Health and safety considerations for event planning

March 2021

Monash University has a duty of care for the health and safety of staff, students and visitors who attend activities at any of the University's campuses. Responsibility for health and safety rests with those that plan, prepare and present these activities. This information sheet aims to highlight to event organisers the typical health and safety issues that may arise while planning, setting up or running an event.  Event organisers should aim to address these issues and put in place controls to mitigate risks at the earliest stage of the event planning process.

The recommendations provided in this document may not be relevant to all activities and it is likely that many will already have been taken into account during the course of planning. If any of the items have not been addressed, those responsible for planning the activity should identify and introduce appropriate measures to control risks.

For the purposes of this guidance, staff refers to any person who is in any way engaged in the organisation, preparation or presentation of activities.

1. Emergency management

On-campus

Any building that is open to the public during events could be crowded with people who have little or no knowledge about what to do in the event of an emergency.

  • Staff sufficiently informed to be able to direct visitors to safety in the event of an emergency
  • Staff aware of the locations of fire and emergency alarms (including break glass alarms, red emergency phones, PA systems, assembly areas)
  • Staff know how to initiate an alarm and are aware of the actions to follow in the event of an alarm
  • Staff know the locations of fire extinguishers and trained in their use
  • Staff instructed to ensure that the number of people admitted to enclosed areas such as laboratories, lecture theatres, etc. does not exceed the number permitted for those spaces (e.g. people are not permitted to sit or stand in the aisles in any lecture theatre). There are no exceptions to capacity limits
  • Access and egress routes are sufficient, well defined and kept clear at all times

Off-campus

Participants are to follow the directions of the local emergency personnel.  If taking part in a field trip, follow the directions of the Activity Supervisor and/or emergency services personnel (e.g. police, paramedics and fire rescue services).

2. Injury or illness

A staff member or visitor that becomes ill or is injured during events may require immediate or prompt first aid.

  • Sufficient First Aiders available as indicated by a First Aid Assessment
  • First Aiders are easily identifiable with either administrative and/or physical measures (e.g. list on notice board, first aid kit or online; signage at event)
  • Staff aware of other first aid services available on campus (e.g. University Health Services, Security personnel First Aiders, neighbouring department First Aiders)
  • Staff aware to report all accidents, incidents, near misses and hazards via S.A.R.A.H. in accordance with the Managing OHS Hazards and Incidents Procedure

3. Food safety

Food safety includes all aspects of preparing and serving food, such as avoiding allergic reactions, sensitivities and intolerances, managing any risks of choking and ensuring that food is not contaminated.

Catering for participants with allergy or anaphylaxis

The person responsible for organising catering must ensure that people with allergies or anaphylaxes are not exposed to trigger foods.  As part of a risk management plan, the following should be addressed:

Pre-event

  • Collect allergy/anaphylaxis information from participants.  Request both dietary requirement and food allergy/anaphylaxis information from event participants
  • Event organiser to notify caterer(s) of allergy/anaphylaxis and caterer(s) confirm that the information has been received and can cater for the allergy/anaphylaxis and/or dietary requirements
  • Event organiser notifies participant that:
    • their allergy/anaphylaxis information has been received
    • their allergy/anaphylaxis information has been conveyed to the event caterer(s)
    • the participant is to follow their own ASCIA Allergy/Anaphylaxis Action Plan
    • the participant is required to carry their own adrenaline auto-injector device (e.g. EpiPen) and identify themselves to staff at the event

During the Event

  • Event organiser advises staff and First Aiders of known allergy/anaphylaxis of participant(s)
  • Event organiser and/or staff to confirm order requirements have been fulfilled on delivery

4. Outdoor pursuits, displays and other activities

This section includes any outdoor activities, such as erecting/dismantling tents, displays or information kiosks.

  • Tents, kiosks and outdoor displays that will be used are in sound condition and suitable for the purpose for which they will be used
  • Measures been taken to ensure the stability of tents, kiosks and outdoor displays (e.g. inherent stability based on appropriate design and construction, the use of suitable lashings, sand-filled bags and similar control measures)
  • Tents, displays and kiosks erected and dismantled only by trained/skilled persons
  • Contingencies made for extreme weather conditions, e.g. hot, cold, windy, storms

If electrical power is supplied to tents, displays and kiosks:

  • Suitably qualified persons engaged to lay out and connect leads and cables
  • Layout of leads and cables are checked by the local Safety Officer (or other appropriate person) to ensure:
    • there is no risk of staff or visitors becoming entangled in the leads or cables (power cable traps should be used wherever practicable)
    • there are no tripping hazards
    • appropriate physical protection has been provided to avoid damage to leads and cables (e.g. protected from water, heat and other sources of damage)
    • leads and cables are connected to a residual current device (safety switch) which is either part of the overall power circuit or a separate plug-in device

5. Activity risk management

Activities can present unique risks during site set-up (bump in), event operation, and site pack-up (bump out).  Risks must be managed in accordance with the OHS Risk Management Procedure. Some typical risks that can emerge during events are:

  • Setting up pavilions and temporary structures
  • Equipment use
  • Manual handling
  • Managing emergencies and first aid
  • Provision of food and drink
  • Working outdoors
  • Operating vehicles
  • Engaging in third party services

6. Manual handling

Much of the setting-up and dismantling of displays and facilities will involve some people performing manual handling tasks. Lifting, carrying or using unfamiliar hand tools can lead to strain injuries.

  • Risk assessment of the manual handling tasks required to set up displays complete
  • Mechanical aids provided (where possible) to reduce the need for manual handling
  • Staff instructed in the use of the mechanical aids
  • Staff instructed in the techniques of manual handling as applies to their tasks
  • Staff instructed in the correct and safe use of any hand tools (e.g. hammers, screw drivers, staple guns) that they may need to use to undertake their tasks

7. Areas of work and non-public access

Events may present potentially hazardous work areas including hazards arising as a result of making changes to a work area.  It must be ensured that:

  • Work areas have in place suitable systems to restrict public access (where appropriate)
  • Any changes made to the work area are managed in accordance with the Management of Work Areas Procedure
  • Work areas are appropriately signed to:
    • warn of present danger at all access points
    • ensure public access areas are clearly defined
  • Emergency escape routes are readily available, especially where barriers or locked doors are used to limit public access
  • All non-public areas well-secured (i.e. doors locked to offices, laboratories and workshops to prevent inadvertent or intentional entry)
  • Staff are advised to direct people away from non-public areas
  • Staff are trained in the correct course of action to follow regarding restricted areas (e.g. reporting unsupervised children or suspicious activity or persons to the person in charge or Security)

8. Outsourcing

Frequently, Event Managers will opt to outsource particular activities based on the level of risk.  Common examples including catering, entertainment rides and activities, transport and installation of temporary structures.

Risks associated with outsourced activities must be managed in accordance with the Contractor Management Procedure and the OHS Risk Management Procedure.

Further information

Advice and assistance with this process can be obtained from the local OH&S Consultant/Advisor or from OH&S by: