a step by step guide to safety at events, fêtes, fairs, car boot sales, indoor and outdoor fundraisers, craft shows etc. page updated 4 Mar 2017

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Guide to Planning
Safe Events part I

A Step-By-Step Guide with Hints and Tips
© KayDeeElle 2002

If you're looking for The Event Safety Guide by the
Health and Safety Executive, you can buy it here

Guide Contents

we've scattered around pictures of decor, themes and
props to break the monotony of plain text

..before you start - remember, KayDeeElle are to here to give you ideas for your theme and also to let you know the various aspects of what's involved and the decisions you likely will need to make.

Ideas about decor and design to stimulate your creativity..

..so browse around and check out what ideas we can tickle in your mind...

Is this for you? ...read on
No scapegoats! ...the buck stops with you!
Plan your event ...you gotta have a plan, Sam
Evaluating any risks ...danger, danger, Will Robinson
Preparing for Emergencies ...contingencies, belts and braces
Let's get organised ...don't overdo that committee thing!
Who to contact prior... ...you're more than a number in my little black book ;-)
Prepare the Site and facilities ...special guide to doing it in public
People are People too ...lost souls, special needs, and erm.. biological functions
Stewards' duties ...the nameless officials who make it all happen
Pre- and During-Event checklist ...did I leave the cooker on? Or last minute checks
Recommended reading ...for the specifics

If you're using health and safety consultants, use this guide to confirm they're on the ball!

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Hint: if you're looking for a job in the event industry, you need to know what's in this guide.
It's essential background reading to give you the edge.

Is this for you?

It definitely is if your event is a

  • fête
  • fair
  • country or craft show
  • car boot fair
  • fund-raiser

Even if you're using health and safety consultants or health and safety software, your responsibilities as an organiser to ensure safety are just the same. If you're having a smaller indoor event like a jumble sale, presentation or exhibition and so on, held in church, school or village halls you must still treat health and safety with due regard. So if that's you, read on..

You might be an organisation such as a school parent / teacher association, church, community or voluntary group or charitable society. Well, this guide is for you..

But do remember, it's only a guide, so you'll probably want to follow up on the recommended reading in the appendix.

Hint: Keep an emailing list of interested parties so you can let them know of updates and significant milestones being reached.. or use a blog for the same purpose...


In the UK, the most relevant safety law is likely to be the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974 and its accompanying Regulations (see also: The Legislative Reform (Health and Safety Executive) Order 2008). If you're outside the UK, see your local equivalent.

No scapegoats!

Let's not beat about the bush. Health and safety is your responsibility; the buck stops with you - not your safety consultants! Note that all events, even those in aid of charity, must follow recognised safety standards.

So to be clear, you and your fellow organisers will be responsible under the law for the safety of everyone at the event, including the public, your members and or any employees.


You must carry out a 'risk assessment'. This is part of the legal requirements you have to meet:

  • identify all hazards that could cause harm to someone
  • decide who might be harmed and how
  • assess the risks
  • decide on the action you'll take to minimise the risks

You also have to:

  • Work out how you will put your planned actions into practice and write it up.. this is your safety manual.

a risk is the likelihood and effects of a hazard happening

Hint: If the event is being held at one of those seasonally active times of year, book vital services early, especially hotel reservations and visual design.


You can find out what to expect from decor services here

Plan your event

You'll get many of the details you'll need as input into your safety planning when you do your general planning for the event. The main topics you'll cover in general planning include

  • deciding on the venue and size
  • the contents of the event
  • the dates and times it will be open
  • deciding whether admission will be free, by pre-sold tickets or by payment at the gate
  • estimating the approximate number and age ranges of the people expected to attend
  • choosing suppliers for things like prop hire and decor

Find out more about planning...


Evaluating any Risks

Go through a list of the attractions and activities that make up the event. Identify all the possible hazards that could occur and make a short written assessment.

Remember that any materials, structures or machinery will add risk to the event. Look out for, for example, trailing cables, ladders, water features, gas and other fuel containers.

If the event is going to include any of the following attractions or activities then you should definitely have a written assessment:

  • Karting and fairground equipment
  • Stands or stalls (especially those involving weapons, guns, darts and so on)
  • Bouncy castles and children's amusement rides
  • Bungee jumping, hot-air ballooning and helicopter rides
  • Displays and parades involving animals, vehicles, weapons, flames, special effects, parachuting

Each will have its own special hazards that you should identify so that comprehensive safety precautions can be prepared.

Entertainment such as laser or fireworks displays, concerts, performances and dancing, will present hazards that require specialised guidance.

When you have listed the possible hazards of each activity:

  • decide how you will reduce the risks in each case and the precautions you intend to take
  • ask anyone supplying or operating attractions, activities or equipment to provide you with their own written assessments and include these with yours.

Make sure your you consider the following when listing the hazards:

  • older people
  • people with disabilities
  • children (who may be unsupervised)
  • excitement generated by the activity
  • approximate number of people expected

The completed assessments will form the safety manual for the event. This is evidence that you and your fellow organisers have taken all reasonable precautions for a safe event. Your visitors and guests will enjoy a safe environment and you and your organisers will have protection in law should the unthinkable happen.

Go to Part II



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