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Risk assessments

A risk assessment is the identification and assessment of all reasonably foreseeable hazards and the identification of measures to mitigate the potential risks.

Risk assessments involve identifying what incidents, hazards and threats exist, or may exist, and identifying mitigating actions to reduce their potential impact.

Although the ultimate responsibility for commissioning risk assessments lies, as always, with the venue management and/or event organiser, all risk assessments must be conducted by competent persons with the appropriate skills and experience.

Risk assessment is not an exact science because different people and organisations perceive risk in different ways. It is therefore good practice for risk assessments to be reviewed by a group of people in consultation, rather than by a single individual.

Each risk assessment should be recorded on a standard, pre-prepared form and should be signed and dated by the individual responsible. It should be held within the
Operations Manual (for generic assessments) or the Event Management Plan (for
event specific assessments).

Chapter 5 of SG03: Event Safety Management provides full information on risk management.

This includes:

  • Risk management procedures
  • Review and audit processes
  • Risk categorisation

Risk assessment categories

Standard, or generic risk assessments

These are conducted to consider potential incidents, hazards or threats when the venue is in standard operational mode.

This type of risk assessment is typically drawn up before the start of a season at venues which stage the same sport or type of event on a regular basis. It will, however, need to be supplemented on an event-to-event basis by the following.

  • number of visits to grounds;
  • number of formal meetings with local authorities, clubs, the emergency services and other representative bodies;
  • number of licences issued and the time taken;
  • number of safety certificates examined and the number considered satisfactory;
  • time taken to handle enquiries;
  • number of complaints received and the outcomes

Event specific risk assessments

These are conducted to consider potential incidents, hazards or threats arising from the specific event in question, also when the venue is in standard operational mode.

Even if standard or generic risk assessments have been completed, no two events are identical. Each might attract a slightly different demographic, or take place at a different time of the day, or year, or in different circumstances or in different weather conditions.

Therefore, an event specific risk assessment is critical.

Dynamic or ongoing risk assessments

These consider incidents or hazards that emerge, or threats that are identified, during the event planning cycle.

Any risk assessment can reflect conditions or circumstances only at the time the assessment is conducted. As conditions or circumstances change, as incidents occur, as hazards arise, or as threats are identified, it will be necessary to conduct a further, dynamic risk assessment to determine whether further controls or mitigation measures, or changes to standard operational procedures, will be necessary.

Statutory risk assessments

These are conducted as required under local or national legislation, for example, in relation to:

  • health and safety;
  • fire safety;
  • medical provision; and
  • equality and inclusivity.

Risk assessments carried out by external agencies

Events are often graded or categorised by external agencies or emergency services, such as the police, in order to ascertain their own resourcing levels. Third party contractors such as broadcasters and caterers should also provide their own risk assessments.

Risk assessment headings

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

Note that this list is not offered in an order of priority, and that it is the responsibility of the venue management and/or event organiser to assess the risks from any additional incidents, hazards or threats that may pertain to the venue, event or the context in which it is to be staged.

  1. Venue, including structures / physical environment / overlay.
  2. Event, including its specific characteristics / hazards arising from the activity.
  3. People including the anticipated audience / staffing issues.
  4. Systems and services, including power supplies / communications / digital networks.
  5. Security, including threat levels / accreditation procedures / crime and disorder.
  6. Fire. including ignition sources / fuel storage / exit routes / means of escape.
  7. Weather, including extremes of temperature / wind / migration of spectators.

Chapter 5 of SG03: Event Safety Management outlines comprehensive information on risk management.

Risk assessment methodology

Each risk assessment should:

  • Identify the hazards to which all people at the venue, or in a specific section of
    the venue, may be exposed.
  • Identify specific groups of people who may be at risk, where, and at what point during the event cycle (including before, during and after the event).
  • Evaluate the risks and record the findings (for example, using a risk matrix).
  • Determine whether the existing controls or mitigation measures are adequate, based on the likelihood of the hazard occurring, and the potential severity of its impact. If they are not sufficient, determine what additional controls or mitigation measures should be put in place.

If the outcome of a risk assessment is that the venue is not safe, or if the venue management and/or event organiser are unable or unwilling to eliminate or mitigate the risks identified, consideration should be given to either:

  • Modify the event
  • Close the section of the venue in question, or
  • Delay, postpone or cancel the event.

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