How to safely organise a school event

From school proms to Christmas fairs, events can create lifelong memories for pupils and parents alike, support fundraising efforts and bring together local communities.

But, as you will know, they can be a real headache to organise and manage from a Health & Safety perspective. Here are some things that you should be considering:

Issuing a pre-event brief

You want to give stall holders and activity providers some free reign to be creative, but a pre-event brief can help you set out some important ground rules.

It can allow you to:

  • State the requirement of the evidence of risk assessments and insurance;
  • Stress the need for activities to fall within relevant guidance;
  • Emphasise that equipment must be fit for purpose and that products must be safe;
  • Outline your traffic management plan, e.g. any restrictions on vehicle movement during the event;
  • Make clear individuals’ Health & Safety responsibilities, e.g. general housekeeping rules to prevent slips, trips and falls.

Crowd control measures

Given that people are likely to enter and exit events at similar times, there is an increased risk of slips, trips and falls, and, worst case scenario, there could be panic and crushing too.

Control measures you might consider implementing include:

  • Using event employees or volunteers to control the movement of people;
  • Using tickets to regulate the number of people allowed to access the event;
  • Covering all cables with brightly marked suitable cable guards;
  • Clearly identifying pegs, ropes for tents and marquees;
  • Monitoring and cleaning up waste throughout the event;
  • Carrying out a site inspection before and during the event.

Emergency service access

In the event of an emergency where you have not given prior consideration to vehicle access, confusion can set in and delay the arrival of the emergency services.

You should have a clear procedure in place for how and where emergency services can access the event site, including entry points for vehicles and suitable route around the site.

Note that fire services should be notified in advance of any organised bonfire displays.

Inflatable equipment

Bouncy castles are family favourites that always go down well with children. But, if inflatable equipment will be at your school’s event, have you, or those involved:

  • Checked that there is adequate first aid provision in the event of minor bumps, falls and collisions?
  • Carried out a manual handling assessment?
  • Inspected electrical equipment before use and throughout?
  • Ensured that a manufacturer’s handbook of use is available and adhered to it during the inflatable’s set up, use and dismantling?
  • Carried out a pre-use inspection checklist?
  • Ensured that sufficient anchor points are installed securely?

Fire risk assessments

Regardless of whether your event is a bonfire, school disco or Christmas nativity production, a fire risk assessment needs to be carried out by a competent person – that is someone with the right skills and experience in terms of Health & Safety compliance.

Your fire risk assessment should identify both fire hazards (e.g. generators or tents and marquees) and control measures (e.g. detection and warning or firefighting and escape routes).

Fire exit signs need to be displayed near to safe exits, and if the event is in an open space, you need to consider how this will be signed.

For bonfires, ideally, these should be built as close to the event as possible to avoid any individuals planting unwanted items in the wood, e.g. combustible materials which may dangerously change the dynamic of the fire itself. With this in mind, you should regularly inspect wood mounds in the time leading up to the event.

Further questions to consider

  • Event performers – have you seen evidence of relevant insurance, licenses and certification?
  • Portable electrical equipment – have you checked that PAT Testing has been carried out?
  • Contamination of foodstuff – have you ensured all event organisers are aware of correct food handling processes and food hygiene competence?
  • Falls from height – have you ensured that contractors, employees and volunteers have carried out working at height risk assessments?
  • Animals – if applicable, have you considered how animal waste will be cleaned up and controlled, or if handwashing facilities will be available after animal handling?

Citation can help

When it comes to events, there really is a lot to consider, but the good news is that Citation can help.

They are passionate about education and know the sector inside out, which is why they are partnered with us, and they have supported education leaders to keep their school, employees, pupils, and visitors safe for more than 20 years.

As a Citation client, you can get access to:

  • 24/7 access to Health & Safety experts through their advice line;
  • Access to more than 100 school-specific risk assessment templates;
  • Proactive updates on legislative changes, along with documentation alignment where relevant;
  • Guaranteed advice;
  • Provision of bespoke, prioritised action points for you to work through;
  • Annual visits from a dedicated consultant to ensure ongoing compliance.

If you have questions on anything covered in this article, please contact Citation’s expert team on 0345 844 1111 or by emailing epm@citation.co.uk.

Read more about how Citation can support your school with Health & Safety.

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