As corny as this may sound, safety is most certainly everyone’s business or at least it should be and cutting corners, with the opinion that “it will never happen to us”, is seriously misguided. It is not worth it to cut back on safety and checking out venues before you use them is essential for both the safety of your team and your guests.

Accidents do and can happen and going that extra mile to minimise the risk of injury and/or loss of life, is priceless.
 
Here are some pointers to consider:
 

Exit Routes

Are there enough exit routes that don’t involve an obstacle course? A clear path is crucial in the case that the power goes out and lighting is limited. Panic can lead to mass hysteria and when a crowd starts to move there can be little to stop them. Chaos and disorderly behaviour then takes over and no one wants to get trampled in a mad stampede. It is therefore important to assess all exits and entrances, know where they lead to and have your team become familiar with them. As long as everyone can get out in the event of a fire and/or the emergency services can get in, then all is good.
 

Crowd management

Whatever the venue, however spacious it may be, or however easy it is to get out of in the event of an emergency, it is essential that your team know what they are doing. Untrained personnel can prove to be just as dangerous as panicked public. People become easily upset, angry and distraught in emergency situations and the events team need to know how to calm people down, learn to voice their presence and leadership in a noisy situation and know where the nearest and safest exit routes are located.

It sounds extreme but it is essential that everyone has a pre-determined job to do so that all exit routes are covered, everyone knows where the fire extinguishers are and more importantly, how to operate them and where to direct the crowd. Whatever the role a team member may have, if they are wearing any type of uniform working in a front or even back of house role, then they should know what to do and say in an emergency situation.
 

First Aid

For big events, it is logical that emergency services will be arranged on site. At smaller events however, it not so likely. Hence, it is always advisable to ensure that either you or a couple of your teammates are first aid trained and a first aid kit is on hand. Something so simple could really help someone in the event of an accident. It is never good news to have your events crew running around like headless chickens trying to find a first aid kit should they need one. Also ensure that the catering crew have all their relevant health and safety paperwork in order before you hire them. This all may sound like overkill but I promise that you will be kicking yourself should something happen as a result of failing to double-check.
 

Lighting

Ensure that stairways, pathways, exit and entrance routes are well lit and have sufficient emergency lighting. For all venues and events, it is a good idea for your event team members to be equipped with a small torch as a back up. This is will also help them to stand out from the crowd when performing crowd management duties, especially in limited lighting.
 

Carving Stations

Hot buffet sections need some special attention, especially if there is a carving station on offer. Keeping food hot is of course essential but all electricity cables must be taped to the floor to avoid becoming a trip hazard. Try to have the buffet set in such a manner that avoids too much over crowding at certain points and ensure that tablecloths are not left dragging on the floor. I am sure you can envision the mess that this could otherwise cause. Something so simple and so easy to avoid has the potential to become major drama and yes, I have seen it happen!
 

Children

Children’s event or events where children will be present do require some additional safety checks. Here are some of the questions you may want to have on your checklist: Are young children able to get out of the venue unsupervised? Is there a clearly marked exit route from any indoor play area? Are the soft drinks being served in distinguishable glasses in order to avoid any confusion with alcoholic beverages? Having a play area and/or authorised supervisor for the children is also worth some serious thought and parents will most definitely appreciate this additional effort so that they can truly enjoy the event without having to worry about their children. Should you decide, however, to implement such a service, then a strict sign in and sign out procedure is definitely recommended.
 

Disabled access

It is a pure and simple courtesy to assess event venues and make provisions to ensure that disabled access routes have been catered for.

This of course includes wheelchair ramps, bathroom facilities and emergency call alarms in the bathrooms. Just don’t forget the all-important question that if faced with an emergency evacuation of the building or venue space, would a wheelchair or person with limited mobility be able to handle all alternative exit routes and have all disabled-friendly exits been clearly indicated?
 

Taping down of cable and wires

Not only does it look messy to have wires or cables trailing around the venue, they are easy for people to trip over. Ensure that any cables that need to cross a room are safely secured under carpet or neatly taped down with hardwearing gaffer tape. Keep any stage and platform area as tidy as possible. Where there is a live band, it is definitely wise to employ a Sound Technician. A Sound Technician will ensure that all cables are neatly tucked away, stop anyone from incorrectly wiring up the stage equipment resulting in possible electrocution, assist in maintaining a reasonable decibel level and prevent anyone going on stage and possibly injuring themselves and/or damaging any equipment.
 

Parking

If there you are expecting a hoard of cars, it is well worth investing in parking attendants. While this may seem like an unnecessary addition to the budget, it is well worth considerable thought. Having someone helping to park cars in an orderly fashion helps to create a hassle free environment, avoids collisions and blocked in cars and maintains pedestrian safety, especially that of small children.

Parking can sometimes be a stressful and time-consuming activity so relieving your guests of such unnecessary aggravation allows them to arrive at the event calm, safely and in good spirits.
 

Use The Right Equipment

All too often we see event team personnel standing on chairs or tables trying to string up decorations or other event accessories.  Not a good idea! There is a reason why we have ladders and proper rigging equipment. It might seem quicker to jump on a table or nearby stool rather than fetching a ladder but seriously, if you fall, was it worth saving all of the 5 minutes it would have taken to locate the ladder in the first place? If something is heavy eat your pride and get someone to help, assign tasks with enough people to get the job done safely and where necessary, employ the professionals to get it done.  You might be willing to take a risk or two but don’t knowingly endanger your team.
 
While this all might sound a little too serious, you really can’t be too careful or afford to take any risks, however small they may seem. One small oversight can lead to a big problem and being held liable can certainly cost you both your business and your reputation. Accidents can happen anywhere but how prepared you are for all eventualities will determine the outcome.

Fiona

Following a University degree and a drastic career move, Fiona Warren-Bassett soon found herself rapidly moving forward in the events and PR world. Enjoying the change of direction, Fiona went on to further her Event Management experience, spending 6 years working for a renowned cruise line company. Having travelled extensively and been actively involved in many events and weddings, Fiona has since returned to land and has successfully launched her freelance writing and PR career.
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