Health and safety considerations for event planning

April 2011

Monash University has a duty of care for the health and safety of employees, students and visitors who attend activities at any of the University's campuses. Part of the responsibility for health and safety rests with those that plan, prepare and present these activities. This information sheet aims to assist those committees in this task by providing a checklist of typical health and safety issues that should to be taken into consideration at the earliest stage of the planning process.

Not all issues will be relevant to all activities and many will have been taken into account during the course of routine planning. However if any of the pertinent questions prompt a negative response, those planning the activity should identify and introduce appropriate risk control measures.

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

1. Emergency management

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 E Phones, PA systems).
  • 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 are they trained in their use.
  • Staff instructed to ensure that the number of people admitted to enclosed areas such as laboratories, lecture theatres and the like does not exceed the number permitted for those spaces. For example, people are not permitted to sit or stand in the aisles in any lecture theatre. There can be no exceptions for functions such as Open Day.
  • Access and egress routes are sufficient, well defined and kept clear at all times.

2. Injury or illness

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

  • Sufficient first-aiders present in each building as indicated by a first aid assessment.
  • First aiders are easily identified.
  • Other first aid services are available on campus (e.g. St John's Ambulance, medical assistance) and method of contact made known.
  • Staff are aware that all accidents, incidents, near misses and hazards must be reported according to Monash procedures using the Hazard and incident report (pdf 38kb).

3. Demonstrations in laboratories or workshops, including hands-on, public involvement

The highest possible level of care must be exercised to protect members of the public who attend practical demonstrations. Special care must be taken where members of the public are invited to participate in a demonstration and further care must be taken if children are involved. Children must be supervised at all times.

When planning demonstrations, is the likelihood of the following adverse outcomes taken into account?

  • Chemical/gas escapes/exposures.
  • Burns (chemical/thermal).
  • Noise, especially within the confines of a lab or workshop and most especially where children may be present.
  • Poisoning from contact with materials used in a demonstration or otherwise accessible within the lab or workshop.
  • Broken glass and the risk of lacerations or infection.
  • Fire/explosion, as part of the demonstration or as a consequence of it.
  • A risk assessment for the proposed demonstration completed.
  • Appropriate measures in place to eliminate or control the listed (and any other) adverse outcomes.
  • Demonstrations abandoned or modified if the appropriate measures cannot be implemented or maintained in the presence of members of the public.
  • Members of the public who are invited to take part in a demonstration are instructed in the procedures to be followed.
  • Personal protection equipment issued where deemed necessary to members of the public taking part in a demonstration and people instructed in its correct use.

4. Demonstrations/displays involving operating mechanical equipment

This includes any unattended working exhibits and the use of plant and machinery with an operator/demonstrator in attendance. For example, machine tools in workshops, testing rigs, robotic equipment, welding and other examples of hot work.

When planning demonstrations/displays, is the likelihood of the following adverse outcomes taken into account?

  • Entanglement in working machinery.
  • Lacerations due to sharp or protruding components.
  • Crushing due to body parts being caught between moving objects.
  • Electrocution, as a result of temporary electrical wiring, entanglement in power leads/cables.
  • Burns due to contact with hot surfaces or materials.
  • Noise that could be injurious, whether continuous or impact.
  • A risk assessment for the proposed demonstration/display completed.
  • Appropriate measures in place to eliminate or control the listed (and any other) adverse outcomes.
  • Demonstrations abandoned or modified if the appropriate measures cannot be implemented or maintained in the presence of members of the public.

5. Static displays within buildings

Inappropriately placed displays may impede egress in the event of an emergency. Falling displays may cause injury.

  • Static displays inherently stable or, if necessary, fixed securely to avoid them falling over.
  • Displays clear of egress routes and fire and emergency equipment?
  • Precautions taken to eliminate or control the dangers presented by displays that comprise items that could present a danger to unwary members of the public.
  • A risk assessment of the locations, construction and stability of the proposed displays been completed.
  • Displays removed or relocated if appropriate measures cannot be implemented or maintained in the presence of members of the public.

6. 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 (This could include 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, eg. hot, cold, windy, storms.

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

  • suitably qualified persons are engaged to lay out and connect leads and cables
  • the 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
    • the 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.

7. Manual handling

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

  • A risk assessment of the manual handling tasks required to set up the displays has been completed.
  • 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 the techniques apply to their tasks.
  • Staff instructed in the correct and safe use of any hand tools (eg. hammers, screw drivers, staple guns) that they may need to use as part of their tasks.

8. Unauthorised access to non-public areas

Whether inadvertent, mere curiosity or with malicious intent such as theft, sabotage, damage or harassment.

  • Public access areas clearly and unambiguously defined.
  • Emergency escape routes readily available, especially where barriers or locked doors are used to limit public access.
  • All non-public areas are well secured, ie. doors locked to offices, laboratories and workshops to prevent inadvertent or intentional entry.
  • Staff advised to direct people away from non-public areas.
  • Staff advised regarding the correct course of action to follow if intruders are detected in restricted areas. For example, reporting unsupervised children, suspicious activity/characters, delinquents to the person in charge or security.
  • Appropriate steps taken to avoid drawing attention to sensitive areas such as animal houses.

9. Contractor management

  • All contractors engaged to perform tasks have completed the appropriate induction program and a Job Safety Assessment (JSA)

Further information

Advice and assistance with this process can be obtained from the local OHS consultant or from OHS by: