Hazard identification and risk management

Events are particularly susceptible to risks. Crowds, new staff and volunteers, movement of goods and equipment, a unique venue, not to mention the excitement of the event all combine to increase the potential for risks.

An incident at your event can have a number of consequences, such as the injury or even the death of a member of the public, performer, staff or volunteer. Other consequences may be damage to equipment or the venue. Organisers should also consider the impact to the reputation of the event, the implications for future sponsorship and the long-term financial consequences when hazard identification and risk management processes are not undertaken thoroughly.

For this reason, it is important that you take the time to identify potential hazards and then determine ways to remove the risk entirely, reduce the possibility of the risk occurring or lower the impact of the risk. Get together with other people in your organising team to ask “what if” and brainstorm ideas.

Preparing your plan

Below is a sample plan which you are welcome to use and change to suit your event. It contains several examples of risks which may be relevant.

If you already have a Risk Management Plan for your event, you are welcome to send us that one.

Step 1. Identify the hazards

A number of potential hazards are common to most events, but some will be unique to yours.

Think about hazards both during the event and while you are bumping in and out.

At the site

  • Is the site near water?
  • Are there roads nearby?
  • Is the area fenced?
  • Is there water or electricity underground that you need to be aware of?
  • Are there trip hazards

Created by the event and all of its activities

  • Will there be a jumping castle or rides at the event? How can riders and nearby patrons be kept safe?
  • Will vehicles be coming on site, and how will you keep these away from guests and staff?
  • Are you providing food? How will you ensure food safety is maintained so guests don’t become sick?
  • Are there animals at your event? How will you keep these secure so they don’t injure patrons and staff?
  • Will you have fireworks? How will you keep these away from guests? How will you let the local community know that you will hold a fireworks display so they can keep their pets safe?

Hazards you have little control over

  • Winds may make structures such as marquees, jumping castles and inflatable arches dangerous. How will these be tied down?
  • What will you do if the weather becomes extreme?
  • How can you reduce the risk of the event being impacted by bushfires?
  • How could you guard against threats such as terrorism or vehicles being driven in to crowds?

Step 2. Determine the risk

What could be the impact of these hazards? For example, if there is water near the site, could a person fall in? Could they be injured or drown?

Step 3. Determine the probability and the severity of an incident

In the example of the water near the site, how likely is it that someone could fall in? How serious could this be? This will decide its Risk Rank.

Step 4. Consider what controls you could put in place

Ideally, risks should be eliminated but this isn’t always possible. In the example of water nearby, you could eliminate the risk by moving to a site without water however, if this isn’t viable, you could consider:

  • Engineer the risk by installing barricades along the water’s edge
  • Engineer the risk by having staff placed near the water keeping patrons away
  • Administer the risk by installing signs warning guests of the danger
  • Administer the risk by having first aid staff on site
  • Administer the risk by having kayakers in the water to watch if people fall in and alerting staff to get them out.

Step 5. What is the probability and severity with the controls

With the controls in place, what is the probably and potential severity of the risk?

Step 6. Share this plan with the event team

Share this plan with the event team so they understand what needs to be done. Make sure that someone is responsible for each control.

Step 7. Review and update annually

Look through your Risk Management Plan each year. At your event debrief, find out about incidents and “near misses” and add these to you plan. See if there are more effective controls that you could use.

More information and assistance

If you would like more information on Risk Management, NSW Premier and Cabinet provides some useful information and links.

For assistance, please contact:

Tina Young, Tourism Events Coordinator (Acting):