Health and Safety in festival season

Avid music fans are today making their way to the biggest festival in the UK, to not only dance their feet off (in what they hope to be a scorching few days) – but also to celebrate Glastonbury’s 10th anniversary at Worthy Farm.

A line-up hard to not be envious of includes Ed Sheeran, Craig David and The XX, but don’t get caught up in the excitement and forget what’s of utmost importance… the safety and health of all festival goers.

During the planning of a festival, it is likely the organisers will hold a series of Event Advisory Group (EAG) meetings with the Local Authority (Environmental Health; Trading Standards; Licensing), Police, Fire Authority and other key players. If something goes wrong, it’s the organiser and festival’s name at risk.

High risk factors 

Fill a location with pumped-up party people. Accompany that with their favourite band/DJ, turn up the volume, add some alcohol and what do you get? A significantly high risk event.

Large crowds of people can be monitored and controlled through a license by ticket sales, however in events such as a high-street food festival it can be hard work to track using Temporary Event Notices. Safety barriers must be in place, particularly around the site boundary and in front of stages to help control large numbers.

Weather conditions also play a major part in the safety at festivals and contingency plans must be in place for such events. Many have been cancelled or postponed due to bad weather. Mud baths make slips, trips and falls highly likely, especially in conjunction with high alcohol consumption and lack of lighting, so emergency lighting should be provided on all exits.

Last year, Glastonbury’s Farm was already under a foot of water before the event even began! However, mud-plastered fans (including some of our very own Shield Safety colleagues) still had a swimmingly enjoyable time, despite the downpour.

Will the wellies make an appearance this week? It’s hard to speculate with Britain’s unpredictable weather, but the scorching temperatures are forecasted for the next few days, so don’t forget to pack your factor 50!

Falls at height are also a big risk, especially during the construction stage of a festival – so when setting up temporary structures, remember to monitor wind speed to avoid an accident!

Noise, another factor to consider in the organisation process is particularly crucial if an event is in a built-up area. Parklife festival, resident in the homeland of Oasis, took place at the beginning of the month at Heaton Park. Surrounded by neighbouring houses, noise management is crucial in organising 35,000 attendees. The event’s organisers distributed leaflets to nearby residents with information including noise, cleansing and policing.

Gas safety must also be monitored; most importantly, if liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is onsite, where is it located and stored? Wholesalers with stalls at events have a temporary and therefore portable nature which can result in haphazard storage, leaving hungry customers at serious risk. In 2011, an LPG bottle exploded at the Manchester Food and Drink festival, injuring three people, who suffered burns to their arms, body and face.

Some other issues to consider during a festival:

Use of the land – Prior to the event if the land is used for livestock you should cease using livestock. If located on a highway, closure notices may be required.

Transport safety – Transport routes need to be in place onsite which have been agreed with the emergency services.

Electrics – Has the installation been checked by a competent person on site?

Water – Is the water provided mains water or is it from a private distribution system or private supply? If the latter, sampling may be required.

Camping onsite/day guests/alcohol – Maximum numbers as per licence/TEN. Can alcohol be brought onto site? Does the location of camping consider emergency routes on site? Can cars be parked next to tents or catering vehicles?

Medical facilities – Are there adequate trained first aiders on site and is a medical room provided? There should be first aid cover throughout the event.

Fire Precaution – Is firefighting equipment in place and are refuse bins located away from the site?

Rubbish – Are sufficient bins provided around the site and arrangements made to empty them during the event?

With summer now in full swing, remember that health and safety is a key part in public events and festivals are no exception. HSG195 is a great source for organising and running an event, however it is currently undergoing review as several areas are now out-of-date.

So, for all you festival fanatics, stay hydrated, sun creamed – and most importantly stay safe, so you can dance your feet off and enjoy your favourite bands.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email


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