This CPD-certified workshop provided a refresher on all things event safety, led by the Sales Director & Co-Founder of Dependable Forces, Josh King. Josh shared his advice on how to approach the new health and safety imperative in 2021 and beyond to ensure delegates feel safe. Read on for Josh's top tips.
Make sure everyone is aligned
In these difficult times, health and safety can't be an afterthought. Event planners must put protocols and procedures in place that are achievable, pragmatic and flexible, and these must be considered and planned for well in advance of the event itself. Risk assessments must be compliant with the relevant rules and regulations, and understood by all parties involved.
To be effective, processes must be complied with onsite. Compliance often comes down to pre-event comms and meetings with stakeholders, the venue team, any major third parties, and of course the health and safety team who will be present on the day.
Josh recommends making event safety plans visual, engaging, and understandable, so that no matter who picks them up they will understand exactly what's in place and why.
It's also crucial to ensure there is no hierarchy when it comes to Covid. It's important that everyone adheres to the processes in place, even if you're the CEO.
Get a COVID Compliance Officer
Josh also recommends having a Covid Compliance Officer onsite to oversee the health and safety of the event. Their key focus is ensuring the event is Covid-compliant, and that the event safety plan is being followed to a tee.
For example, they'll make sure that there is adequate signage reminding people to wash their hands, that there is social distancing in heavily-congested areas, sanitiser stations are being refilled, door handles are regularly cleaned, everyone is wearing their masks correctly, the one-way system is being adhered to, etc. This individual is also able to provide First Aid support; if someone falls ill at your event, it must be dealt with in the right way.
This isn't a job that an event planner does on the side during the event, it's a job for a dedicated person who is competent and experienced, and who is solely responsible for managing the Covid safety of your event.
Do all you can to make your delegates feel comfortable
As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, there is a huge amount of ambiguity when it comes to how comfortable people feel doing certain things. One way to cater to different needs and comfort levels at an event is to provide different coloured lanyards which indicate whether they're comfortable hugging and shaking hands or whether they'd prefer no contact.
It's important to be empathetic and accommodating, because even the small changes we make as event planners can significantly enhance the attendee experience. Make sure to read the Hire Space Safer Events White Paper to see what other changes you can make to ensure your delegates feel comfortable.
Basic risk factors to be aware of
- Number of cases in the community. Make a calculated decision on whether the risk outweighs the benefits.
- Exposure during travel. Did attendees walk or get the tube?
- Setting and length of the event. How long will people be with each other for?
- Number of attendees. Find a larger venue than previously needed to allow for distancing.
- Behaviour of attendees during the event. Are people adhering to the rules? When alcohol is involved this becomes very difficult.
- Poor ventilation and hygiene. Ensuring the space is properly ventilated and there are enough sanitiser stations.
- Fire risk potential. Make sure alarms are working and that fire exits are well signposted, adequately lit and accessible for anyone with disabilities. A dedicated Fire Safety Officer will help check all of these things.
Six key measures to keep in mind
Josh gives six key measures all event planners should follow when thinking about health and safety at an event, and which should help mitigate the risk factors above:
- Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes risks from Covid-19. Once this is in place, conduct a site visit with all the key parties to ensure everyone is aligned on the safety protocols.
- Turn away anyone with Covid-19 symptoms. Take temperature on arrival, too. If someone falls ill at the event, make sure they're altruistic; that they report their symptoms to the NHS and remove themselves from the event.
- Provide adequate ventilation, particularly in heavily-congested areas. Keep windows and doors open (as long as it's not a fire hazard), and you could also use a CO2 detector to measure how much fresh air is in a room.
- Clean more often.
- Enable people to check in at your venue. Make sure you're asking people for their Covid Vaccination Passport or proof of negative test.
- Communicate and train everyone on your protocols. Make it as easy as possible for your attendees eg give them the link to order lateral flow tests, and then either provide testing onsite or direct them to the closest test centre.
Contract lingo 101
To finish, Josh breaks down some typical health and safety contract inclusions that can be difficult to understand.
- Force majeure. Acts, events, or circumstances beyond any human control. This includes things like natural disasters and outbreaks, and gives contracting parties total freedom to dictate what they want to happen in these situations. It's important for event planners to read through this in close detail.
- Summary of activities. This is a clause which should clearly lay out exactly what's happening at the event, which rooms are being used, what's included, and what's not included.
- Insurance clauses. This establishes what a party is responsible for regarding insurance. Read this clause over and over again!
- Indemnity agreement. This is a clause that protects one party (usually the venue) from any financial implications, liability and loss.
- Cancellations. Read these carefully. Make sure it's extremely specific and as flexible as possible.
About The Speaker
Josh King, Sales Director & Founder, Dependable Forces
Josh is an experienced marketer, creative and growth strategist who has worked with some of the world’s most innovative and influential brands over the last decade including LinkedIn, Google and HubSpot. Last year, Josh cofounded Dependable Forces, a health and safety business who specialise in COVID Compliance and Rapid Testing. The Dependable Forces team work with some amazing brands including Amazon Prime, Amazon Music and Rapid7 and are committed to helping rebuild the events industry.
If you'd like more advice regarding event safety, you can get in touch with Josh by contacting Dependable Forces or by connecting with him on Linkedin here. You can also read Hire Space's Safer Events White Paper and check out our Safer Events Accreditation.
If you liked this piece, why not check out Mike Kershaw's workshop on leading a team through difficult times, and make sure to check out the rest of the EventLAB 2021 content over on our blog.
Izzie brings a deep understanding of the events world to Hire Space, and keeps busy by writing lots of Hire Space and EventLAB content and managing the Hire Space social media presence.