Health and Safety Expertise is Vital for Event Professionals

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

I’ve touched on risk management before, but never to the degree that I should have. I’d like to remedy that with today’s piece. We’re discussing precisely why it’s vital that you as an event planner are well versed in both health and safety regulations and procedures. Although you are often outsourcing many services, keeping your event safe is ultimately your responsibility.

We’ll start with the obvious. As the one running the show, you need to keep an eye out for any potential safety hazards, health code violations or threats to your guests. The companies hiring you are relying on your expertise and the forethought to ask the right questions of your venue, service providers and host City. Failures to recognize even one of these threats could be catastrophic, both for you and for whatever brands you’re representing, not to mention the accident victims.

Also remember, failure to comply with the laws established by Occupational Health and Safety Boards could result in your event being shut down prematurely – and yourself being saddled with a whole host of hefty (and easily avoidable) fees – and bad press.

Jason Cardy of Capita Travel and Events – who earlier this month achieved the UK National General Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health (event managers might consider their own country’s equivalent) – put it more succinctly than I:

“Organizations need to comply with the law and to make sure employees, customers and delegates are not exposed to unnecessary hazards before, during and after their events,” he explained. “Health and safety does not have to be complicated, but the detail in the planning should be balanced with the scale of the event and the risk involved.  For large-scale, creative events, including anything from multiple contractors and audio-visual equipment to building temporary structures and technical staging; extensive planning is required to organize, manage and monitor the event to limit risks.”

Speaking of your events staff…they’re your responsibility too, surely as if they were guests at your event. Your responsibilities are to keep them safe and to ensure they’re well equipped to help keep events safe.  Staff should also be made aware of risks and procedures for mitigating risk. If you’re firm’s specialty is large-scale events, you shouldn’t be the only one on your team with some form of health and safety training: you should make sure your event staff is certified as well. This will allow them to minimize risks by helping them recognize issues and threats before they arise.

The argument in favor of seeking certification for your team goes beyond preventative health and safety. In a world where a business can be sued for serving hot coffee, clients are understandably nervous about the legal risks involved in running an event. Many of them are keenly aware that if even one thing goes wrong, if there’s even the smallest chance of negligence, they could be sued.

Seeing that your entire events team is certified will help to put potential clients’ minds at ease, and make them likelier to hire your firm. Understandable, you may not have the ability to do this or may work on a smaller scale; know the questions your outside contractors must be able to answer, know the certificates they must be able to produce, know the licenses and insurance they must have. You’re still responsible.

As an event planner, keeping an event safe is ultimately your responsibility. That goes beyond simply hiring security staff; learning to recognize safety violations before they become a problem incredibly important. A certification program will equip you with the skill-set necessary to do so, all while making you a significantly more attractive prospect to potential clients.