Here at HiViz Safety HQ we have had our usual busy week of work, offering our consultancy services and spreading the word about our Health & Safety software. But the week was followed by an equally busy weekend, setting up for and attending a local event where we took on Health & Safety responsibilities for the day.
‘The Festival of the Plough’ was conceived by a small group of people with a love for shire horses and days gone by, when farming and agriculture were not so frenetic and intense. This was coupled with the idea that as well as allowing people the opportunity to see shire horses and old tractors actually ploughing, it could be a good way of raising money for charity. It is very fitting that an event such as this takes place in the fields around Epworth, North Lincolnshire which is in the centre of the Isle of Axholme, where since the drainage of the area by the Dutch in 1627-29 it has become one of the most intensely farmed and highly productive agricultural areas in the country.
So when it comes to taking on the responsibility of Heath & Safety for such an event, we had to consider several factors, one of which included planning for incidents and emergencies. We had to have plans in place to respond effectively to Health and Safety incidents and other emergencies that might occur at the event.
Our emergency plan had to be in proportion to the level of risk presented by event activities and the potential extent and severity of the incident by using these 9 key points:
1.Consider the risks
Develop emergency procedures to be followed by staff and volunteers in a significant incident/emergency, eg sudden bad weather, a fire or structural failure, even an entertainment act cancelling at short notice.
2. Share your plans
If appropriate, draw up and discuss your plans with:
- the police
- fire and rescue service
- ambulance service
- emergency planning
The detail and complexity of any discussions should be proportionate to the risks involved.
3. Develop an emergency plan
Most event emergency plans should address the same basic requirements, to:
- get people away from immediate danger
- summon and assist emergency services
- handle casualties
- deal with those who have been displaced but not injured
- liaise with the emergency services and other authorities and, where the situation is serious, hand over responsibility for the incident/emergency
- protect property
4. Emergency procedures
Procedures for staff and volunteers to follow in an emergency should include:
- raising the alarm and informing the public
- onsite emergency response, ie use of fire extinguishers
- summoning the emergency services and continuing to liaise with them
- crowd management, including evacuation, where necessary
- evacuation of people with disabilities
- traffic management, including emergency vehicles
- incident control
- providing first aid and medical assistance
5. First aid, medical assistance and ambulances
As well as workers, HSE strongly recommends that you include the visiting public in your first-aid, medical and ambulance needs assessment. Make sure you will have enough medical assistance and ambulances onsite and liaise with your local NHS and ambulance service so they can balance your needs against their local capacity.
Except for small, low-risk events where ambulances may not be required, and at events where they are not onsite, plans should be drawn up in conjunction with the local NHS ambulance service to clarify how patients will be taken to hospital.
6. Have clear emergency roles and responsibilities
You should appoint people to implement your procedures if there is an incident or emergency.
Emergencies can develop very rapidly. Make sure you are equipped to move the audience to a total or relative place of safety without delay.
8. After the incident
Once the risk has been reduced to a tolerable level, you can consider restarting the performance/event.
Only restart the performance after consultation with other key agencies on site, eg emergency services. Make sure staff are back in position and services are ready.
9. Testing and validation
In many cases, validation of your emergency plan may take the form of a table-top exercise, where you and others work through a range of scenarios and establish the effectiveness of your responses.
If you are organising an event you need to plan, manage and monitor the event to make sure that workers and the visiting public are not exposed to health and safety risks. You can do this using the HiViz Safety Online System or alternatively leave it to our consultants!