A Brief Guide to Risk Assessments

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Whether it’s a firework display, a summer fete or the turning on of the Christmas lights, events can be very important to a community’s sense of identity, by providing a focus that brings people together. However organising an event brings with it a number of key responsibilities.

Organisers become responsible for the safety of everyone at the event, including the public and any employees or volunteers even if the event is free or in aid of a charity.

It is advisable to complete a risk assessment for your event. This will help ensure that it runs as smoothly and safely as possible.

A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what could cause harm to people so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm.

Step 1 - Identify the hazards

Plan your event on paper, listing the activities and equipment that will be involved. Then think about the hazards relating to each activity and piece of equipment. A hazard is something with the potential to cause harm, such as any trip hazards, the movement of vehicles, high noise levels and the like.

Step 2 – Identify who could be affected

For each hazard that you identify you should list the people who could be affected. Amongst others this would include volunteers and members of the public.

You need to consider who will be attending the event i.e. children, older people and people with disabilities.

Step 3 – Establish the risks

The risk is the likelihood of someone being harmed by the hazard. You need to establish your event’s risks and decide whether you have done enough to reduce them. You should list the measures you have already taken to control the risks so that you can decide whether you need to do anything else.

Classify the risks into high, medium and low and then for each risk consider whether or not it can be eliminated completely and if it can’t, decide what you have to do to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.

Step 4 - Record your findings

You should list your findings so that you have a record of all significant hazards, the nature and extent of the risks and the action required to control them. Keep this record for future reference and so that you can demonstrate to interested parties that you have identified any significant risks and the control measures that you have put in place.

Step 5 - Review and revise

Your risk assessments will need to be reviewed and updated if any of the risks change while you are planning the event.