How to write an effective safety plan

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Overview

There are many different approaches to writing a safety plan for an event. Unfortunately there is no ‘one template’ fits all solution due to the wide variety of different types of events, venues and hazards that we all have to deal with. Each safety plan needs to tailored to the event to ensure that it’s identified all the potential hazards and has applied the appropriate control measures

Fundamental to a good safety plan is that it is an effective tool for communicating to everyone involved what could go wrong and what measures need to be taken to avoid incidents happening. A key factor to this is the amount of information that is included within the plan and how it is organised.

Keep it clear and concise

We have seen some safety plans arrive onsite in huge binders almost 4” thick, they get dumped onto the production office desk with a triumphal thump – the assumption being that something that big and heavy must have covered every eventuality. However from a practical point of view it’s practically useless because no one ever has time to read it, and if someone needs to know something quickly they have to dig through a mountain of paper before they find the detail they need.

An effective safety plan needs to be concise and easy to read with a simple and easily navigable structure that makes finding information easy. The pertinent and important information should be summarised within the main body of the plan and if more detail is required, include it in an appendix. This means that your safety team, your client and contractors can all get the important information they need and vital details are buried within pages and pages of spurious detail.

 

A safety plan needs to be adequate and proportional for the event which means that a safety plan for a small conference in a hotel venue will be significantly smaller than a safety plan for a 10,000 person festival.

 

Keep it Dynamic

An effective safety plan is one that is constantly updated as a project develops. For large scale projects where you are onsite for long periods of time you should update the safety plan if any new hazards are identified or additional controls implemented. In a similar manner, if your contractors have to adjust their build method or bring additional equipment onsite then you need to update your plan with their updated method statements and any additional risk assessments that are required.

Who should write the safety plan?

We believe that as part of building a positive safety culture, safety planning should be a team activity whenever possible. Having members of your team contribute to your safety plan sections or contribute risk assessments for the areas they are responsible for is a key way of giving them ownership over the safety management of their activities. It’s also a great way of ensuring that the team are aware of what is in the safety documents by getting them to be a part of creating the documents.

The safety planning process should be checked and coordinated by a person with the adequate skills, knowledge and experience to recognise risks and apply the appropriate control measures. For more information on determining competency read our support pages. If untrained members of your team have contributed to the safety plan then ensure that a competent person reviews their work to ensure it’s sufficient for the job.

What should the plan cover?

You need to be clear about what phases of your event the safety plan is covering. An event project can usually be broken down into three main phases, the construction, the event open or live phase and the dismantle.

The risks on an event site will be very different in the construction phase when you might have lots of contractors working to rig equipment using heavy machinery compared to the live phase when your main responsibility will be managing the public. Therefore in order to keep their documents concise and relevant to the interested parties many people produce separate safety plans for the construction and the event live phases. For more information read out support pages about CDM Construction Phase Plans and Event Management Plans.

Distribution

We suggest distributing your safety plan to your team electronically and also having it accessible on a laptop or tablet onsite to allow you to quickly search through the documents. It’s a good idea to have a printed backup in the event of a power cut or similar situation but the search feature on a PDF reader can save you a lot of time when looking up information

Who else needs to be involved?

Consider who else might need to be involved in your safety planning process. For large scale public events you may need to involve the police and local councils in your planning process. Your venue may also want to contribute information about emergency evacuations, access routes and information about their own site rules.

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