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The Cheat Sheet to Live Event Safety

The Cheat Sheet to Live Event Safety

While many industries have made great strides in prioritizing safety, it still manages to slip through the cracks for some.

Live events in the US, such as concerts and festivals, have no safety management protocols or standardization as of 2023!

Crowd crushes are not things of the past; overcrowding and unmanaged crowds are two of the main factors in recent tragedies like the Astroworld crowd crush in 2021, or the Halloween 2022 Itaewon incident in Seoul, South Korea. In both instances, crowds surged and caused injury and death by crushing individuals together.

While your best chance of remaining unscathed if ever caught in a crowd crush is to cross your fists over your chest (for protection) and attempt to move diagonally to the edge of the crowd, wouldn’t it be better if individuals never had to resort to such measures or fear for their safety at what are supposed to be fun and engaging events?

Crowd Barricades at Rice Eccles Stadium used to section off sound equipment in standing area

OTW’s safety recommendations for concerts and festivals

Any event should have basic safety standards in place, but unfortunately, the festival and concert scene isn’t there yet. It doesn’t yet have any such standards set in stone that planners and organizers can follow.

OTW’s number one recommendation for safety in crowd control is to plan your safety and security into your operation – it cannot be an afterthought or planned last.

It’s not just because of budget, either, yet a compelling factor might be just that. LIVE Management Consulting reports that those who contact their security companies last minute tend to spend upwards of 25% more than those who prioritize safety in their planning!

We asked the OTW Safety team what event safety means to them and here was the consensus – every event should be marked by these four items:

First, a medical, first aid, and general support area should be easily available for attendees. Second, a security team should be present to enforce safety. Third, crowd control barricades, also known as concert barricades or concert security barricades, should be present and deployed appropriately.

Lastly, the event should be safe for everyone. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are monumentally important in all aspects of life and the concert industry should be no different. Ensuring that includes making events accessible for those with disabilities or those in wheelchairs, hiring ASL interpreters that are easily visible to all, and ensuring that there are safe spaces for those who need them (more on this later!).

Is it truly that important to plan safety into event operations?

In short, yes.

People matter.

People are at the heart of any industry, but the concert and festival industry is one that would cease to exist without attendees. This makes it exponentially important to prioritize the safety and well-being of every individual who walks through the doors or gates. Ensuring that guests, staff, and volunteers are exposed to as little risk as possible prevents harm from potential accidents and keeps them as safe as possible. The safer your people (and attendees) feel, the more likely they are to continue to return for future events, thus preserving the industry.

Liability is on the venue and budget is a big deal.

While it is true that safety should be a number one priority at any event, it is not only for the sake of attendees that safety and security should be present. If accidents happen, it is likely that the venue will be held responsible for damages and reparations. Thus, it becomes even more pressing that each and every event is fully staffed and prepared for every circumstance that might arise when dealing with large crowds.

Not only that but, in order to have appropriate safety and security, the budget must be taken into account. As mentioned above, those who wait until the last minute to engage their security services are likely to pay up to 25% more than if they had planned in advance. In addition, those who do not pay close attention to time clocks or necessary personnel and those who fail to audit their security bills and receipts are likely to lose money in the long run. Security can be expensive if not given due diligence, but it is an absolutely necessary part of any event.

Event Barricades at Bouldering Gym

What can be incorporated into plans to make events safer?

On top of our basic recommendations for event security, there are a number of best practices to incorporate into the safety and security of an event. Some of these are:

A thorough emergency plan – in case of unexpected and/or emergency events, a contingency plan should be in place that includes mitigation practices (avoiding accidents in the first place), preparedness for emergencies, response to emergencies, and recovery.

A risk assessment for relevant risks to the location and personnel and planning accordingly – reporting errors and/or miscalculations at this stage (when they occur) is crucial to maintaining order and avoiding accidents when crowds are larger.
Clear pathways and security checkpoints – ensuring that paths are wide enough for expected crowds and that there is enough security personnel to oversee checkpoints, exits, entrances (this includes parking lots), and overall crowd control goes a long way in maintaining safety for all.
  • Checkpoints, such as 18+ and 21+ areas, VIP sections, and alcohol/no alcohol zones are extremely helpful in guiding guests in appropriate directions, and concert crowd barricades (with custom signage) are the perfect way to direct your attendees clearly.
Crowd control barricades – deploying concert barricades in appropriate locations is key to controlling your crowds well. Adding clear signage (i.e. first aid, exits, checkpoints) will help your attendees – knowing where to go (in case of emergency and in general) is half the battle in feeling comfortable and safe in any new location. Not only will the presence of concert security barricades help your guests feel safer, but they will actually keep your guests safe.
  • Barricade quality matters. Metal barricades have the tendency to become a hazard at events and often are the cause of accidents due to unsteadiness, sharp edges, and unwieldy weight. Plastic barricades, on the other hand, are built to withstand crowds and are sturdy, safe to touch, and easily visible.
  • One of the most searched queries is DIY concert barricades… and we’ll stop you right there! Relying on tape, netting, stakes, etc, is a recipe for disaster. Keep this mantra in mind when organizing your event: “Hope for the best, plan for the worst”. That way, any circumstance that comes up has an appropriate response that ensures the safety of your guests. Strong, physical barricades are your best bet when ensuring overall safety!
  • We know that investing in barricades can be hard on a budget, especially for a temporary event. If you’re Utah based, we’ve got the perfect solution for you: check out our concert barricade rentals for any and all events – we’ll even help you plan!
DEI – diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is one subject that cannot be glazed over and why we’re touching on it again! One of the most important things to consider in safety planning is if your event is safe for all attendees, regardless of ability. As mentioned above, this includes wheelchair accessibility (and signage on where to find it), easily visible ASL interpreters throughout the venue, and even volunteer medics with basic training to support attendees.
  • A true medical station will include more than just the basics – while bandaids and CPR training can be invaluable, recovery zones prepped with Narcan and relevant supplies in case of overstimulation or an OD are pertinent to have as well.
  • Mental health support is a boon to those who need it, and concerts and festivals are prime locations for panic or anxiety attacks due to crowding, stimulation, etc. Having a safe space and qualified individuals present to help remediate said attacks is one way to make your event even better.
  • While no one wants harmful situations to take place at their event, it is best practice to be prepared for when they do occur. A reporting station where attendees can report instances of assault, drugging, or any kind of inappropriate behavior is essential to maintain true safety for every attendee. Ensuring that every guest knows such a place is available is also vital for safety.

Utah Arts Fest crowd walking outdoors

Create safe events, partner with OTW.

While by no means completely comprehensive, we hope that these safety recommendations help you as you’re planning your next event! We know that safety is multifaceted and sometimes complicated, and we’re here to help every step of the way. Need event planning services, concert barricade rentals, or your very own concert security barricades? Contact us today!

Download a PDF version of our cheat sheet here: