Risk of the trade? Five top tips for safe events

The event branch is a sector with clear workplace risks. In terms of safety and security, there's a great deal more going on in an exhibition and conference venue than an accountant’s office. Ensuring maximum safety for everyone is therefore a daily task and I am pleased to share some golden tips with you.

An industrial accident analysis by the RAI showed that the majority of incidents occur during the setup and breakdown of events. At these times, complex constructions are being created in a short period by different parties using heavy equipment, all of whom have their own tight planning schedule. Fortunately, as a location we can work closely together with event organisers and other partners to prevent accidents occurring. These safety measures can be summarised under five pillars:

  • Tip 1: Safety rules
    Our work doesn't always make us popular. The introduction in 2011 of the RAI Safe Working Practices Manual led to quite a few annoyed reactions. Suppliers, contractors, organisers and co-workers were used to being able to simply walk into the complex during setup and breakdown. Important safety rules were introduced before, during and after every event in the RAI with regards to issues such as protective clothing, the safe use of equipment and maximum speeds. Five years on, everyone is used to these regulations and finds them entirely normal. What's more, other locations have since decided to follow the same guidelines. But rules and regulations in themselves are not sufficient.
  • Tip 2: Familiarity with the rules

    During the scores of different events that take place annually in the RAI we welcome thousands of personnel from hundreds of different countries onto the work floor. Safe working is an issue that concerns everybody. When new parties are involved we always take the time to go through the safe working practices. We also hang up banners and post instructions at strategic spots. Safety rules are also a regular point on the agenda during meetings with suppliers. Most importantly of all, perhaps, is the fact that all our staff are specially trained in the area of safety. They are our ambassadors when it comes to safe working and never hesitate to address people on the matter should the need arise.

  • Tip 3: Risk assessment in advance

    As prevention is better than cure, the RAI carries out a dedicated risk assessment in advance of every event. We check the construction drawings and make sure the event floor plans are accurate. Logistical planning is also assessed and we share the results with our suppliers. All this and more is designed to ensure no unpleasant surprises occur and that any incidents can be swiftly responded to.

  • Tip 4: Enforcement
    Checks remain essential however good the preparations are, which is why we deploy surveillance staff. Most of the time they can ensure a safe environment by passing on a few friendly tips but sometimes it's also important to be strict. On one occasion last year we even had to insist on a stand being closed because the stand builder has erected an unsafe construction which we felt could collapse. They had actually used staples instead of bolts! We offered the exhibitor a different and much safer stand for its use at the event.
  • Tip 5: Registration and evaluation
    After solving any unsafe situation we always make sure that they are registered. This allows us to continuously adjust the safety policy where needed. The analysis shows that the vast majority of incidents only involve minor wounds. We can even have a laugh at the number one on the list: blisters caused by stand holders that have bought brand-new gloves especially for the exhibition.

Film and handbook
Would you like to know more about how you can enhance safety at your event?
RAI Safe Working Practices Manual »

In our next blog we will address the issue of hospitality and safety, including some more useful tips for you and your organisation.

You are welcome to contact me with any more questions or advice.

Rik Hoogendoorn

Rik Hoogendoorn

Rik Hoogendoorn | Manager Safety & Security | r.hoogendoorn@rai.nl
Hospitality | Travel | Sports | People |

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