Event Health & Safety in 2023

Where we’ve been

For a lot of event businesses there has been an unprecedented period of uncertainty, shift in working patterns and a degree of upheaval over the last few years.  For many, the years of 2020 and 2021 were simply in ‘survival mode’ – getting through COVID and staying in business whilst the events and related industries around them fell to nothing.  2021 proved to be a very busy year for many in the event management industry – with major political events such as COP26 and the G7 summit in Cornwall, followed by a return to some level of normality in 2022 with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the return of major events (such as the Edinburgh Festival and the Notting Hill Carnival), the World Cup in Qatar and of course the funeral for The Queen in September.

What’s coming up?

2023 seems to be just as busy with the Coronation of Charles III and Camilla in London and the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, both scheduled for May, the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and the Rugby World Cup in France.

The state of the industry

There are continued pressures on the events industry – which are having an impact on safety issues – some of the more notable include:

  • Fuel costs – event venues and temporary event sites are particularly susceptible to the continuing high fuel prices.  Permanent event venues such as the NEC in Birmingham and London’s ExCeL will be under pressure to heat or cool vast spaces for the benefit of those working or visiting the spaces.  The impact on event health and safety and the health and wellbeing of staff and visitors should be considered where cost of fuel may disincentivise organisers to switch on cooling or heating equipment early, with a view to saving cost
  • Staff availability – the industry saw a great shift during the pandemic with many people leaving the industry or changing job roles – this lack of staff with sufficient skills, experience and training is still being felt with a great number of job openings available and employers struggling to recruit.  Consideration should be given by employers, managers and business owners to increasing the skills of their team members – particularly in relation to the event health and safety training and understanding.
  • Equipment availability – another impact of COVID was the reduction in availability of equipment – either through businesses not surviving, consolidation or the tightening of inventory by rental houses and event industry suppliers.  Nervousness over excess kit ‘sitting on the shelf’ has led many to reduce their capacity leading to price increases or in some cases events being cancelled due to non-availability of equipment – event organisers and suppliers alike should ensure that the equipment they do use has been safety tested for use before it leaves the warehouse.
  • Inflation and cost of living – pressures on the UK and World economy mean that discretionary spending may decrease having a negative impact on the events which take place and the numbers of tickets which are sold.

Health & Safety in 2023

The impacts of COVID are now (hopefully) largely behind us but the industry remains alert and wary of another outbreak which could cause events to be cancelled and lockdowns to be brought back.  Pressures on staffing, equipment and costs to events will continue to be an issue which will affect event agencies, suppliers and promoters alike.

A major impact on event venues is the expected introduction of the ‘Protect Duty‘ by the government sometime in 2023 – this will require public and events venues to undertake assessment and put in place measures (dependent on the size of the venue and the activity taking place) to protect users from acts of terrorism.  This is known colloquially as ‘Martyn’s Law’.