Event Risk Assessment the Easy Way Part 1

Dubai33How many of you have to do an event risk assessment but the thought just leaves you cringing because you don’t know how to go about it? Or you think it’s totally useless and you just take an old risk assessment, change the date and your done? What about the risk assessment fetishists out there that want at least a 30 to 200 page risk assessment from you?

It doesn’t have to be that way for you and that’s what this post is all about. But first, let’s look at why we need risk assessments and how they actually benefit us, when done the right way.

Risk assessments originated in the construction business because of all the accidents that happened on a construction site. They have greatly reduced the amount of accidents over the years and so are a proven way to reducing fatalities. An event build is not much different than a construction site, so it makes sense to use the same instruments to reduce the amount and severity of accidents.

Events always pose a risk to the people involved, wether they are your employees, contractors or the participants. Even a small event with 100 participants has it’s risks just because we are allowing people to meet in a larger group. In case of an emergency, it’s more difficult to get 100 people out of a building than 10 people. 

Risk assessments are simply lists of dangerous situations, called hazards, that can happen during your event and how you deal with them. Wether it’s during the setup, operation or tear down phase of your event, a lot of bad things can happen and it’s our responsibility to look at the event, think about these „potential“ hazards and find ways to reduce the hazard before it can happen. That’s all. Nothing more.

You will find a lot of risk assessment templates out there that are more or less complicated. What’s important to know is, there is no „official“ right way of doing a risk assessment. The standard way of preparing the risk assessment is to name the hazard, it’s severity and the probability of it happening. Then you name the measures to be taken to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. So in it’s simplest form a risk assessment can be done in 4 steps:

Hazard (what can happen)

Severity (how bad can someone get hurt)

Probability (how likely is it to happen)

Counter measures (what you’ll do to reduce the amount of risk)

Thats it. You need not do more. Beware of risk assessment templates that make the process more complicated and thereby making the whole task more daunting.

Happily you’re not alone during an event and you don’t have to do a risk assessment for everything because there are others that have to do their homework too.

Event contractors and suppliers have to do their own risk assessments for the services and products they are bringing to the event.

Venue operators have to do their risk assessments concerning the venue. For instance how the risk of fire is reduced or how potential protestors or even terrorists are kept from entering the building.

And event organizers have to think about risks specific to their event. For instance how they will reduce the risk of too many participants crowding into a breakout room or during an exhibition how dangerous materials are either restricted or stored in a safe way.

So it all comes down to being aware of the things that can happen and reducing the possibility of them happening. Then documenting these  thoughts in a way that can be understood by everyone involved.

There’s an added bonus for doing your risk assessment. It keeps you out of jail. If you can prove, in writing, that you have thought about potential hazards beforehand, then no one can convict you of being negligent. I know from my decades of experience being responsible for health and safety during events, that documenting my thoughts in a risk assessment has given me many nights of peaceful sleep knowing I’ve done my best to reduce the risks to an absolute minimum.

My next post will be on how you go about reducing risk once you’ve identified it. I’ll show you a simple framework you can use for every situation you may encounter.