Planning an event? Hope for the best… but prepare for the worst

Posted by Matt Simon on Mar 31, 2016

Does your business regularly plan and host any type of large events? Or perhaps you're planning a one-time event that needs to go flawlessly.

Whatever your event, proper planning is crucial to its success.

Event organizers must shoulder a significant burden – not the least of which is the responsibility for ensuring the overall health and safety at their events.

That means they’re very likely on the hook for any event-related health and safety failings.

This hefty responsibility can wear down those not prepared to bear it.

As an event organizer, how can you effectively do your job while dealing with the unsettling fact that you’ll be held accountable if something goes wrong?

Simple: You can keep employees, contractors and members of the public safe at your event by following some easy-to-adopt guidelines:

Planning an event

When initiating the event planning process, remember to keep the level of detail in your planning proportionate to your event’s scale, and degree of risk.

Establishing such limits early on will help you avoid overlooking important health and safety hazards, or bogging yourself down in unimportant details.

Next, choose a dedicated team to assist in your various duties. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, and pick a team that can provide support in the areas where you feel weakest.

Once you assemble your team, make sure there is a clear understanding of who will be responsible for what.

Good communication from the start tends to last throughout the whole planning process.

Defer to your organization’s health and safety policy for help assigning responsibilities to your teammates. Most organizations always assign certain health and safety responsibilities to the same person to ensure consistency.

Only after everyone on your team understands his or her general health and safety responsibilities can you begin writing the event’s safety plan, which identifies what resources and facilities you will need in order to uphold health and safety regulations.

Safety plans work using the logic of risk assessments, or assessing the workspace and work-related activities in an effort to identify and prevent all risks associated with your job.

In order to write your event’s safety plan, you will need the following information:

  • The scale, type and scope of the event
  • The type and size of the audience
  • The event’s location
  • The event’s duration
  • The time of day and year the event will be held

As you write the safety plan, be sure to involve your employees, other workers and any stakeholders, such as the venue owner or the local authority.

Widespread involvement and cooperation can help you spot hazards you missed, and guarantee that everyone on-site is on the same page.

The information contained in your safety plan will be the baseline for determining what workplace facilities you need – such as first-aid, toilet, washing, eating, rest and changing facilities – to minimize risks, and ensure the well-being of on-site workers.

It's important to understand that despite your best efforts, sometimes things just go wrong. This is also something you need to plan for.

A properly structured Event Insurance policy can cover everything from bad weather forcing you to cancel your event, to attendees being injured.

Note: make sure you check into Event Insurance as part of your planning process.

Planning for incidents and emergencies

One of your most important responsibilities is establishing emergency response plans. Without writing concrete plans to follow in an emergency, you risk endangering every single person at your event.

Using the information gleaned from your safety plan, develop procedures for specific emergencies, such as fire, structural failure or severe weather.

The more specific your emergency plans, the better. Enlisting the help of the police, and fire and rescue services, can help confirm that your emergency plans are appropriate and safe.

Your emergency plans should outline how to accomplish the requirements listed below:

  • Get people away from immediate danger.
  • Summon and assist emergency services.
  • Handle both severe and non-life-threatening injuries.
  • Deal with the displaced and non-injured, such as attendees at a festival with camping.
  • Liaise with emergency services and other authorities.
  • Protect threatened property.

Be sure every on-site volunteer or worker is prepared to rapidly halt the event, and initiate an evacuation in an emergency situation.

This process, known as “show stop,” involves identifying key people to help initiate the evacuation, and outlines the safest, quickest way to end the event. Everyone should know their responsibilities and be prepared to act.

Managing an event

Your duties as event organizer do not stop once the event starts – if anything, they multiply.

As the event begins, shift your focus from planning and paperwork, to managing and monitoring site operations.

Your responsibilities during the event include the following:

  • Managing – Develop appropriate management systems for each phase of your event. During the actual event, because you cannot be everywhere at once, rely on these systems to help control health and safety risks. Solid planning is essential to hassle-free managing.
  • Coordinating – Foster cooperation between all workers during the event. This promotes different teams solving minor problems together rather than relying on your judgment at every turn.
  • Disseminating information – Communicate all the information you gathered from your risk assessments to everyone on-site – neglecting to do so renders all your work pointless. Disseminate information by word of mouth and signage.
  • Supervising – Your employees and other on-site workers should be competent to safely do their jobs. Make sure you allocate an appropriate level of supervision to ensure site-wide competence.
  • Monitoring and reviewing – Take time to assess your methods and ensure they are being followed. Periodically monitoring your event will help your management team stay agile and ready to respond to any potential problems.

Tailored insurance is best

Even the most organized and well-planned events have issues that arise – and they could be completely out of your control.

For example, you could be hosting a 5k race for charity, and on the day of the event, you’re slammed with severe winds and storms. You’re left with no choice but to cancel.

This type of situation is when the Event Insurance policy you put in place during your planning stage kicks in and prevents you from losing all the time, money and effort you had dedicated to your event.

The risks you face depend on your event – and insurance solutions for event organizers are contingent on the type and scale of your events.

Regardless of the type of event, chances are good that your standard insurance policy will not cover all of your exposures. This is precisely why you need an Event Insurance policy tailored to your specific needs.

Every event planner knows that you should hope for the best but prepare for the worst. The preparation piece is where we come in.

We can help you prepare for the worse-case scenario by providing all the resources to create an insurance solution perfectly suited for your event.

If you’d like to speak with one of our Licensed Insurance Advisors, give us a call.  Or, if you need coverage immediately, apply online and get your policy within minutes.

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