How to create a Risk Assessment.

I get asked this a lot by event professionals. Mostly, they are asking in relation to a H&S risk assessment. It is important to state that an experienced event manager will not only create a H&S risk assessment but they will also incorporate financial, organizational, administrative and reputational risk into their planning.

But I digress. The answer depends on what you are doing, where you are doing it, who is doing it, and how it is being done!

Clearly that is not at all helpful. So I thought I would introduce some `hazards' for you to consider so that you can at least start to create a H&S risk assessment, given an indication of what to look for.

According to the Health & Safety Executive “A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm”. Source:

The top 10 hazards to consider.

  1. Vehicles and transport. Where possible separate vehicles from people.
  2. Lighting. Is it too bright or too dark. Quality of lighting can affect how people work and see other hazards.
  3. Housekeeping. Agree that your event area be kept tidy during set-up and breakdown, not just during the event itself. If necessary block your site off to non-workers.
  4. Heights. Anyone who works at height should do so with the appropriate training. This includes just climbing a few rungs on a ladder. Falls can cause serious harm.
  5. Slips and trips. Set designated routes or block off your site until it is safe to cross. If outside, allow for inclement weather and uneven surfaces in planning.
  6. Electricity. PAT testing if equipment is portable. Check for overloading points and ensure proper equipment is used if outside.
  7. Fire. Understand the risks if live flames, electricity or fuel is being used. Ensure that the fire risk is clear to all and what to do if there is an issue.
  8. Chemicals. In this instance, chemicals can also mean other harmful substances. Data sheets clearly advise on what can and cannot be done with substances that can cause harm. Don't assume because you use it at home that it is not a harmful substance!
  9. Noise & vibration. Be aware of the requirement for noise control, particularly for employees working long hours on a noisy site.
  10. Manual handling. It’s not just about lugging around great weights. This refers to repetitive movements too, or lesser weights but awkward to carry. Manual handling training is an important part of an event managers job. 

The type of event you undertake will determine what your risks are. This list is by no means final. You may need to consider drugs and alcohol, stress, temperature, individual workstations, protective equipment and so on.

Whatever you do, ensure you know what you are doing and do it well. There will be no second chance should an incident/accident happen and you need to explain your actions to the authorities. 

And remember, remember. You cannot transfer your responsibility to another party - even if you have a contract with them.

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