigger photosensitive epilepsy?
  • At what windspeed will temporary structures tip or collapse?
  • What are the security risks, and how are they being managed?
  • What are the crowd risks during ingress, circulation and egress? How could this change during an emergency situation?
  • Is waste at the event going to be appropriately managed?

The key is to focus on foreseeable risks associated with your event and what is reasonably practicable to control them.

Some work tasks such as work at height involve absolute or strict liabilities, meaning there are certain codes of practice which will dictate how the risks should be controlled.

Emergency Plan

The last thing any event planner wants is to put into action their emergency plan. However, it is crucial to have one in place, though we should all take steps to reduce the likelihood of needing it!

Emergencies can range from bomb threats or fires to flooding and terror attack. How are you going to deal with specific emergencies if they occur? How are you going to get support from the emergency services when necessary?

All staff working at the event must be fully aware of your emergency plans. This will ensure that you have the resources needed to effectively implement your plan.

Ideally, you should wait until you have conducted your risk assessment before preparing your emergency plan. That way you will know about any possible problems that could affect the event and can you can better prepare to deal with them.

Event Safety Plan

The event safety plan is an important document you must complete when planning your event. This is the core of the planning documentation and central to how you communicate your event plans to stakeholders and contractors.

Depending on the kind of event you are planning, venues and local authorities will want to see this document while you are still in the planning stages of the event.

This document will also be important if anything does happen during your event, and you are involved in a prosecution or civil proceedings. The event safety plan can be used to prove that you did, everything so far as was reasonably practicable to deliver your event safely.

The average event safety plan will typically feature such as, but not limited to the following:

  • Overview of the event
  • Site plan
  • Insurances in place
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Stakeholders
  • Permissions and licences required
  • Structures on-site
  • Risk assessment/s
  • Emergency plan
  • Communication before, during and after the event
  • Power management
  • Toilets, drinking water, and waste disposal details
  • Accessibility
  • Fire safety
  • Noise management
  • Crowd safety arrangements
  • Traffic management
  • Security arrangements
  • Medical arrangements
  • Children and vulnerable adult safeguarding arrangements
  • Details about any amusements, attractions and displays
  • Management of bars and caterers/food safety on-site

Food and Alcohol Consumption Considerations

If your event, as most do, offers food and drink, there are added safety requirements you need to consider.

According to, if food and drink will be offered at your event, you need to:

  • Confirm that all food preparation and serving areas are in good condition, clean and tidy. This includes all the equipment and other facilities.
  • The food preparation areas and serving areas should also be in the best position to prevent contamination either by pests or waste
  • There should be adequate washing-up facilities – you need to consider the number of attendees there will be at your event
  • Is there going to be someone available to answer questions about the ingredients used in food, allergies and where the food has been sourced?

The local authority Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is a good way to ensure that food operators are registered with their local authority and what inspections they have received. You can check caterers here. If your event is going to take place in a venue where there will be access to food and drink prepared on-site, these are good questions to ask during the planning stages.

Managing Alcohol Consumption

If alcohol is going to be sold and served at your event, you need to be aware of the risks that come from people drinking too much and have an alcohol management plan in place. Here are some suggestions about what you can do:

  • If any of the alcohol will be provided for free, consider setting a limit on the number of tickets your attendees can have
  • Ensure experienced staff are employed who have a specific briefing onsite
  • Have a responsible drinking policy
  • Ensure that you adhere to the Think 21 or Challenge 25 Policy.
  • Have sufficient numbers of SIA Door Supervisors onsite
  • Make sure public transport links are available and there are other safe ways for people to get home at the end of the event.

Remember that if they consume alcohol at your event and have too much, they are your responsibility.


Managing health and safety throughout the life cycle of the event is vital to it running smoothly and it being a resounding success. Although it may seem like a tall order and more than a little intimidating, we hope this post has helped show that once you break it down and take a methodical approach, it is not nearly as stressful or complicated as it might seem.

Remember, it is a legal requirement that you follow appropriate health and safety procedures when planning an event.

If you need advice or help, you should always look to a professional team that has experience dealing with the health and safety aspects of events. Contact us today to plan your event efficiently.