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Key principles of sports grounds safety

Regardless of the size of the venue or the activity taking place, there are five key principles for spectator safety.

Regardless of the size of the venue or the activity taking place, there are five key principles for spectator safety:

Grounds have a responsibility to keep all people safe

For all individuals involved in the management, organisation or hosting of an event, whatever their role, whatever the nature of the event, wherever the event is staged, the safety of all people present must take precedence over every other concern.

‘All people’ includes not only spectators or audience members but also players, athletes, participants and performers, competition officials, venue staff, event staff, representatives of the emergency services, representatives of the media, and indeed any individual who is in attendance at the event, in whatever role.

You must know and understand the safe capacity

At its most basic level, one of the first issues for any venue management and/ or event organiser to consider is the capacity of the sports ground and its suitability for accommodating the anticipated attendance numbers.

No sports ground, or section within it, including those areas where people queue to gain entry, or congregate for amenities, or disperse, can be considered safe if there are more people present – and that includes all people, not only spectators – than that area can accommodate safely.

You must assess the risks involved

Event safety management is, in essence, about the management of risk.

More specifically, managing risk is one of the principal means by which venue management and/or event organisers can meet their responsibility to achieve a reasonable degree of safety for all people present at an event.

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Risk management

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Safety management procedures are just as critical as the physical environment

Safety at sports grounds is achieved by establishing a balance between good management and good design.

In this respect, safety cannot be achieved simply by ensuring that individual components of a ground – such as stairways, gangways, seated areas or terraces – are satisfactory in themselves. The inter-relation of these and other components, such as concourses and CCTV systems, is critical. None can be treated in isolation without consideration of the effect its design and management has upon other components. They should all be compatible and combine to form a balanced unit.

Furthermore, good management will not necessarily compensate for poor design, or vice versa.

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Safety management

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Safety cannot be achieved in isolation

Whilst the responsibility for safety in a sports ground rests with the ground management, it cannot be achieved by the ground alone – no venue or event exists in isolation. It requires the participation and co-operation of numerous agencies and stakeholders, depending on the sports ground and the event. This is what is meant by implementing an integrated approach to safety.

A key factor of this is the need for grounds, and wider stakeholders, to consider Zone Ex – that is the areas outside of the ground, but which may have an impact on the safe ingress or egress of spectators. In most locations the routes or areas that make up Zone Ex fall outside the legal jurisdiction of the venue management and/or event organiser, it is nevertheless incumbent upon them to ensure that all safety, security and service arrangements within that zone are integrated, co-ordinated and agreed by all key stakeholders prior to the event.

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Outside wembley stadium

Zone Ex

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