As we approach the summer companies may start to think about office outings and away days. Whilst such activities are a great way to build team morale, employers should remember that they continue to be responsible for the health and safety of their employees whilst they are out of the office on business related activities. It is best to recognise the risks and take steps to control or limit these before the event so that on the day it is fun and everyone can enjoy themselves. Here are my top five tips for fun, accident-free events.
1. Preparation is key
Consider the venue- is it appropriate for the purpose? Are you able to control the area or will there be others there which might make it harder to ensure health and safety of employees? You might also want to look at arranging travel to/from the venue, especially if it’s not a central location and consider what activities/games are set up. Think about the potential risk of injury from the activities you plan to run. Some activities may have a small element of risk but this does not mean that they should not be allowed, which takes me on to tip 2…
2. Carry out a risk assessment
Employers need to think about known and reasonably foreseeable hazards and take appropriate steps before the day to avoid risk of injuries where possible. So identify the risks and reasonably practicable control measures to put in place. If an activity has a high risk of injury and there are no effective control measures you can put in place- is it really worthwhile setting that up? On the other hand, a game with low risk, e.g. an egg and spoon race where there is a risk of someone not looking where they are putting their feet and falling could be run safely and the risk of falling reduced to the lowest reasonably practicable level by, for example, having someone check the race ground for any objects or defects to make sure it is suitable for the activity and a short message to participants before they start reminding them to be careful. Each activity will require its own bespoke assessment if there is considered to be a risk of injury.
Circulate key health and safety points to attendees prior to the event. This should remind attendees of their obligations so that everyone knows what their role is to effectively manage health and safety, how people can report any issues on the day, who is in charge of health and safety if anyone has any concerns etc.
4. Third Party Appointments
Choose third party operators carefully and carry out what due diligence you think is appropriate in the circumstances. Even where events companies have designed and organised the day, the employer still has a duty to consider the risks to their staff. Having written risk assessments (see tip 2) can really help to avoid incidents occurring and evidence the business’ efforts to control the risks arising should anything go wrong and a damages claim is made by an injured party.
Make sure you have comprehensive employer’s liability and public liability insurance in place and that it covers the type of business activity you are planning.
With just a little bit of forward planning, health and safety concerns can be addressed before the big event, ensuring everyone can relax and have a great time on the day.