event participant safety

Your safety obligations to the health and wellbeing of your event participants

As an event organiser you’re probably well aware that you’re responsible for the safety of the people that will be attending your event, but do you understand the full range of your obligations to them?

You cannot predict everything that could happen when a large group of people come together. There are elements out of your control such as the weather, potential bushfires or floods, or even a terrorist act. While these may be out of your control, these must be considered in your planning and contingencies thought through.

Event participants/attendees don’t think about whether they’re going to be safe or not. They buy a ticket and assume that the event organisers will have everything regarding their health and safety under control.

You have an obligation to your participants to keep them safe, because their wellbeing is a priority and also paramount to the success of your event. The legislation is very clear that anyone exposed to risks because of your business activities, that is your event, must be looked after.

How do you provide the degree of comfort required of government organisations granting the approvals? How do you know what all the risks are? And when you’ve identified them, how do you prioritise?

This article answers commonly asked questions about the obligations of event organisers to event participants. Our job at Sentry Safety is to do everything we can to make an event go ahead with a risk management strategy that thoroughly and comprehensively addresses all potential risks. Events operate in what we call a “permissioning” regime, and we need approvals from authorities for public events. We work hard to turn no’s into yes’s, so that events can proceed with the greatest opportunity for success and safety at the same time, as well as providing peace of mind to approving authorities.

How does an event planner identify the risks for their participants/attendees?

When a participant signs up to an event, does this person have a clear understanding of the risks they are exposed to or should they? Typically, conditions of entry or the requirement to sign a “waiver of liability” states in the fine print the likely hazards they may encounter.  Is this sufficient?

Event organisers are often challenged to identify the risk factors associated with their event.  To identify the relevant risks, the best way forward is to gain a comprehensive understanding of all of the event details. We call this establishing the “context”. The more details you have, the more you will be able to soon identify the risk profile and what requires the closest attention.

Once you have this information about the potential risks unique to your event, then the event organiser’s responsibility is to devise a suitable control environment which achieves two important things:

  1. Reduces the likelihood of an adverse event occurring is.
  2. If an adverse situation were to occur, the consequences are reduced.

This is risk management 101.

You can only do this if you know the intimate details of the event, understand the law that governs events in your region, including any standards and codes of practise, and then making sure you have done your very best to reduce the risk to “as low as reasonably practicable”.

Risk management strategies need to be up to date and current – is last year’s adequate?

The simple answer is no. You can be disappointed that a risk materialises but never be surprised. Therefore, risk strategies need to be up to date at all times, this will also give you peace of mind that you’ve done your best to mitigate risk.

Risk management planning and tactics, change year on year and it is not enough to read last year’s document, place this year’s date on it and file it as it is. This approach is not uncommon and leaves people open to all sorts of problems down the track should anything adverse occur.  If you do this, ask yourself the question “Would this withstand scrutiny if anything happened?”

A robust risk management plan has a good level of detail as well as your commitment. You must deliver on what you say you are going to deliver. If you are focussing on a COVID Safe events, hostile vehicle mitigation (terrorist acts) or food safety, then your risk management document must delve into these in points in detail, demonstrating a solid risk strategy. Approving authorities will look much more favourably on risk management plans that deliver on what they promise.

Related article: Need efficient risk planning for your event? Why L.E.V.8®  saves you countless administration hours.

The five most common key safety concerns for event participants that must be addressed by event planners

Ages of the people attending

Will people entering your event be suitable for the activity or not? People can place themselves in high risk situations with alcohol or drug consumption which is their choice. But you will still need to be prepared with robust response plans and suitable medical resources.

Crowd management

When you have to move large crowds through small spaces, you need to think through mitigation measures to prevent potential crush scenarios. Breaking the crowd up early, clear communication plans, understanding human responses and crowd dynamics are especially beneficial.

Food safety

Your participants will assume all health and safety measures have been applied to the food they purchase. An important part of your risk safety plan is to make sure that food hazards are minimised and that your food service providers have understood and addressed their obligations for participant health and safety.

Medical support for emergencies

The organisation you choose to provide this support must be competent to do the task you have asked them to do. Don’t choose on price, choose on competency and experience. Decide the level of support you need for the activity and then find the competent provider.  The health and safety of your participants is in your hands.

Weather considerations

How will a heat wave, storm cell or lightening affect people’s wellbeing? For both predictable and unpredictable scenarios such as this, you must provide the tools for organisers to monitor emerging risks, make decisions quickly which is critical to ensure reduced risk.

How do you prioritise these risks and address those that are most relevant?

You prioritise them according to the risk and danger, and then you put into place a control plan which is proportional to the level of risks identified. The more controls you put into place, the less likely things will go wrong.

At Sentry, we call them Cumulative Control Environments which are the various layers of risk control to reduce the overall risk.

Whether you’re running a major event or planning business contingencies, we’ve got you covered

Sentry is a recognised expert and leading provider of safety, risk and emergency management solutions in Australia. We provide consultancy services and offer industry compliance management software L.E.V.8™

Contact us to discuss your event on 1300 736 879 (1300 SENTRY) or email us at info@sentry.net.au

We here to help you launch successful events backed by comprehensive risk planning for your participants’ safety and your peace of mind.

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