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

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