Risk Management

1. What is a Public Event

A public event is defined as any public gathering to which people are invited and encouraged to attend. It may involve some form of activity where people may be enticed to purchase or obtain for free, goods and/ or services. Gatherings may include entertainment and involve the participation of other parties eg stall holders or facilitators of activities.

On-site safety at the event is paramount – your public expects to be able to enjoy your event in safe and secure surrounds - and your committee members need to identify potential hazards during the planning of, and on site at your event, and work to implement solutions. Risk management is the process undertaken to establish all the factors that may have a negative impact on your event and to identify and implement control measures that may overcome or reduce the potential for incidents.

As the Event Organiser you are responsible for the safety of everyone that may be affected through the delivery of your event. It is important to ensure that key stakeholders are involved in identifying risk areas. For events with any level of Council ownership, the following documentation must be provided to Council for approval:

  • Event Notification and Application Form.
  • Risk Assessment (includes running sheet).
  • Copy of advertising material.
  • Certificate of Event Organisers Certificate of Currency for Public Liability Insurance. (Greater Hume Council must be noted as an interested party).

In addition further documentation may be required or requested dependant on the activities being undertaken at your event. If the event has the potential to impact upon traffic movement a Transport Management Plan may also be submitted to Council (minimum 90 days prior to the event).

It is necessary to ensure that appropriate procedures are followed and accurate records are kept of all actions so that should an incident occur there is the ability to prove that reasonable measures were undertaken to ensure safety for all. Council’s process has been developed to ensure that both Council and Event Organisers not only keep appropriate records however also achieve the objective of running a safe and successful event for all concerned.

2. Risk Assessment

An event has many areas of potential risk and therefore Event Organisers should undertake an assessment of the proposed site and activities to identify potential hazards and consequent risks associated with their event, and identify appropriate management controls. Risk Assessments may not prevent mishaps and incidents but will lessen their likelihood ensuring a smoother emergency response.

The Event Organiser must provide a written Risk Assessment to Council as the first step in planning the event. This will ensure that the event has adequate health and safety measures in place. The Event Organiser will need to identify if there is adequately trained personnel involved, that the correct equipment is being used and that the correct safety parameters have been put into place. The basic principles of and processes in risk management are:

  • Identify risks.
  • Assess risks.
  • Implement control measures.
  • Monitor outcomes.

The following are examples of common problems which may arise during your planning and prior to the event:

  • Uneven or holes in grounds or in footpaths.
  • Marquee pegs in thoroughfares.
  • Insufficient crowd control or security.
  • Insufficient exits and entry points leading to congestion.
  • Electrical leads on ground and untagged electrical equipment.
  • Overcrowding in car parks or mixing vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
  • Uneven stage floor or performance space.
  • No hand washing facilities at food handling stalls.
  • Unlicensed amusement devices.
  • Insufficient toilets.
  • Extreme weather circumstances.

The risk associated with these examples could be reduced with simple solutions. Through the early identification of hazards/risks, they can be minimised. It is the Event Organiser’s responsibility to ensure that the event complies with risk management procedures and all relevant paperwork is completed in a timely manner.

3. Public Liability Insurance

Event Organisers are responsible to ensure appropriate Public Liability Insurance is held to financially protect patrons, organisers, volunteers and property owners should an incident occur. Public Liability is a critical part of responsible management of an event and is an important part of managing risk. The minimum requirement of Council is Public Liability Insurance cover of $20 million. Event Cancellation Insurance and Personal Accident (Volunteer Worker) Insurance are optional, however may be of some benefit depending on the type of event.

A Certificate of Currency is required as evidence that cover is applicable and is provided to the insured by their insurance company on request. The certificate will state the nature of the insurance, the amount of cover, the period for which the cover applies and should also note interested parties such as Greater Hume Council if the event has Council involvement.

If the event has the potential implication to affect traffic and a Traffic Management Plan is required then Transport NSW and NSW Police may also need to be noted as interested parties. Contractors (including stall holders) should hold appropriate insurance to cover their activities at the event and copies of their Certificate of Currency should be obtained as evidence that cover is applicable.

It is vital that Event Organisers seek professional advice about the insurance required to cover the event. The type and amount of cover needed will depend on the nature of the event and the requirements of the landowner or venue where you propose to hold the event.

In addition to Public Liability Insurance it may be appropriate to consider other types of insurances including:

  • Workers’ Compensation.
  • Motor Vehicle Insurance.
  • Professional Indemnity Liability.
  • Property (to cover your own equipment).
  • Cancellation Insurance

Note - Council’s Public Liability Insurance only covers Council’s employees and bona fide Council volunteers.

4. Local Community Insurance Services

Many insurers offer Local Community Insurance Services (LCIS) as an appropriate, affordable and easy insurance option for Community Organisations and Associations. LCIS can provide:

  • Public Liability (Broadform) Insurance for annual activities as well as cover for one-off fairs, festivals, fetes, parades, community markets and other events, including cover for stallholders and performers, up to $20 million.
  • Single Event Cover Insurance for one-off events, such as fairs, street parades, festivals, community celebrations, etc. LCIS can work with Event Organiser’s to assist with the following key aspects:
    • Event risk management advice.
    • Public Liability Insurance (covers management and organisation of the event and can be extended to include cover for stallholders, bands and other performers without their own cover).
    • Personal Accident (Volunteer Workers) insurance. o General Property Insurance (cover for hired or loaned equipment).
    • Money Insurance (cover for cash holdings from ticket sales, etc).
    • Event Cancellation Insurance (cover for financial loss from cancellation, eg due to weather, loss of venue, key performer cancels).
  • Event Cancellation Insurance can protect your organisation’s financial investment in community based events, festivals and conferences. Should adverse weather or other unforeseen circumstances beyond your control cause the necessary cancellation, abandonment, postponement or interruption of your event. Event Cancellation Insurance is generally appropriate for events with a budget of $30,000 or higher.
  • Personal Accident (Volunteer Worker) Insurance Cover provides volunteers with a financial compensation should they sustain personal injury from an accident whilst working in a volunteer capacity for your group.
  • Associations and Officials Liability Cover.
  • Property and Other Assets Related Insurance Cover

5. Contingencies

It is important to consider contingencies to assist organisers in the event that something should go wrong. These may include issues out of the event organisers control such as weather, participant numbers and emergency situations. Careful planning should be undertaken to mitigate unforeseen circumstances.

6. Disclaimer and Waivers

Disclaimers and waivers are a means to transfer the obligation or responsibility for an activity and relieve the associated risk. If waivers and disclaimers apply it is important to ensure their correct preparation (this may require professional assistance) and execution to ensure that the Event Organiser is covered.

Sample Disclaimers:

  • Disclaimer 1 - Considerable care has been taken in the production of this map. No responsibility can be accepted for any errors or omissions; however the publishers would welcome advice from users of any inaccuracies or desirable amendments.
  • Disclaimer 2 - Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this brochure and all details were correct at the time of publication. All information and facilities indicated on individual entries have been provided by those businesses. Prices and facilities shown are subject to change without notice.

7. Emergency Response Plan

The applicant must consider procedures to be implemented in the case of an emergency. An Emergency Response Plan outlines how the Event Organiser will respond to an emergency at the event. It should be developed in consultation with the Police, Fire Brigade and Ambulance and other relevant emergency services. The Emergency Response Plan should clearly identify one suitable person who is responsible for managing the emergency response at the event. That person’s contact details should be given to all those who may be involved in responding to an emergency.

The plans should include:

  • Permanent access for emergency vehicles.
  • Emergency services, inc Police, Fire, Ambulance and Rural Fire Services to be advised at least 48 hours prior.
  • People with disabilities who may have special needs in the case of an emergency.
  • Security staff to be familiar with emergency procedures.

8. Evacuation

The event must have an evacuation procedure as part of the risk assessment. For indoor events, the building being used may already have an evacuation procedure in place however this is far less likely for outdoor events.

9. Workplace Health and Safety

The Event Organiser has a duty of care to provide a safe environment in which staff, volunteers, performers and contractors can work. Depending on the nature of the event, the Event Organiser may have certain legal responsibilities in relation to work health and safety legislation. The provisions made for people working at your event will depend on its various components. Some of the issues you may need to consider include:

  • Handling of electricity, gas, and other hazardous materials.
  • Supplying ear protection for people working in noisy areas.
  • Operating equipment and machinery and whether licensed operators are required.
  • Supplying sunscreen and other personal protective equipment for people working at outdoor events.
  • Providing drinking water for people and volunteers working at events.
  • Providing adequate training to safely carry out assigned jobs at the event such as: handling money, moving heavy items, managing and directing traffic, crowd management.
  • Working at heights

10. First Aid

It is essential that the event has the provision of adequate facilities and qualified personnel to administer first aid. Advice as to the necessary facilities should be sought from qualified First Aid Practitioners. It is also a good idea to ascertain whether any key staff have their basic first aid training. Easy access by an ambulance in an emergency should be considered.

St John NSW first aid volunteers are professional medical officers and highly-trained first aiders dedicated to making our community a safer place. Teams of St John NSW first aiders are available to come along and run a First Aid post at your next event, are highly trained, professional, and carry advanced First Aid equipment such as First Aid Kits and products, defibrillators and oxygen units. St John NSW provides event health services for a nominal fee.

Go to St John NSW website to arrange a booking.

11. Incidents

It is advisable to have a system in place at the event to record any incidents or accidents that occur. Also, it is important that everyone working at the event has a clear understanding of how to record incidents and what to do with this record at the end of the event. The information you will want to capture in an incident report depends upon the nature of the event. Note that, as an Event Organiser, you are required under NSW Work Health and Safety Act to notify SafeWork NSW of any serious injuries or deaths that occur at the event.

For more information, go to https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/ or phone SafeWork NSW on T: 13 10 50.

If the event has any level of Council involvement the incident should also be advised to Council.

12. Fire Safety

The Event Organiser should agree on arrangements for fire prevention, detection and control and may require the assistance of the Fire Brigade or Rural Fire Service before your event. You may also be required to obtain a fire ban exemption from NSW Rural Fire Service, contact Southern Border Fire on T: 02 6051 1511.

13. Crowd Management

Crowd management may be required dependant on the capacity of the venue/area, where the event is held and the number of people expected. It is a vital consideration even with small events where the venue may have the potential to become over crowded. It may be that an event will only become crowded in particular areas, or at certain times, for example, in front of a stage, or if a VIP arrives in an area that can only hold a small number of people.

The Event Organiser should seek advice from the venue manager or landowner about the capacity of the venue or site. It is also important to clearly establish who holds the responsibility to count patrons, if applicable.

14. Children

All people (whether volunteers or employees) working in a child related role as defined under Part 2, Section 6 of the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 must complete a Working with Children Check so as to prevent unsuitable persons from working in positions where they have direct, unsupervised contact with children. More information can be obtained from the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian website - https://ocg.nsw.gov.au/.

In addition, for a large event, it is advisable to make arrangements for lost children. This could include setting up an area in the events administration or office area, where lost children can be housed and staffed with appropriately qualified employees or volunteers. Arrangements for children and carers who become separated should be clearly communicated to event patrons. All staff and volunteers working at the event should be aware of the procedures to be followed for lost children. 

15. Security

Security at a large public event is an increasingly important issue. Aspects relating to the venue, patronage and staff security must be considered in the early stages of your event planning process.

Advising Police of your event and inviting them to regularly patrol the event is highly recommended but it must be noted that these patrols will only occur if the policing resources are available at the time. For large events a fee may be charged for this patrol service. Discuss with Police well in advance possible risk reduction strategies and the number of security guards required.

You must ensure any special security measures are in place, for example, if you have VIPs at your event, or large amounts of cash. Factors to consider in determining security risks include:

  • Number of people.
  • Type of crowd and expected potential for anti-social behaviour.
  • Time of day.
  • Alcohol, non-alcohol events require less security. BYO events generally represent a higher risk of anti-social behaviour than licensed events.
  • Previous history of inappropriate behaviour. 

16. Lighting

If the event is held at night or in a dark venue, it is essential to ensure there is enough light to see walkways and exits in case of an evacuation.

Consideration should be given to the possibility of a blackout occurring at your event. It is advisable to have the services of a qualified electrician available on site or by phone in case problems arise with lighting equipment. Location and direction of existing and any additional lighting to be used, must be shown on the required site plan. Lighting must be directed away from nearby dwellings and should not be located in a position likely to cause a traffic hazard on adjoining roads.

At all times lighting must be adequate to enable the safe movement of people through the premises

17. Electricity, Gas and Hazardous Materials

If hazardous materials such as electricity, gas, chemicals and fireworks are used at the event it is vital that the Event Organiser seeks expert advice about their safe use and storage. Safety procedures should be communicated to all staff, volunteers, contractors and others who could come into contact with the materials.