Managing the Risks: An Observation of Crowd Management and Other Risks Associated With Outdoor Music Festivals in the UK

Managing the Risks: An Observation of Crowd Management and Other Risks Associated With Outdoor Music Festivals in the UK

Wendy C. Sealy (University of Chichester, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3230-0.ch004
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Since the 1980s employers in the UK have been subject to statutory responsibilities to ensure that all workplaces are safe. These responsibilities also extend to event managers staging one-off events. The Corporate Manslaughter Act of 1997 and the Health and Safety Act 1999 have invariably changed the way that events are planned, managed, and delivered. This chapter examines best practices for managing major health and safety issues at outdoor music festivals (OMFs) based on an extensive literature review and the author's practitioner experience of various music festivals nationwide. It will provide a practical and convenient reference guide for event managers who do not have time to attend other training or to do extensive research. The first section will discuss the legislative framework for outdoor events in the UK. Next, commentary is provided on the nature and characteristics of outdoor music festivals. Common risks associated with outdoor music festivals are discussed accompanied by actionable steps that event managers can employ to mitigate risks.
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All employers are subjected to the legal duty to conduct formal risks assessments. The Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) makes it a criminal offence for an employer who fails to make suitable arrangements to manage risks. The risk assessment is a critical component of event management for all outdoor festivals. OMFs are associated with increased health and safety risks due, but not limited, to the risk associated with mass crowd gatherings, particularly those including younger demographics. Typical risks include illness due to intoxication, disorder and rioting, crowd surges, stampede and assault. The risk at OMFs is exacerbated due to the influence of music, drugs and alcohol. A range of public health issues such as access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, and food borne diseases are also areas of concern (Earl, Parker and Capra, 2005). OMFs usually require extra security and medical services, which can increase the overall costs of hosting the event. Other types of risk posed by outdoor venues may include inadequate provisions for bad weather or lost or stolen valuables (Tangit, KIbat and Adanan, 2016).

While the above researchers agree that there are links between increased public health risks and outdoor music events, these risks can be minimized or eliminated through the proper implementation of risk assessments. The Purple Guide (HSE guide) publication in the UK offers several recommendations for ensuring good health and safety management at outdoor events, but it does not always give explicit guidance on best practices and tactics that could be implemented. Consequently, assessing risks could be intimidating for event mangers who have little experience in risk management. However, understanding and managing crowd behaviour, suppliers and traders is paramount to the safety and success of outdoor festivals (Reid and Ritchie, 2011). Improving the quality of planning, and event management is the best method to deal with risks involving large gatherings (Bladen, Kennel, Abson and Wilde, 2012). Assessing the health and safety risks of major outdoor music festivals forms a crucial plank within the wider framework of event management.

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