How to tackle Risk Management for events? Plus, download a FREE Risk Assessment Check-list!

How to tackle Risk Management for events? Plus, download a FREE Risk Assessment Check-list!

Remember the good ‘ol days when risk management was simply putting a hi-vis vest on? When painting a multi-story building without a harness was perfectly fine? When a simple “she’ll be ‘right, mate!” was the only reassurance you needed?

I think we all know that those days are long gone.

These days, risk management is inevitable and absolutely critical! Regardless of the field you work in.

When it comes to events, it’s a major contributing factor to the success of your event. Therefore, the more planning goes into it, the better the outcome.

Risk management for events can be overwhelming though. Where do you start? What does the risk assessment process look like? What should be included in your risk management plan?

Well, let’s start with the basics…

What is Risk Management?

What is risk management? How to minimise your risks for events

Risk management is the process of identifying, analysing and minimising risks.

The in-depth answer to ‘What is Risk Management?’ will vary slightly between industries.

For events, risk management is all about minimising risk to event attendees, event staff, and the event venue. Generally, the operational risks at events are high. Especially at outdoor events such as festivals, fun runs, and other sporting events as they attract mass crowds.

Therefore, the first step to managing risks at events, is creating a thorough Risk Management Plan. A risk management plan provides in-depth information about:

  • What the risks are
  • How they can be minimised or eliminated
  • What the likelihood is of the risk occurring
  • The severity of the consequences if the risk was to occur

Many stakeholders will require to see a risk management plan before an event can proceed. Therefore, this document needs to be sound.

The Risk Assessment Process

Essentially, there are 5 steps in the risk assessment process.

Step 1. Identify the hazard – what could happen?
Step 2. Determine the risk – who could get hurt or what could get damaged and how?
Step 3. Determine risk controls – how will you minimise the risk?
Step 4. Implement risk controls – how will you implement them and who is responsible to do so?
Step 5. Review the risk assessment – were the risk controls successful?

No doubt, there are many ways to document the risk assessment process. Especially between industries. In the world of events we generally use a Risk Treatment Plan to document the risk assessment process. See a screenshot of a section of a Risk Treatment Plan below.

Risk Assessment Process - Risk Treatment Plan

Generally, a Risk Treatment Plan will list about 15-20 hazards in total. The final number depends on the complexity of the event site.

But let’s dive a little deeper into the 5 risk assessment steps.

Step 1. Identify the Hazard

Firstly, to identify hazards you’ll need to understand the difference between a hazard and a risk.

A hazard is defined as: ‘something with the potential to cause harm’.

A risk is defined as: ‘the possibility that harm (death, injury or illness) or damage might occur when exposed to a hazard’.

Secondly, you’ll need to identify the hazards. Identification of hazards for events is generally done during site visits. Or site famils as they can also be referred to.

At our company, 3vent Productions, we use an event and risk management check-list for this purpose. Download a FREE copy of the event and risk management check-list

risk management for events

In addition to the check-list, identifying hazards also comes with experience. Many outdoor events present very similar hazards. Hence, the more experience you have, the easier it is to identify the hazards.

Our Risk Management Plan template lists all the common event hazards. This comes in very handy, especially if you’re not that experienced in writing RMP’s!

Step 2. Determine the risk (and the risk rating)

The next step is to determine the risk associated with each hazard. Basically, you would need to answer the following questions. Who could get hurt? What could be the harm? What damage could be done?

In addition, I always assign a risk rating to the risk as it stands, without risk controls applied. See the above screenshot of a section of the risk treatment plan example.

To work out your risk rating you need a risk assessment matrix. And no, it has nothing to do with Keanu Reeves 😉

A risk assessment matrix determines the level of risk by weighing up the likelihood of a risk against the consequence of a risk. See a Risk Matrix example below.

Risk Matrix example - risk assessment for events

Step 3. Determine risk controls

This is the most important part of your risk assessment process. Without adequate risk controls you will not be able to minimise the risk.

The question to answer here is: What measures will be put in place to prevent, or minimise, the risk?

In an ideal world, hazards would be removed completely. However, in most cases you’re only able to control the risks so that injury or damage is unlikely.

Step 4. Implement risk controls

How will you implement the risk controls? In which phase of the event process will this be done? During the pre-planning stage, whilst bumping-in/out (setting up/packing down) or throughout the live event?

In addition, assigning responsibility for the implementation of risk controls is also an important factor.

Step 5. Review the Risk Assessment

Review is always the key to improvement. After completion of your event, you should always go over your risk treatment plan. Were the risk controls successful? Was their implementation practical?

Occasionally, certain risk controls might look logical on paper. But when it comes to event delivery, they could turn out to be quite impractical.

Adjusting your risk management plan accordingly will result in better future events.

The key to a solid Risk Management Plan

Intense regulations, massive lawsuits, and huge compensation payouts have shaped the way the world looks at WHS.

These days, the danger of inadequate risk management is simply too high to ignore.

Events are considered a high-risk industry. Therefore, a solid risk management plan for events is an absolute must.

The key to a sound risk management plan is having a good risk assessment template. A proper risk assessment template should be detailed. It should describe:

  1. Risk Management Personnel
  2. The Process of Risk Identification
  3. Hierarchy of Control
  4. Levels of Risk Likelihood
  5. Levels of Risk Consequences
  6. Risk Rating Matrix
  7. Actions required for each Risk Rating
  8. A detailed Risk Treatment Plan

If you want to save time creating a Risk Management Plan from scratch, check out our template. It includes all of the above and requires little editing. In addition, the risk treatment plan includes most of the common event hazards and their risks.

risk management for events