Health and safety comes first when it comes to planning your next event. H&E North goes over the basics.

When you’re busy planning an event, health and safety can sometimes seem like time-consuming red tape. It is important not to lose sight of the importance of proper health and safety planning and how it can prevent more serious repercussions in the long run.

Risk-management can ensure that carefully planned events are not scuppered by financial ruin, criminal activity, serious injury, or even loss of life. H&E North is here to help you understand who you are responsible for at your next events and help you take the right steps to ensure that everyone has a fun and engaging time, with none of the drama!

It is important to clarify who you are responsible for, and this goes for every event you organise or oversee. You are responsible for the health and safety of people who work for you (including volunteers), your attendees, whether it is a public event or for invited guests, and any appointed contractors hired to help create the event.

As an event organiser, you must identify the scale of the event, type and size of audience, its location and duration of the day on which it will be held. These factors will help you to determine what resources and facilities will be required. This will aid you down the line when forming a safety plan to adhere to.

The planning stage of your event is a good time to decide if you will be overseeing the health and safety and risk assessment of your event, or if you will delegate this to someone else. Would it be better if someone from outside your organisation handled all health and safety matters, leaving you more time to handle other phases? Whatever you decide, it is imperative to ensure that whoever is handling your event’s health and safety is aware of their complete responsibilities and can be trusted to handle them.

Think seriously about creating a safety plan. When formulating your safety plan, you should consider the size of your event, its audience, its location, what kind of activities you will be organising and how long it will last.

Consult with stakeholders during this phase, including your event staff, venue owners and managers, contractors and local authorities, if appropriate. These people will provide valuable input and insight into the health and safety risk of your event, and contractors should be selected on their ability to deliver a competent and safe service. Your staff should be fully trained to manage the risks associated with their job, for example, will staff be lifting heavy things or handling hot objects?

The set-up and aftermath of an event are just as important to plan for. While the numbers on-site during the event itself will be significantly greater, the need for safety management during build up, load-in, breakdown and load-out is just as imperative. There may be fewer people around, but this is likely to be when the highest-risk work activities are carried out.

Next it is time to draw up a plan for emergencies. Emergencies are rare, but often have big consequences. This plan should be risk-based, and the level of emergency planning put in place should be proportionate to the event – you are not going to need ambulances standing by for a champagne reception for example. You should consider what response there will be to each emergency risk – do you need a first aider on-site? Will the event need to be evacuated? If so, where will you evacuate people to?

Now that preparations are underway and the event is due to start, here are a few things to check during the main event:

  • Is the staff operating in line with agreed health and safety protocols?
  • Are contractors showing that level of care and competence expected?
  • Are you making note of the near misses and almost accidents? These are just as important to log as actual injury as it will be important in your review stage.
  • Are you reporting on the successes of your plan? Again, this will be handy when it comes to reviewing the event.
  • And most importantly, are you actually sticking to your plan?

The event is over, all disasters were averted, and the occasion was deemed a success. Now is a great time to review what worked well for you, what did not work and what improvements you could implement for next time. Review your practices; consider what happened on the day and any near misses that may have occurred. Use this to plan your next event if appropriate.

For more in-depth guidelines and tips, visit


And how about your daily workplace? Embed health and safety in your organisation, says Dr Karen McDonnell, Occupational Health & Safety Policy Adviser at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)…

“It’s no secret that the route to a safer and healthier workplace is through embedded cultures. Every year at the RoSPA Health and Safety Awards, we inevitably see that the higher-achieving organisations are those with embedded safety cultures – from top to bottom, director level to the shop floor, everyone understands the importance of good safety practice, and so have this at the heart of their day-to-day work.

So, what’s the best way to make this happen in your organisation? Well, it’s good to talk. Communication is the key to success for any health and safety practitioner. As well as disseminating information to employees, it’s essential to encourage two-way communication; to keep an ear to the ground, chat to staff and senior management, and find out where any potential issues lie. This way, you can spot any emerging problems and nip them in the bud at the earliest opportunity, and by genuinely listening to employee’s concerns you also get buy-in for your processes and practices when anything new is introduced.”