Event Risk Assessment Made Easy Part 1

Writing a risk assessment is hard

How many of you have to do an event risk assessment but the thought just leaves you cringing because you don’t know how? Or you think it’s totally useless and you just take an old risk assessment, change the date and you’re 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. 

First, let’s look at why we need risk assessments and how they actually benefit us, when done the right way.

What are risk assessments?

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 on construction sites over the years and so are a proven way to reducing the amount and severity of accidents. An event build is not much different than a construction site, so it makes sense to use the same procedure.

Events always pose a risk to the people involved, whether they are your employees, contractors or your visitors. Even a small event with 100 visitors has its 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.  

Risk assessments are lists of dangerous situations that can happen during your event and how you plan to either stop them from happening or reduce the severity of whatever happens. Whether it’s during the setup, operation or tear down phase of your event, a lot of bad things can happen and it’s your responsibility to look at the event, think about these „potential“ risks and find ways to reduce them before anything happens. That’s all. Nothing more. 

Risk assessment templates

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 worldwide agreed standard of preparing a risk assessment is to name the hazard, who could be effected and quantify the severity and the probability of an accident happening. Then you come up with measures to reduce the severity and probability to an acceptable level. So in it’s simplest form, a risk assessment can be done in 5 steps.

  1. Identify the hazard (what can happen).
  2. Who can be effected.
  3. Estimate the severity (how bad can someone get hurt) and the probability (how likely is it to happen).
  4. Describe control measures (what you’ll do to reduce the amount of risk).
  5. Reevaluate your risk level (to see if you’ve reduced risk to an acceptable level).

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

You don’t have to do it by yourself

You’re not the only one completing risk assessments.

  • Your 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.

From a legal point of view, the party that introduces the risk is also the one that does the risk assessment.

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 risks 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 the amount of risk once you’ve identified it. I’ll show you a simple framework you can use for every situation you may encounter.