Friday, 25 May 2012

Individualising your risk management plan

How do you find out what are the risks in planning and running an event? Well the worst thing to do is to ask only yourself - if you knew all the risks, you would already have them under control. A key component to a successful event is research, with it you can ascertain all sorts of useful information such as:

·        Has the event been run before? If so, what problems arose last time?
·        If it has not been run before, who has run one similar?
·        Can you phone them, email them or research it on the Net to find out what the risks were?
·        Are there any checklists on the Net that would assist you with this event?

These are the 5 factors any event organiser must take into account while planning an event:
  • Perils : These are natural causes of disaster – i.e. storms, floods, high winds, hail etc. These are sometimes predictable and preventable. Consult the weather bureau for probable trends
  • Hazards: These are predictable and preventable – i.e. loose cables, open manholes etc
  • Vulnerabilities:  - When the nature of the event opens up the organisers to risk through the nature of the event i.e. mass protest at economic summits or strikes during typical periods
  • Threats: - These refer to bombs, specific strikes or other threats against the event – these should be predictable and preventable.
The PESTLE system is also a good way to establish potential risks before they arise:
  • Political:  -  Does the event have national or local political impact? Could there be clashes between supporters?
  • Economic:  - Is this a good time to run such an event? Do supporters have the money to attend? What else could clash?
  • Social:  - Does the event affect any particular social group?
  • Technological: - Does the event rely heavily on technology? Is there guarantee of continual supply of power?
  • Legal: - Have all national, provincial and local laws been identified and obeyed?
  • Environmental: - What is the impact of the event on the environment? Have adequate plans for waste disposal, water usage and toilets been considered?
All events carry unique risks including large crowds, complex event activities, and an almost certain need for improvisation and last minute decisions which must be assessed in relation to your particular event. However improvisation and last minute decisions are what makes the job of an event organiser interesting and you will learn to take them in your stride.

We will discuss Risk analysis in our next piece, so stay tuned. Send enquries or questions to

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Risk management for event organisers - Part 2

What is risk management?

Risk management is about predictions and prevention and is the measure of the probability and consequence of not achieving a defined event goal. It is a logical and systematic method to reduce the risks associated with any activity, function or process in an event.

Risk management minimises loss and maximises opportunity – it should be remembered that loss does not only include loss of life or injury but also loss of property and reputation.

Duty of Care
All existing and proposed South African laws concerning the events industry revolve around the one Common Law principle of ‘Duty of Care’. Organisers are required to show that they exercised Duty of Care to participants’ lives, health and property

In the case of loss, Courts essentially ask two questions:
                 Was incident predictable
                 Could it have been prevented

The Judge then applies the ‘Reasonable Man’s’ test and if the answer is ‘yes’ to the questions, then liability has occurred and the law takes the view that the event organiser is the one who is liable, as he or she has been paid by a client for a professional service. If the answer is ‘no’, then risk management has been successfully applied.

Risk Management Models
The old model of pressure was for everyone to push responsibility to the event organiser and the event organiser to take out insurance. The problem with this was that it assumed that all risks could be insured; had no understanding of wrongdoing; and worked on the hope of the ignorance of the public who would not claim against the organisers.

The new model works on consultation with all stakeholders and a Risk Management plan that uses insurance as only one of the options to provide risk cover.

Event management includes risk management
Finding the risks and controlling them is essential in getting together a safe and successful event. With the complexity of modern events, the current legal system and the requirements of the event’s stakeholders, the event manager has to undertake risk management systematically and make sure that there is documentary proof of every step.

As an event manager, you have already created a process for running events; now all you have to do is transfer that process to risk management. Though there is a multi-risk focus, it is only a single process.

Risk management must be considered before the selection of suppliers, staff and communication, as the risk profile of the event will dictate these choices. Therefore, risk management results differ for each event.

5 basic questions
Evaluation begins with answering the five basic question of events management from a perspective of risk.

                 Who is coming? Crowds vary in nature and a small gathering should be safer than a large one, but look at the delegates’ profile in context. In the same stadium, football crowds could be more unruly than concert goers

                 What is the event? Corporate dinners carry far less risk than a cup final. Cocktail parties carry less risk than 3-day exhibitions

                 When is the event? Does the time of day add traffic stress to the equation? Is this an outdoor marquee in August (high wind factors)? Will storm conditions alter the event’s success? If it is very cold, do heating arrangements add a fire risk?

                 Where is the event being held – the venue can add risk if it is not geared for high crowds, massive surges, traffics problems, crime prevention etc. Perhaps the venue is remote – are there toilet facilities, drinkable water, can trucks access the site for setup, is there power or does it have to be provided?

                 Why is the event being held? This relates to risk management around the client’s requirements and expectations and in turn his or her client’s expectations. This can include profit from an event, favourable media comment, ticket sales, happy delegates.
Now you have the how, the next step is more in-depth risk assessment in Part 3.

If you have any questions, email