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Event safety

As an event organiser it’s your responsibility to manage risks to ensure work health and safety is a priority. Good planning and organisation is essential to keep you, your workers and the public safe. The level of detail in your planning depends on the size and complexity of your event.


Risk management

Event organisers must identify and manage hazards, work out the associated risks and how to remove or control them. Managing the risks is key to putting on an event that is both safe and enjoyable.

To get started you need to know what work may cause injury. There are many resources available to help you in identifying and assessing potential hazards. This might be a work health and safety contractor or an organisation, such as the local council. Our free workplace advisory service could also assist in the planning process. As the event organiser, it is your responsibility to manage the process before, during and after the event to make sure that all is going smoothly.

Communication with your workers is a great way to confirm you have thought of all risks. To ensure they know safety is your main priority:

  • provide them with easy to understand information
  • train and supervise your workers, volunteers and contractors
  • give clear instructions on what to do
    • in an emergency
    • in extreme weather conditions, such as strong winds or hot weather
    • if someone is away
    • if someone is injured
  • provide good working conditions – fresh drinking water, clean washing and eating areas, first aid, clean toilets
  • see that they use the appropriate equipment for manual tasks, such as trolleys and sack trucks to move equipment safely
  • encourage them to report any equipment errors and fix these straight away.

Talk to your contractors if your event includes catering, amusement rides, fireworks, or construction such as staging and tents. Check that their workers can carry out the work safely, especially when it comes to:

  • electrical equipment, lights and leads
  • Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) containers and stoves
  • manual tasks, especially for bump in/bump out
  • operation and supervision of rides
  • relevant training, permissions and licences.

Other things you may need to think about include:

  • getting crowds and equipment in and out of the event safely
  • signage and traffic flow
  • safety zones where the public cannot enter
  • how you communicate at the event, such as phones, two-way radio, loudspeaker
  • regular inspections of the event site.

Small and medium sized community events

Safe events are well planned events – nothing should be left to chance. By having good planning processes, event organisers can identify potential hazards, determine risk, and then eliminate them or minimise their impact,  ensuring safety is a priority.

The Event Safety Management Information series is designed for those involved in planning, organising and implementing small to medium sized community events, and to assist organisers in ensuring they have safe management systems in place.

Public events notification

While we do not approve public events, we can provide organisers with safety advice on:

  • registered amusement devices
  • dangerous goods over the licensable quantities, such as 250kg or more of LPG, 120L or more of petrol
  • fireworks
  • large marquees, over 6m in length
  • stages or grandstands that require scaffolding.

If you would like our help with your upcoming event, please complete our Public events assessment checklist and contact us at least 4 weeks prior to the event.

Workplace advisory service

For tips and advice on work health and safety, you can contact our free workplace advisory service.

One of our experienced advisors can visit your event site to help you identify hazards and risks, and provide practical support to improve your safety systems, practices and general approach to safety.

Our advisors are not inspectors, so you can feel comfortable asking us for help.

Read what business have to say about our advisory service.

Work health and safety inspectors

Our work health and safety inspectors are commonly involved in community events to ensure event organisers keep their workers and the community’s health and safety top of mind.

For large-scale community events such as the Adelaide 500, Royal Adelaide Show and music festivals, we will:

  • conduct pre-event audits and site inspections
  • liaise with organisers/owners before and during the events
  • make proactive visits throughout the event process.

Our focus will be to ensure:

Engaging contractors

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) you have work health and safety responsibilities when engaging contractors.

Primary duty of care

You have the primary duty of care and must, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure the health and safety of:

  • workers you have engaged, or caused to be engaged
  • workers carrying out work who are influenced or directed by you, such as contractors
  • anyone else on site, such as visitors and the public.

You owe this duty of care when you:

  • direct or influence work carried out by a worker
  • engage or cause to engage a worker to carry out work, including through sub-contracting
  • have management or control of a workplace.

A worker can be:

  • an employee
  • a contractor or subcontractor
  • an employee of a contractor or subcontractor
  • an employee of a labour hire company who has been assigned to work for a PCBU
  • an outworker
  • an apprentice or trainee
  • a student gaining work experience
  • a volunteer.

Shared responsibilities

If you engage a contractor, both parties have shared responsibilities and must work together to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others.

You must consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities so that work health and safety risks can be effectively managed. The purpose of consultation is to ensure everyone has a shared understanding of the risks, who will be affected and how the risks will be controlled.

The exchange of information helps each person to meet their duty and minimise gaps in safety management. This process can range from directly discussing and planning daily work with contractors to establishing formal mechanisms with written agreements and consultation meetings.

Each PCBU must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult with workers and any health and safety representatives (HSRs) about matters that directly affect their health and safety. This duty extends to all workers.

The duty to consult does not require agreement, although each duty holder retains responsibility for meeting their health and safety duties.

Contracts

The primary duty of care applies to all PCBUs regardless of the terms of any contract. The “no contracting out” provision is fundamental to our WHS laws and essentially means that duty holders cannot limit or modify their obligation by way of a contract with a third party.

Contracts that assume liability to the contractor for all WHS matters arising from the work will be void to the extent it attempts to render the contractor responsible or liable for your statutory duties. The question of what WHS duties you have will always be determined on the facts and circumstances of each case, rather than contractual terms.

Each PCBU retains responsibility and must discharge their duty to the extent to which they have the capacity to influence and control the matter, disregarding any attempts to “contract out” their responsibilities.

Food catering sites

Food catering sites at community events are workplaces too.

You can manage some of the common risks associated with food catering sites at community events by understanding what activities can cause people harm and taking steps to control the associated risks.

Ensure that your workers are trained on how to work safely and are adequately supervised. This includes giving them clear instructions on what to do when safety issues arise, such as:

  • a leaking gas bottle or electrical fault
  • severe weather conditions (eg heat, storms)
  • an injury
  • an emergency (for both the catering site and the event site).

Electrical safety

For electrical safety ensure that:

  • a residual current device (RCD) that accommodates all your electrical items is fitted
  • all electrical leads and electrical equipment are inspected and tested
  • appropriate electrical leads, equipment and connection points are protected from heat sources and wet weather
  • appropriate electrical powerboards are used
  • electrical cables are protected to prevent damage and secured to prevent hazards such as tripping
  • festoon lighting is supported by steel cables or guy wires of at least 2.7 metres height above pedestrians and at least 6 metres above vehicle traffic areas, and that they are installed by a competent person.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)

For LPG safety ensure that:

  • all gas appliances are fit-for-purpose
  • any connections from LPG cylinders to appliances are in good working order
  • LPG cylinders, including spares, are:
    • correctly stored outside in well ventilated areas
    • kept on a firm stable base and secured from falling, such as by chain restraints
    • positioned so that pressure relief valves are facing away from catering vans, tents or other combustible materials
    • kept clear of ignition sources, such as naked flames and electrical sockets
  • plastic milk crates are not used to store LPG cylinders as this may cause static electricity to build up.

Events which use more than a total of 250kg of LPG cylinders may require a licence.

Fire prevention

For fire safety:

  • maintain clearance distances between all ignition sources and combustible materials, such as vans, tent and marquee walls, overhanging trees etc
  • use soapy water or detergent to check for leaks in LPG cylinders and fittings before use
  • safely dispose of used cooking oil and coals, after they have cooled, and clean up excess grease and fat from grills etc
  • fit your structure or van with appropriate, readily available and unobstructed fire-fighting equipment, ensuring that fire extinguishers are charged and within the test date.

Working conditions

Ensure good working conditions for you and your workers by providing:

  • clear, unobstructed entry to and exit from work areas
  • fresh drinking water
  • hygienic washing and eating facilities
  • level floors with no debris/waste pooling on the floor
  • level work surfaces that are well maintained
  • adequate ventilation
  • sufficient space to carry out work and for storage of stock
  • steps or ladders, if supplied, in good condition
  • emergency plans.

First aid

Make sure your first aid kit is stocked and easily accessible.

Lifting and moving equipment

Use trolleys and sack trucks to help you and your workers lift and move equipment and supplies more easily.

Equipment safety

Check all plant and equipment before use and ensure that:

  • guarding is in place, such as on dough rollers, slicers and mixers
  • there are no faults or defects
  • emergency stops are working, if applicable
  • workers are trained in safe working methods

Continually check equipment throughout the event and encourage workers to report any malfunctions to a supervisor or manager.

Structures and marquees

Ensure that:

  • the structure or marquee has been properly erected
  • access to underground services is not obstructed
  • above and below-ground services, such as overhead power lines, are identified during installation and dismantling
  • suitable anchor mechanisms are used (weights/stakes), taking into account adverse weather conditions, especially high winds
  • anchor mechanisms are suitably protected against trips, impalement and traffic
  • the ground is suitable for the anchor mechanisms
  • all guy ropes are in a sound condition
  • you have a safety procedure for severe weather conditions and all workers have been trained in this procedure
  • suitable exits are available and kept clear of tripping hazards at all times
  • adequate lighting is provided for workers and the public.
Inflatable amusement devices

Bouncy castles and inflatable slides can be a lot of fun, however injuries or even fatalities can happen if they are incorrectly set up, anchored, operated or supervised.

The health and safety of the community and anyone in the vicinity must not be put at risk by the operation of inflatable amusement devices.

Plant registration

Land-borne inflatable amusement devices do not require plant registration with us unless the device:

  • relies on a continuous supply of air pressure to maintain its shape (such as a fan attachment), and
  • has a platform height of 3 metres or more (refer to Diagram 1).

DIAGRAM 1 - Measuring Platform Height

Diagram 1: Measuring platform height

The platform height of an inflatable amusement device is measured without anyone on the device, and from the surface supporting the device to the highest point designed to support a person.

PCBU responsibilities

PCBUs such as owners, operators or managers of inflatable amusement devices must ensure that:

  • risks are identified and managed appropriately before set-up, such as checking for
    • overhead or underground power lines
    • location of gas pipelines
    • overhanging trees
    • sloping ground
    • poor drainage
  • inspections for continued safe use are carried out by a competent person
  • annual inspections are carried out in the absence of any other manufacturer information
  • daily checks, routine maintenance, repairs and regular scheduled inspections are carried out and recorded in a log book
  • electrical equipment (such as motors, electrical leads, generators, residual current devices) is inspected annually by a competent person
  • a site emergency plan is prepared, including emergency access, and workers are trained in what to do in an emergency
  • fire extinguishing equipment is provided and inspected and tagged in date
  • workers have been provided with information, training and instruction, such as safe operating procedures, for set-up, use and dismantling
  • devices are secured and anchored as per the manufacturer’s or engineer’s instructions
  • anchor pegs/stakes/weights and guy ropes do not pose a tripping hazard
  • fencing and other control barriers are sufficient to guide patrons and prevent public access to ‘no go’ zones
  • devices are not deployed over water
  • impact mats are installed in areas where patrons could fall off the device (such as at entrances and exits)
  • condition checks for faults, such as wear or rips in the fabric, are conducted during dismantling and any faults recorded and repairs made before next use.

Regular checks

You should conduct regular checks of inflatable amusement devices to ensure that:

  • daily inspections are recorded in the log book
  • maintenance and repairs have been carried out and recorded in the log book
  • anchor stakes/pegs/weights are adequately securing the device and are suitably protected to prevent trips, impalement and traffic damage
  • fall zone impact mats are in place and free of obstacles
  • guarding on electrical equipment, such as those to protect fingers from being caught, is in place and effective.

During operation

When inflatable amusement devices are in operation you must ensure that:

  • supervision is provided at all times by persons who are able to operate the device safely and know what to do in an emergency, such as in case of inclement weather
  • operators or supervisors are not under the influence of or adversely affected by sleep deprivation, alcohol, narcotics or medication
  • only the recommended maximum number of patrons and only those of a similar size and weight are on the device at the same time
  • patrons are instructed in safe use of the equipment
  • patrons are informed that some behaviour (such as somersaults, flips) may put their safety and that of others at risk
  • devices are evacuated then deflated when wind gusts exceed the manufacturer’s guidelines or when wind gusts exceed 40 km per hour, whichever is the lower.

Further information