From crowds to COSHH – 17 festival factors not to miss
As a festival organiser, the main source of information for organising and running a festival is HSG195, as Matt Crouchley of Shield Safety explains.
While the document is undergoing a review, as a number of areas are now out of date, it does cover all aspects of event planning.
Before an event goes ahead it is highly likely the organisers will hold a series of Event Advisory Group (EAG) meetings with the Local Authority (Environmental Health; Trading Standards; Licensing), Police, Fire Authority and other key players.
During these meetings, the event will be discussed in great detail. You only need to take a glance at the headlines during festival season to see that if an incident happens at a festival it will be the organisers’ and the festival’s name at risk.
Health and safety at festivals is a main priority for organisers due to the high number of people attending festivals and the high risk of something going wrong. In 2011, three people were injured when an explosion occurred at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival. This was linked to an exploding LPG bottle. In addition, there have been other high-profile injuries at festivals, for example a stage collapse during a storm in 2011 at Belgium’s Pukkelpop festival. Weather conditions play a major part in the safety at festivals and contingency plans must be in place for such events. Numerous festivals have been cancelled or postponed due to weather conditions.
Main injuries at festivals include Slip, Trips and Falls due to weather conditions along with the mixture of alcohol, vast numbers of people and also the lack of lighting. Falls from height are also an issue during the construction stage of the festival and monitoring wind speed is extremely important to temporary structures during the event. Noise also plays a large part in the organisation process due to the mix of an event and local residents. And, perhaps obviously, licensing conditions also play a large part in these situations.
In addition to these ‘stand out’ health & safety factors, there are also numerous aspects to consider that may be overshadowed when focussing on the stars (both on and off the stage.) Here are 17 factors that play a supporting but vital role, which organisers must not overlook:
- Sanitary Facilities – ensuring there are an appropriate number following either local guidance or through HSG195 is key. Or it could be messy.
- Venue Safety – is the site free from hazards and has it been checked prior to the event?
- Crowd – who is attending the event and how many attendees will there be? Through a licence this can be monitored by ticket sales, however, in a high-street food festival this could be more difficult through the use of Temporary Event Notices and an uncontrolled crowd.
- Temporary Structures – what structures are on site and where are they located? Do they need any wind monitoring in place?
- Safety – Are safety barriers in place? In particular, around the site boundary and also in front of stages?
- Use of the Land – prior to the event if the land is used for livestock it should cease using livestock before the event. If on a highway, closure notices may be required.
- COSHH – where are chemicals stored and used on site throughout the festival?
- Transport Safety – are transport routes in place on the site which have been agreed with Emergency Services? Ensure that tents and structures are appropriately located – if BBQs are allowed on site are open fires adjacent to or near tents and temporary structures? If bins need emptying during the event, refuse vehicles must be able to enter site.
- Gas Safety – in particular LPG on site, location of the LPG, storage of the LPG and whether the organiser provides it to traders or if traders can bring it with them.
- Electrics – has the installation been checked by a Competent Person on site? Also, if generators are in use where are they located?
- Water – is the water provided mains water or is it from a private distribution system or private supply? If the latter, sampling may be required.
- Noise Control – Have neighbours been informed of the event and are there any licensing restrictions?
- Camping on site/Day Guests/Alcohol – lots to consider here including maximum numbers as per licence/TEN; whether day guests and animals are allowed on site; whether alcohol can be brought onto site; location in relation to emergency routes on site and if cars can be parked next to tents or catering vehicles.
- Lighting – Is normal and emergency lighting provided, in working order and lit where necessary? Is emergency lighting provided on exits on the site?
- Medical Facilities – Are there adequate trained first aiders on site and is a medical room provided?
- Fire Precaution – Is firefighting equipment in place and are refuse bins located away from the site?
- Rubbish – Are sufficient bins provided around the site and arrangements made to empty them during the event?
According to the HSE, event organisers have the prime responsibility for the health and safety of their workers, members of the public and contractors working at the event – so these 17 festival factors are a must on that checklist.
Matt Crouchley is senior EHP at Shield Safety Group
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