Health and Safety

It is vital that an event is run safely, to protect those attending and those working at it.  Health and Safety is important to the organisation of any event, from crowd control and stewarding to first aid – there are a number of areas that must be carefully considered so that your event is as safe as possible.  If you are responsible for your event, you may be responsible for the health and safety so it important it is done correctly.

Food at Events

Keeping food safe

Wash hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and warm water.
Wash your hands frequently but especially after handling raw foods, after using the toilet, having a cigarette, touching pets or even gardening.
Wear suitable, clean, washable, protective clothing when preparing food e.g. a clean apron.
Keep long hair tied back.
Ensure that high standards of cleaning and disinfection are maintained.
Keep all raw food and the equipment you use for this seperate from to eat foods.

Preventing cross contamination

Keep raw food separate from other foods.
Store raw food at the bottom of your fridge and cooked food at the top.
Defrost raw meat on a dish at the bottom of the fridge so that it cannot drip into other foods.
Clean and disinfect chopping boards and surfaces before and in-between use; use hot water to remove the dirt and a food-safe disinfectant to make the surfaces and equipment safe.
Do not smoke when handling food

Storing Food Properly

Keep foods refrigerated or frozen (as appropriate)
Keep chilled foods below 8ºC in the refrigerator
Keep frozen foods below -18ºC in the freezer
Keep hot foods above 63ºC
Do not leave food uncovered or at room temperature for long periods of time

Transporting Foods

Keep foods covered, this will stop them being spilt and protect them from contamination.
Store under temperature control, e.g. in a cool box with ice, when required.  If you cannot keep the food at the correct temperature during its transport, do you need to transport it as it may not be safe to do so.

Cooking foods thoroughly

Cook meats thoroughly use an accurate thermometer to makes sure the food is thoroughly cooked (recommended temp/time is 75ºC for 30 seconds)
Meat should not be pink in the middle and juices should run clear
Cook eggs thoroughly, they should be firm and not runny

Using Contract or Mobile Caterers

If you are intending to use contract caterers or mobile food units ensure that they are registered with their own Local Authority and can demonstrate that they are trained in Food Hygiene. Each trader should be able to provide evidence of their own insurance and their own risk assessment. Mark the location of each of the food traders on a site plan in advance. Knowing where food traders are operating gives Environmental Health staff visiting the site the opportunity to clearly identify each trader and give you feedback on any issues they may have.

It is also worth remembering that if you are supplying alcohol or hot food/drinks between 11pm and 5.00am, that you may require a licence.  For further guidance on Food Safety contact the Council’s Environmental Health Section. Or the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health National Guidelines for Outdoor and Mobile Catering at – information is available on the Communication page of this website.

The Cambridge City Council website also offers food safety guidance which may help you organise and run a safe and successful event that is memorable for all the right reasons!  Although the information is aimed mainly at food businesses, the guidance can also help if you hoping to host a community event.  It can be downloaded from

If you intend to hold a street party, the Food Standards Agency has produced some common-sense guidance to help things run smoothly and safely here.

Safety Advisory Group

Each district Council operates a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) to provide advice and assistance to event organisers.  It comprises senior officers from all the emergency services (police, fire and rescue service, ambulance, NHS trust) as well as Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and other relevant organisations.

The groups meet regularly to consider forthcoming events and organisers are strongly recommended to make contact with their SAG at an early stage in the process – 6 months before the date of the event would be suitable, though attendance at the SAG meeting might take place closer to it.   

Involving SAG also enables the agencies to consider the implications and ensure that there are sufficient resources available should there be an incident for which they are required. 

Typical examples of events would include:

Fetes and fairs
Open-air concerts and music festivals
Trade shows
Sporting events
Firework displays
Large scale parties
Processions, marches and carnivals
Street parties
Religious events

Each SAG has a referral form, which organisers are encouraged to complete and submit, to provide initial details about the event they are planning.  This will enable the SAG to determine whether organisers should attend a meeting and, if so, to schedule a suitable ‘slot’.   For Cambridge City Council please visit

Management Control Document

The Management Control Document is a single document which pulls together all the information about your event. The MCD can be circulated internally to your fellow event organisers and to the members of the Safety Advisory Group or to others who need to understand how your event will operate. Within it there should be information about the following:

Site plan and maps
Staffing structure and communications chart
How you will deal with noise, sanitation and waste
Traffic management on site and off site
Stewarding and staff control
First Aid and welfare
Programme of entertainment
Description of key structures
Lost children policy
Emergency procedures and major incident plan
Any other sections that are relevant to your event

Crowd Control and Stewarding/Marshalling

Controlling large crowds is vital to having a safe and successful event. If you are planning a large event you will need to take advice at an early stage from your local Safety Advisory Group. They will help you to plan the number of stewards, marshalls and security personnel that you might need to deploy. Marshalling and many stewarding duties can be carried out by volunteers so long as they are well briefed. The number of marshalls and stewards will vary depending on the number of entrances, exists and the number of people that you are expecting to attend. Stewards are the eyes and ears of an event, they control crowd flow, offer advice and directions to patrons and can alert you to incidents.

If you are planning a large event you might consider writing a short hand out for the stewards with all the key details of the event and ensure that each person has a map of the site. For events which are expecting high numbers of people or which are on a large site you should consider using 2-way radios to keep in contact with stewards on the ground. If you are expecting large numbers to attend it might be worth considering bringing in professional security staff to help out. Security personnel are now governed under the Security Industry Act (SIA) and have to be well trained and licensed, in order to be able to, for example, eject people from a location, should the need arise. There is a cost to bringing in SIA personnel but it does offer peace of mind that should an incident escalate that there are experienced people to help you to deal with it.

Major Incidents

A major incident is defined an emergency that involves a large number of people and which needs the implementation of special arrangements by one or more emergency services, the NHS, local authority or other agency. Good planning well in advance of the event is essential to make sure that if the worst happens that you are able to switch to a plan which will help you to deal with it. Again this is something which the SAG can help you with and gaining good advice early on is the best route to good event management.


The police will offer advice through the Safety Advisory Group to large events. Most events will not require a police presence. However, there are some duties which only the police can carry out. The police should always be called if you believe that a crime has been committed or if there is a serious problem. Use your common sense and only use 999 for emergency situations alternatively dial 101 and ask to be put through to your nearest police station.

First Aid

For any event you will need to have a first aid plan, using qualified people.  For events which are likely to attract large numbers you should talk to a first aid provider such as St John Ambulance or Red Cross. They will advise you on the number of first aiders needed and what kind of support they will need such as a dedicated first room or on site ambulance. Please note that there is often a cost associated with this level of cover.

Large events will need to involve the East Anglian Ambulance Service through the Safety Advisory Group.


The Fire Service can offer large events advice through the Safety Advisory Group. In general the following should be considered:

Think carefully about the location of fire exits.
Ensure that you have sufficient stewards to keep fire exits and fire routes clear at all times.
Allocate fire extinguishers to key points and make sure stewards are trained in their use.
Rubbish should not be allowed to build up and should be cleared regularly.
All fabrics should be flame retardant or sprayed with flameproofing.
Consideration should be given to how gas canisters and other fuels will be stored.
Who will be responsible for calling the Fire service in the event of an incident?

Further information

For more information please visit: and


Download or read a Guide to Organising Safe Events
Download an Event Safety Calculator
Download a Food Safety Regulations for the Voluntary Sector Guide

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