Almost everyone by now has heard of the famously failed “Fyre Festival” in the Bahamas. Due to poor planning and organisation the event had to be postponed indefinitely whilst guests faced problems with security, food, accommodation and medical services. Law suits have been filed against the organisers.

With summer music festivals fast approaching in Scotland and all over the UK; we examine the top three things organisers can do to avoid health & safety disasters and to ensure that their event does not acquire an equally unfortunate headline!

The HSE provides Guidance on running events safely on their website which should be a first port of call for anyone thinking of arranging an outdoor event – no matter what the event or its size.

1. Insurance

It may seem obvious, or boring, or both! But insurance is key. Organisers should also be careful to check just what the insurance does, and doesn’t cover. Key risks should be identified and insurance cover for those risks should be secured. Organisers should also confirm whether or not there are any conditions attached to the cover and take steps to ensure that those conditions are met.

An often missed condition is the requirement to report all incidents which could lead to claims. In order to meet that condition a robust incident reporting system must be put in place with all staff aware of their obligations to report and the mechanism for doing so. Failure to report an incident could result in a policy not paying out if a claim does come through.

2. Sub-contractors

Care should be taken to ensure the competency and financial security of any sub-contractors appointed. The contract should contain clear indemnities; obliging the sub-contractor to bear the cost of any claim or loss arising from the sub- contractor’s negligence. Such an indemnity will not necessarily prevent the organiser from being sued, or from being found liable to the claimant, but the indemnity should allow the organiser to recover any financial costs incurred.

Indemnities should be backed by adequate insurance and the organiser should insist upon obtaining confirmation of all sub-contractors’ insurance policies. Again, the policies should be checked to confirm that they provide cover for the risks generated by the activity and that any conditions are being met.

3. Staff

Organisers are likely to be liable for the negligence, or deliberate wrongdoing of any employees and volunteers working at the festival. For that reason anyone being engaged, in whatever capacity, to assist with the festival should be provided with full and sufficient training to avoid any inadvertent mistakes.

In addition – all staff should be adequately supervised to minimise the risk of deliberate harm being caused. The organiser should set out clear guidelines for staff and identify behaviour which will not be tolerated.

Consideration should be given to whether or not staff might have access to vulnerable groups; if so, further care should be taken and it may be prudent to obtain PVG checks or to ensure that all contact is fully supervised.