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Festivals Toolkit: Health & Safety: Event Safety

Training for Staff - Consider training staff (both volunteers and paid) prior to the festival and brief them fully at the beginning of event.  Training areas could include:
  • First Aid
  • Health and Safety
  • Fire safety
  • Deployment and Duties
  • Radio Work
  • Lost Children
  • Venue stewarding
  • Anti Violence
  • Working with security
  • Reports and reporting
  • Legal powers and responsibilities
  • Emergency situation management

Medical Facilities

The First Aid provision needs to be suitable for the number of people expected to attend and for the type of event. Plan the provision of medical ambulance and first aid services in consultation with the statutory services and appoint a competent organisation to provide medical management. St John Ambulance and the Red Cross have set guidelines for provision based on your estimated attendance and will charge for attending.

The following gives a guide to the minimum provisions:

Guide to the minimum first aid provision for event safety.
Number of people attendingNumber of first aidersNumber of first aid postsNumber of ambulances
Up to 50021-
Up to 3,000611
Up to 5,000811
Up to 10,0001322

The first aid post should be clearly signposted and provided with easy access for spectators and an ambulance at all times. Where an ambulance is required, a parking area should be provided close to the first aid post with a clear exit from the site.

Make sure that all persons assisting at the event know where the first aid post is and, where appropriate, the identity of the first-aider. Locate the nearest telephone box, provide access to a telephone, or provide mobile phones.

Previous experience suggests that approximately 1-2 per cent of an audience will seek medical assistance during an event. Of these, around 10 per cent will need further treatment on site, and approximately 1 per cent of the number requiring initial medical assistance will require subsequent referral to hospital. Ineffective welfare facilities, poor weather conditions, absence of free drinking water or other hazards may increase this percentage.

Consider the following points when planning for this aspect of the event:

  • Named manager
  • Specific and exclusive routes for emergency vehicles
  • Maintaining cover
  • Helicopters
  • Communications
  • Documentation
  • Medical, ambulance and first aid provision
  • First aid points
  • Clinical waste
  • Liaison with Welfare Services

First Aiders, ambulance and medical workers should:

  • Be at least 16
  • Have no other duties or responsibilities
  • Have identification
  • Have protective clothing
  • Have relevant experience or knowledge.
  • Be physically and psychologically equipped to carry out their assigned role

Sound: noise and vibration

High sound levels present a risk to hearing, both for those working at an event and for the audience, and may cause a nuisance to individuals living in or working at neighbouring properties. High levels of vibration may also affect the integrity of temporary and permanent structures both on and off the site.

In planning your event, you should keep in mind the impact of sound and vibrations on workers, audience and neighbouring properties. Consider the following points:

  • Noise assessments
  • Controlling sound and vibration levels
  • Monitoring sound and vibration levels throughout the event
  • Time when sound will have impact including sound checks
  • Effects of noise on workers at the event

Health & Safety Executive Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 publication 

Fire Safety

Fire safety is covered by a variety of legislation, notably the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and Factories Act 1961. When a licence is issued, additional conditions may be imposed concerning fire safety. Advice should be sought from your local fire brigade as early as possible so you can make sure you meet the required standards and have done the necessary checks.

People should be able to walk to safety along a clearly recognisable route by their own unaided efforts, regardless of where a fire may break out at the venue. Carefully consider arrangements for people with disabilities.

People will often try to leave the site the way they entered. Where this is not possible because of the position of the fire or smoke, stewards should be trained to route people away from the fire to a place of safety. Ensure that:

  • The number and size of exits in fences are sufficient for the number of people present and are distributed around the perimeter;
  • Exits and gateways are unlocked and staffed by stewards throughout the event; and
  • All exits and gateways are clearly indicated by suitable signs, illuminated where necessary.

Consideration should be given to the following aspects when planning for fire safety for an outdoor entertainment:

  • Marquees and large tents
  • Stairways
  • Ramps
  • Exits
  • Doors on escape routes
  • Fastenings on doors and gates
  • Self-closing devices for doors
  • Exit and directional signs
  • Normal and Emergency lighting
  • Fire-fighting equipment
  • Special risks
  • Means of giving warning in case of fire

Sanitary Facilities

Ensure that adequate sanitary provision is made for the capacity of the event, in accordance with the recommended guidelines.

For events with a gate opening time of 6 hours or more:

Female - 1 toilet per 100
Male - 1 toilet per 500 + 1 urinal per 150

For events with a gate opening time of less than 6 hours duration:

Female - 1 toilet per 120
Male - 1 toilet per 600 + 1 urinal per 175  
Disabled - 1 toilet with hand washing facilities per 75 disabled people.

Consider the following aspects in making the appropriate provisions:

  • Maintenance
  • Location
  • Type
  • Washing facilities
  • Provision for people with special needs
  • Disposal of sanitary towels and nappies
  • Sewage disposal
  • Lighting
  • Waste management

Waste Management

Both concessions and audience generate large quantities of waste material during an event. You should carefully consider how the waste can be managed to minimise the risks associated with accumulation, collection and final disposal.

The following points may be of assistance:

  • Types of waste
  • Hazards posed by waste
  • Areas where waste is generated
  • Information to be exchanged with waste contractor
  • Methods of collection
  • Methods of removal
  • Health safety and welfare of employees and event workers
  • Recycling

Guidance notes from Canterbury City Council Event Safety Toolkit

Parking Facilities

If you are running an outdoor festival and expecting a large number of people, then consider the following:

  • the capacity of parking areas
  • the suitability of parking sites - bad weather can create extra difficulties
  • trained stewards to direct traffic to correct parking areas
  • managing departures as well as arrival - availability of stewards
  • advance information on parking and directions in literature/on website
  • management visitors once they have parked their cars - good signage
  • communications system for stewards
  • organising a 'practice run' with stewards
  • check signage is correct and directs people to the right areas
  • capacity of parking area
  • who does what
  • correct areas to park

Visit Timeline for Events for further information on Transport Control.


If food is available, all delivery, storage, preparation and sales of it, must comply with relevant legislation. Environmental health officers from your local council should be consulted at the earliest opportunity.


Ensure that your festival is fully inclusive.

Some of this information has been adapted from Canterbury City Council Event Safety Toolkit

East Midlands Ambulance Service

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