Outdoor events: planning for the rainy day

Those planning outdoor events have much more to consider than just the weather.

Those planning outdoor events have much more to consider than just the weather.

Risk Assessments

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides free advice on their website about running events safely and confirms that an event organiser has a duty to plan, manage and monitor the event to make sure that workers and the visiting public are not exposed to health and safety risks.

The website provides a useful checklist for event organisers to follow when planning an event and suggests that a safety plan should be drawn up to include a risk assessment of all hazards on site. It highlights the following factors as being potential hazards at any outdoor event:

  • Buried services such as electric cables
  • Segregation of cars and pedestrians
  • First aid, toilet and wash facilities
  • Emergency arrangements
  • Weather forecast news

There has been a stark reminder recently of the importance of proper planning, following the conviction of Shelby and William Thurston of gross negligent manslaughter and associated health and safety offences. The pair were sentenced to three years in prison each after seven year old Summer Grant died in a bouncy castle that blew away in strong winds. In sentencing, the Judge commented that a reasonably prudent person would have foreseen the obvious and serious risks and the failure to have any sensible regard to the weather was at the heart of their negligence.


The event organiser is also required to safeguard the health and safety of employees and others, including contractors who are involved in the running of the event. The HSE recommends a site induction to ensure that the team is familiar with the risks associated with their activities or tasks.

The workforce should also be provided with adequate welfare facilities and consideration should be given to Working Time Regulations, minimum and maximum temperatures for working and the number of toilets that should be available to staff.

The organiser is required by law to ensure that staff are competent to undertake their role safely. The organiser should give careful consideration to who is tasked with preparing risk assessments and health and safety plans and where possible, professional advice should be obtained.

Often, outdoor events make use of a volunteer workforce however, duties afforded to such individuals are different to those of an employee. A volunteer working for an event organiser will not have duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 other than the duty not to misuse or interfere with items provided for health and safety reasons.

From set up to clear up

Event organisers should also bear in mind that their health and safety obligations continue from the time that the team arrive on site to set up the event until they are finished clearing up once everyone has gone home. As such, consideration should be given to the risks associated with tasks that may be carried out once members of the public have left such as light rigging/dismantling or setting up/taking down tents or marquees.

As such, a complete risk assessment and method statement should be completed to cover all foreseeable risks associated with the event being organised.

It is well documented that effective planning makes for a more successful outcome. Time invested at an early stage in preparing for an event whether large or small, will be beneficial and will make it more likely that the event is compliant with health and safety legislation. Unfortunately however, no amount of planning will guarantee sunshine on the day of the event!

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