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Contingency planning

Contingency plans are an essential part of a sports grounds safety management procedures.

For each reasonably foreseeable high-level risk that might impact on the overall delivery of a safe event it is therefore necessary to draw up, in advance, a planned response known as a ‘contingency plan’.

It is the responsibility, and in some circumstances the legal duty of the venue management and/or event organiser, to draw up contingency plans.

Contingency plans set out the actions to be taken in response to incidents, hazards or threats occurring at the venue that might prejudice public safety or disrupt standard operational procedures.

A contingency plan is not the same as a risk assessment. They may be considered an extension of a risk assessment; seeking to identify what actions need to be taken if an incident escalates to become critical, or is immediately critical.

Indeed, should an incident, hazard or threat arise that necessitates the implementation of a contingency plan, it is likely that the venue management and/or event organiser, and the plan itself will, subsequently, be subject to close public scrutiny.

Owing to their importance, it is therefore strongly recommended that contingency plans are drawn up by, or under the direction of, the Safety Officer, or another senior representative of the safety management team; that is, individuals who are deeply familiar with the venue, its layout and operation, and the characteristics of the event.

It may however be necessary to seek advice from third parties, such as technical experts, representatives of the emergency services and local and/or national authorities.

Contingency plan implementation

There are typically four potential outcomes from an incident, hazard or threat (referred to here simply as the ‘incident’):

Outcome 1: the incident is managed without the need to interrupt the event or implement contingency plans.

Outcome 2: the incident does escalate, is managed by implementing a contingency plan and the event continues under standard operational procedures.

Outcome 3: the incident does escalate, is resolved by the contingency plan, but the event can continue only under revised operational procedures.

Outcome 4: the incident cannot be resolved and it is impossible to continue under revised operational procedures. The event must be delayed, abandoned, cancelled or postponed and contingency plans implemented to manage the resultant situation.

Contingency plans – headings for consideration

Owing to the diverse scale and complexity of venues, and the diverse characteristics of events, it is not possible to provide a list of all the incidents, hazards and threats that may need to be considered when drawing up contingency plans. The majority will, however, fall under the following headings:

  • Venue – including structural failure / Zone Ex
  • Event – including transport provision / impact of critical breakdown in ticketing
  • People – including congestion / absence of key personnel / exceptional egress
  • Systems and services – including loss of power / loss of control point / gas leaks
  • Security – including terrorist attack / cyber attack
  • Fire – including fires inside / outside venue / exceptional egress
  • Weather – including extreme weather / winds / temperatures

SG03: Event Safety Management provides full details of contingency plans and points for consideration.

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